2012 food celebrations off to a flying start! Print

The ninth British Food Fortnight that took place from 18th September to 3rd October fired the starting gun for food celebrations during the Olympics with the biggest ever national celebration of the diverse and delicious food that Britain produces.

This year's event was a warm-up for 2012 when the dates of British Food Fortnight will change, for one year only, to run at the same time as the London Olympics. Shops, pubs and restaurants responded to the challenge by trial running patriotic British food promotions in preparation for welcoming the world to Britain.

Highlights include:

  • Millions enjoy the best of British food…this year's British Food Fortnight reached an unprecedented number of the public.  Thousands of events were held with food festivals in more than half the English counties; a national school cooking competition led by the BBC's Hairy Bikers and Michaela Strachan; cooking lessons in Sure Start Children's Centres in some of the most deprived areas of Britain; healthy eating activities in more than 20 universities; foraging walks, food trails and fungi forays; a huge British food promotion in Harrods; a Harvest Swap Shop in St Paul's Cathedral; food celebrations throughout St. Pancras International train station; fruit and vegetable shows; wild night feasts; a Giant Beanstalk competition for children; Battle of the Bangers competition between butchers; a Moveable Feast with courses at different restaurants; a Union Jack coloured meal promotion; a challenge to cook 5,000 British breakfasts in 96 care homes for the elderly; Plot to Plate cooking demonstrations; Meet the Farmer events, school trips to farms and even a British menu for animals in a zoo!

    “St Pancras's British Food Fortnight events proved really popular.”
    Dominique Didinal, St Pancras International Railway

  • More British food promotions than ever before…more British food was consumed through the catering sector over the two weeks than ever before with a record nine of the largest food service organisations, led by ARAMARK, eight major pub groups led by Young's, all the chef associations, the National Trust, Youth Hostel Association and many others all putting British food on the menu.  The public sector supported the event en masse with major hospitals, school catering services and even the Cabinet Office offering special menus.  And on the high street, hundreds of shops sported the Union Jack with tastings, meet-the-producer events and special offers on British food.

    “Sales on one day during British Food Fortnight were up £400. Sales on the first week were up £1000!”
    Atul Sodha, Londis store manager

    “We love the idea of British Food Fortnight so much that we have extended the celebration for the whole of October.”
    Richard Phillips, Chapel Down Restaurant, Kent

    “There has been a significant increase in school meal uptake during British Food Fortnight.”
    Mark Sleep, Client Services Manager for Kent County Council

  • British on a budget: Universities and Sure Start Children's Centres take part for the first time… More than 20 universities across Britain rose to the challenge with British Food Fortnight promotions - in conjunction with the Department of Health's 5 A DAY programme - in student cafes and canteens; stalls at Freshers' Fairs promoting the healthy benