Championing British produce in foreign markets

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Since the decision to leave the European Union was taken in June 2016, there has been a period of uncertainty for UK industries, including the food and drink industry. Negotiations between the UK and the EU have been ongoing, but it is still not clear what the final deal will be or even if there will be one.

Concerns have been expressed at every level of the food industry. Farmers are worried about a shortage in the workforce as the seasonal migrant workers may be discouraged from coming. PSL has remained committed to helping food procurers to obtain good-quality food at the lowest prices, but as the value of the pound has dropped, prices have risen, and the hospitality industry has faced a dilemma as they try to balance the quality of their menus without increasing prices too much for their customers. There are also concerns about how food standards might change as the UK has to renegotiate trade deals with countries beyond the EU.

However, despite the uncertainties, the food and drink industry is looking to the future and how it can adapt to the post-Brexit situation. With the support of food manufacturers and farmers, the government is planning to boost food exports and is devising a new “gold-standard” that will measure food quality and showcase the excellence of British food exports.

This scheme was unveiled by Environment Secretary Michael Gove at the Oxford Farming Conference. In his speech, he praised the excellence of some of Britain’s regional foods such as Melton Mowbray pork pies, West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, Devon and Welsh lamb and Cumberland sausage.

He also acknowledged the value of existing food quality schemes such as Red Tractor but pointed out that there is no single, scaled measure for farmers and producers to show their quality across a number of indicators. The plan is to highlight the standards achieved on animal welfare, pollution control, soil health and water quality. He named some products, including Botanist Gin, Belvoir soft drinks, H Foreman & Son’s London-cured smoked salmon and Tyrells crisps, as examples of UK foods that deliver these qualities.

Gove promised to champion British produce, planning to maintain its place in existing markets and to secure new trade deals. He aims to use the new “gold-standard” to showcase the standards of the British produce, emphasising the advantages of the traceability of the ingredients, their distinctive taste and the integrity of production. By emphasising the high standard of the produce, British food and farming could succeed in global markets and become world-leaders in quality.

However the situation develops, PSL will continue to link food procurers with good-quality suppliers and maintain its other services, including “What’s In My Dish”, a service that helps chefs build allergen-compliant menus that meet the new laws. We will also continue to monitor the political developments and will keep you informed on how these will impact on the food and drink industry, as well as being ready to adapt to any changes that the exit from the EU will bring.


Autumn guide to seasonal food

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In Britain, eating seasonal food is a great idea. Generally, seasonal food does not need to be processed or preserved and hence contains many of the nutrients, trace elements and minerals our bodies require, and doesn’t lose any flavour.

Seasonal food does not often travel long distances from farm to shop in Britain, so its carbon footprint will be less than that of foods that are out of season. Eating local seasonal food also means supporting UK farmers at a time when they face stiff competition from overseas suppliers.

For the seasonal diner, autumn brings a feast of delicious foods, with the added luxury of an overlap between late-summer staples such as aubergine and courgettes and exciting newcomers such as chestnuts, pumpkin and kale.

According to food procurement and margin improvement management experts PSL, the following ingredients are ideal for creating high-quality seasonal menus this autumn:

Vegetables: Autumn is the perfect time for field mushrooms, marrow, lettuce, pumpkin, potatoes, squash, rocket, watercress, sweetcorn, beets, beet greens, broccolini, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, fennel, garlic, sweet potatoes, radishes and spinach.

Fruits: From September to November, it’s time to sample apples, damsons, blackberries, pears, sloes, plums, almonds, cranberries and elderberries.

Meat: The list of meat that’s seasonal in autumn includes grouse, chicken, lamb, ham, venison and sausages – it’s also the perfect time for pork pies. Duck, rabbit and partridge are also popular in autumn, but these have a smaller fan base than the likes of chicken and lamb.

Fish and other seafood: Autumn is the ideal time for Dover sole, dabs, brill, oysters, flounders, skate, lobsters, clams and mussels.



Snack and meal ideas for Autumn

Kick off your day with spiced porridge covered with dried figs and fresh plums. It’s delicious, healthy and very filling. For a light lunch, roast some parsnips and make a parsnip, chestnut and orange soup or simply roast the parsnips in honey, olive oil and thyme.

For a great-tasting salad, roast butternut cubes in the oven, then add chickpeas, watercress, feta and hazelnuts. A delicious vegetable stew can be created with canned tomatoes, kidney beans, pumpkin, celery and kale seasoned with dried oregano and smoked paprika.

For dessert, bake plums in cinnamon and honey and serve with crème fraîche or yoghurt or prepare an oat thickie with honey and yoghurt, apple juice and cooked plums or damsons.

Top fresh fish with julienne carrots, courgettes, leeks, ginger and sliced chilli. Steam or bake in a foil parcel with a touch of white wine or lime juice.

Vegetarians can cook tofu on a griddle until the outside is crispy and serve it in a delicious whole grain bread sandwich with slices of cooked pumpkin and harissa paste. Alternatively, stir fry chopped pecans, broccoli and tofu with a soy, chilli and honey sauce and serve with brown rice.

These are just a few of the incredible meals that anyone can create in autumn using nothing more than a little bit of creativity and what is seasonally available. Enjoy!



British Farming vs European Farming

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While there are many similarities between farming in the UK and farming in continental Europe, there are also numerous differences, not only because of physical factors but also because of differing cultures.

Farming in Britain

In 2006, farming contributed £5.6billion to the UK economy and 18.7 million hectares – or 77 per cent of the country’s total area – were dedicated to agriculture. Agriculture provides nearly 60 per cent of UK’s food requirements, though it only provides employment to 1.4 per cent of the workforce.

Main agricultural products of Britain

The UK’s most important agricultural products are cereals, potatoes, oilseed, vegetables, fish, poultry, cattle and sheep. Wheat is extremely important to the British farming industry; during the yearly growing season, nearly half of the country’s arable land is used to grow cereal crops, of which over 65 per cent is wheat. There are also nearly 31 million sheep, ten million cows, 9.6 million poultry and 4.5 million pigs in the UK.

British farming techniques

Over the last few decades, British farming has become highly mechanised and intensive. The driving force behind this was mainly the fact that, to feed a growing population, production from the same amount of land had to be increased. Despite this, the country still has to import just over 40 per cent of its food.

Organic farming in Britain

Organic farming has become increasingly popular in Britain since the establishment of the Organic Aid Scheme in 1994. By the end of 1997, organic farms comprised only 30,000 hectares, but the figure grew sharply after that, and by 2000, it stood at 525,000 hectares.

Farming in Europe

On the surface, farming in continental Europe might look the same as in Britain, but there are vast physical and cultural differences that strongly affect what is produced and how it is produced.

Main agricultural products of Europe

The main crops cultivated by European farms are cereals, sugar beet, oilseed, vegetables, fruit, grapes, olives and rice. Livestock production is very important to farming in Europe.

European farming techniques

On 7th September 2013, the Economist stated that Americans treated food as a commodity while Europeans are more concerned about where their food comes from and whether it is produced in a way they find acceptable. The debate that started after this statement was published still rages today.

The average farm size in Europe is only 12 hectares. No wonder, therefore, that there are more than 12 million farmers on the continent. The concept of ‘corporate farming’ – huge company-owned farms run by managers – is unusual in Europe, where there are still thousands of small family farms where food is produced for sale at the local market and thus travels only a short way to its destination.

This, of course, has implications for the way in which Europeans farm. With corporate farming, food often has to travel long distances to its destination, which necessitates the use of preservatives and processing. In large parts of Europe, however, freshness is the name of the game – you can usually be sure that, for example, the olives you eat as an appetiser were produced within a few miles of were you’re sitting.

Organic farming in Europe

As in Britain, organic farming is increasing popular in Europe; by 2015, there were 186,000 organic farms on the continent, covering a total of 11.1 million hectares.


The top eating trends for 2017 & 2018

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While chefs like to be innovative, they also need to know what will appeal to their existing customers and attract new ones.

Being aware of the latest and upcoming trends helps with creating new menus and advising food procurers of what is needed to make dishes that entice today’s diners. Here are five eating trends we’ll see over the next 18 months…

Carbs are back

The trend in recent years for creating carb-free dishes appears to be over, so dishes accompanied by bread or pasta are likely to prove increasingly popular. With countless different kinds of pasta and artisanal bread now widely available, there is plenty of scope for the creation of unique dishes.

Vegetarian and vegan

Today’s diners are more aware than ever before about the origins of the food they eat, sustainability and the impact that food has on the body. This is fuelling demand for healthy, ethical food where vegetables are central.

Local seasonal produce is likely to continue to be popular, but diners are always ready for something new. Unusual variations of fruit and vegetables can be used to create exciting menus that will appeal to all diners, not just vegetarian and vegans, and cuisines from around the world can provide plenty of inspiration.

Increased awareness of the effect of foods on the gut will also influence the new trends; probiotics, digestive enzymes and fermented foods will appeal to health-savvy diners.

Alcohol free

Health and the tightening of drink-drive laws means an alcoholic beverage is no longer considered an essential accompaniment to a meal. Drinks menus will reflect this with a wide variety of soft drinks and ‘mocktails’ that put the emphasis on being expertly made from high-quality ingredients with the aim of echoing the depth and complexity of alcoholic drinks. For those continuing to drink alcohol, the emphasis will be on quality as the craft beer trend expands into spirits.

Cook it yourself

Today’s diners are increasingly interested in how what they eat is made. Providing information on the origins of food on menus, and allowing diners to see the chefs at work draws them into the whole process of their meal’s creation.

The availability of professional cooking equipment and the popularity of TV cookery shows are making cooking quality dishes for yourself a trend. Expect to see an increase in food clubs and cookery kits, where fresh ingredients and accompanying recipes are delivered directly to consumers’ doors. This enables them to recreate dishes they have previously only been able to sample in restaurants.

Food prices

Food prices are rising, causing a dilemma for restaurateurs who want to create affordable menus without compromising on quality. Dining is likely to become a more casual experience as customers prefer to spend their money on food rather than fancy surroundings. The use of good-quality, cheaper ingredients such as pulses can help keep the prices down.

Increased awareness of health and food sources, combined with the demand for exciting new food is driving many of these trends. Food procurement and margin improvement management specialists PSL will continue to work closely with suppliers to fulfil this demand. The challenge for chefs and restaurateurs is to create menus that meet it.

Newspaper headlines on food inflation, with coins and rising graph

Despite what some are saying, Food Inflation is not a hopeless challenge

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In a year with rising business rates and minimum wage increases, the last thing hoteliers needed was for inflation on their food prices. Sadly, the drop in the pound, weather related crop failures, low livestock yields and high overseas demand has fuelled ever higher food prices. As far as food is concerned, pricing is up by just under 10% year on year.

The good news is that such a level can be managed and in most cases mitigated without compromising quality or customer experience.

Our top tips:

  • Consider using a specialist food margin business such as PSL. Typical savings are 10-15% which will easily ensure you bring year on year costs back under control and they offer a self-financing model which means they only get paid on delivery of improved margins.
  • Speak to your suppliers and ask them for suggestions to help reduce your food costs – they will be delighted to help.
  • Consider alternative products on your key product lines.
  • Consider changing your menus replacing dishes most affected by inflation with dishes with more stable costs.
  • Tackle food wastage by reducing production or portion size – e.g. a one ounce reduction on key proteins replaced with additional carbohydrates or vegetables will deliver the same plate weight for 10% less.
  • Compare your menu tariffs to ensure you are in line with the market/competitors.
  • Ensure good stock rotation to minimise waste.

The key drivers of food inflation are as follows:

Fruit and vegetables are up YOY approx. 11% – a contributory factor to this was the well-publicised shortage of salad crops and citrus fruits in the Spring due to flooding in the Mediterranean growing areas. Droughts are now affecting pricing though we are at least in the Summer growing season which is softening the impact of this.

Dairy is up YOY+20.82% but the previous year’s pricing hit rock bottom as the market was flooded with product due to EU quotas ending on production of many fat based products. Butter and cream is suffering from a very severe shortage of milk due to a dry Spring across Europe.

Seafood is up YOY +10.71% – this is being driven by imported product being hit hard by currency movements. Salmon pricing is also a key factor as the low pricing during the summer of 2015 created a ‘false market’ which processors reacted too by reducing production. This had the net effect of driving pricing up to exceptional highs.

Meat and poultry pricing is indeed rising due to high demand and low supply and we have had to accept a YOY 4.9% increase to date – a position which is again mitigated against the open market. However, there is more to come in this area with upward pressure on beef, lamb and pork and to a lesser extent poultry which we will be working to mitigate over the coming months.

Looking for more advice and support, contact the team at PSL today on:

01926 477635 [email protected] or


PSL Sponsors the Cateys 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award

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The hospitality industry’s leading partner for maximising food profitability was once again proud to support the Cateys lifetime achievement award.

On 4th July, the Cateys recognised the individuals, teams and businesses shaping the hospitality industry at a spectacular awards ceremony hosted this year at the Grosvenor House, London.

Since its inception in 1984, The Cateys have cast a spotlight on the industry’s highest flyers, strongest performers and hottest brands. Over more than a quarter of a century, they have become a byword for quality, class and achievement; the awards that everybody wants to win. No wonder then that the industry refers to them as its Oscars Night.

PSL were delighted to sponsor the 2017 lifetime achievement award that went to Sir Terence Conran.

“Conran was chosen for this award for the exceptional mark he has made on the restaurant and wider hospitality sector for more than 64 years. The designer, who has directly impacted the way in which so many of today’s restaurants look, opened his first restaurant in 1953. He launched Bibendum in the iconic Michelin building in 1987 before going on to co-found Conran Restaurants, which became home to some of London’s most-celebrated restaurants, including Quaglino’s, the Butlers Wharf gastrodome and Coq d’Argent.”

The hospitability industry’s food solutions partner, have now sponsored this prestigious award for several years. PSL was Established in 1993 and provide food and non-food savings to its clients.

Their success has been based on forming lasting relationships with their clients, as well as more than 150 accredited suppliers who help to ensure they continually supply the highest quality standards of food whilst controlling costs and increasing profits and margin.

Not only did PSL sponsor the lifetime achievement award but were also proud to have several clients at this prestigious event.

“We were delighted to see several of our clients being recognised last night including Andrew Foulkes from the Abbey Hotel in Bath as Manager of the Year. Isadore Sharp founder and chairman of Four Seasons was honored with the International Outstanding Achievement Award which was collected on his behalf by John Stauss Vice President & General Manager Four Seasons London Park Lane.” – Simon Numphud FIH, Director of Sales

Sussex Red Mullet for sale in London Borough Market

Love British Food

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Traditionally, British food has not enjoyed a positive reputation, conjuring up images of bland offerings such as stodgy pies and fry-ups swimming in fat.

However, in 21st-century Britain, this image has never been further from the truth, as across the country top chefs create menus based on fresh British produce. The result is a cuisine as rich and diverse as anywhere in the world.

Fresh local produce

One of the great strengths of British food is the fresh local produce that can be used to create dishes. The fertile soil of Britain is ideal for growing a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, as well as raising livestock. To get the best of this, many of the food outlets that food procurement and margin improvement management experts PSL work with are opting to buy locally, giving a boost to the local economy and ensuring the produce is as fresh as possible.

Local products often only being available seasonally represent a challenge for chefs as it can mean frequently adapting or changing menus, but this increases the diversity of British cuisine – As an island nation, nowhere in the country is too far from the coast, and freshly-caught seafood is becoming increasingly popular. From five-star restaurants to small seaside shacks, there are plenty of opportunities to sample what the waters surrounding the British Isles have to offer.

Traditional favourites

The full English or Scottish breakfast, a Sunday roast, and fish and chips are the staples of British cuisine, and these continue, quite rightly, to have a place in the nation’s hearts. By using well-cooked, good-quality ingredients, the simplicity of these dishes becomes their greatest strength. Even fish and chips can be something of a delicacy, with freshly-caught fish in a light batter a highlight of any day at the seaside.

Regional cuisine

The cuisine of many countries is too broad to be generalised. Even in a small country such as Britain, there are many, many regional specialities, many of which bear the name of their place of origin, such as Cornish pasties, Bakewell tarts, Welsh cakes and Scotch eggs. Regional variations can best be seen on a cheese board, with many counties in Britain producing their own cheese, which vary hugely in texture and flavour.

A sweet tooth

Afternoon tea is as quintessentially British as it gets when it comes to food and drink. Traditionally, tea is served with sandwiches, cakes and scones. However, the popularity of cooking shows such as The Great British Bake Off has increased interest in baking, and the variations of cakes served for afternoon tea has soared. Scones with clotted cream and jam remain a favourite though, with the ongoing argument of whether the jam or cream goes on first.

Cultural influences

The changing nature of British food helps to keep it exciting, so it is no surprise to see old favourites sitting alongside newer additions on menus. Immigrants from a variety of cultures have put their own slant on British food, introducing new ingredients and cooking techniques that enhance fresh British produce. For chefs, restaurateurs and food lovers alike, there has never been a more exciting time for British food.

The full English or Scottish breakfast, a Sunday roast, and fish and chips are the staples of British cuisine, and these continue, quite rightly, to have a place in the nation’s hearts. By using well-cooked, good-quality ingredients, the simplicity of these dishes becomes their greatest strength. Even fish and chips can be something of a delicacy, with freshly-caught fish in a light batter a highlight of any day at the seaside.




British Hospitality Association is driving best practice with the launch of its Industry Nutrition Guide

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The British Hospitality Association acts as the voice for the UKs hospitality and tourism industry. With over 45,000 members it champions the interests of the whole industry. Benefits include free advice and expert guidance on regulation, finance and health and safety as well as savings on services from selected business partners.


The BHA has today launched a comprehensive Industry Nutrition Guide to help every chef and catering manager in the UK provide healthier choices for customers.

The guide aims to facilitate best practice on nutrition and arm catering professionals with expert advice. It seeks to educate the industry on current health and nutrition practices and provide catering professionals with the strategies needed to encourage customers to make healthy choices.

Produced with input from eminent nutritionists from across the industry, including Nestle, WSH, Mitchells and Butlers and CH & Co Group, the guide sets out how chefs can reduce calories, salt, sugar and fat whilst increasing fibre, fruit and vegetables in the meals that they prepare. It will also assist catering managers in complying with their legal obligations, such as the EU regulations on Nutrition and Health Claims, by, for example, avoiding sweeping statements such as “twice as much vitamin C as an orange” or “guaranteed to keep you going for hours”.

Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive of the British Hospitality Association, which represents over 46,500 UK hospitality businesses, said: “The BHA is playing a key role in driving best practice across the industry, and the BHA Industry Nutrition Guide will help chefs and catering managers to take this forward. Hospitality businesses collectively serve an estimated 8.3 billion meals every year, so by leveraging our expertise in restaurants and food service and galvanising our diverse membership around clear principles, we want to support our membership to drive real action.”

The BHA and its members are strongly committed to working with government to address the complex and multi-faceted causes of obesity, and are playing their part by educating the hospitality workforce, using tools such as the BHA Industry Nutrition Guide, on developing, preparing and promoting healthier meals and empowering consumers with information.

The British Hospitality Association’s Nutrition Working Group, led by Sue Howlett, was tasked with the delivery of the Nutrition Guide. The Working Group was born out of the BHA Nutrition Group chaired by Sodexo’s Head of Nutrition and Dietetics, Wan Mak, a registered dietitian who has 26 years of experience in the field. The members of the Nutrition Group have been invaluable in making this happen.

Wan Mak, Chair of the BHA Nutrition Working Group, said:

“With ever-growing need, food business operators must increase their level of understanding on nutrition. This guide provides helpful advice that can be trusted. It contains everything from serving and cooking suggestions to legal information, which anyone in the food industry can make use of.”

Sue Howlett, Chair of the Nutrition Working Group and Food Technical and Quality Systems Manager at WSH says:

“With more meals being eaten outside the home, and a growing consumer demand for healthy food choices caterers with a working knowledge of current nutrition thinking can make a major contribution towards improving the health of their customers. This guide sets out the basics of nutrition in an easy to digest format without all the scientific jargon. It is concise and practical to implement, with lots of simple tips for healthier catering.”

Please click here to download a copy of the guide.



An exciting new chapter in PSL’s history begins

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Sodexo strengthens purchasing power with acquisition of PSL, leading procurement provider to the UK Hospitality Industry

Paris, October 17, 2016 – Sodexo, world leader in Quality of Life services, announced today the acquisition of procurement specialist PSL.

Established in 1993, PSL has become a leader in fresh food procurement in the UK with its integrated approach of procurement, operations and systems support. This acquisition will reinforce Sodexo’s proposition to deliver market-leading food cost management solutions to its clients including real-time e-platforms to facilitate efficient procurement and operational support to maximise food savings, ranging from menu engineering to waste management. Moreover, thanks to Sodexo’s geographic coverage and diverse client base, PSL will develop its business across Europe and capitalise on new product line opportunities, as well as expand its client base beyond the hospitality sector.

The move, which echoes Sodexo’s successful US-based GPO (Group Purchasing Organisation) Entegra, further cements the Group’s long-term strategy of harnessing business intelligence to identify additional opportunities for value creation for its clients.

Michel Landel, Sodexo Chief Executive Officer, said: “With PSL’s market-recognised data solutions and supplier network, we will expand our service offer with new ways to create value for our clients, and extend PSL’s business into new geographies and new sectors.”

Daniel Wilson, Managing Director of PSL, said of the acquisition: “I and the management team of PSL are delighted to be joining Sodexo, a global leader in the services industry, which will bring fantastic opportunities not only for both businesses but also for our employees, clients and suppliers.”

About Sodexo

Founded in 1966 by Pierre Bellon, Sodexo is the global leader in services that improve Quality of Life, an essential factor in individual and organizational performance. Operating in 80 countries, Sodexo serves 75 million consumers each day through its unique combination of On-site Services, Benefits and Rewards Services and Personal and Home Services. Through its more than 100 services, Sodexo provides clients an integrated offering developed over nearly 50 years of experience: from food services, reception, safety, maintenance and cleaning, to facilities and equipment management; from Meal Pass, Gift Pass and Mobility Pass benefits for employees to in-home assistance and concierge services. Sodexo’s success and performance are founded on its independence, its sustainable business and financial model and its ability to continuously develop and to engage the commitment of its 420,000 employees throughout the world. Sodexo is a member of the CAC 40 and DJSI Indices.

Key figures (as of August 31, 2015):

19.8 billion euro in consolidated revenues
420,000 employees
19th largest employer worldwide
80 countries
32,000 sites
75 million consumers served daily
15 billion euro market capitalization (as of July 7, 2016)

Media Contacts

• Simon Numphud, Director of Sales, PSL : Email: [email protected] Mobile: 07917 596322


St Andrew’s Catering Service has scooped yet another outstanding win

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St Andrew’s Catering Service has scooped yet another outstanding win at the 2016 Foodservice CATEYS Awards where they secured the Healthcare Caterer of the Year category, sponsored by Zenith Hygiene Group.

Announced on Saturday at the Park Plaza Bridge in London, it was the charity’s second catering accolade in a week after also being shortlisted in the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food & Drink Awards 2016/17 on Thursday, 13 October.
Head of Restaurants and Catering, Gareth Waters, said it was a great pleasure to be able to share news of this significant win with his team made up of over 100 highly talented catering staff.

“Known as the ‘Oscars of the catering industry’ and judged by more than 100 experts in the industry, it is fair to say that this award is a very significant and special achievement for the team here at St Andrew’s.”

“The hard work and dedication of this team is outstanding and can be credited for putting St Andrew’s catering at the top of our profession.”

St Andrew’s Chief Operating Officer, Warren Irving, also congratulated the team saying: “Once again we see fantastic work from Gareth and the team, well done on this achievement. You work incredibly hard every day and deserve to be recognised.”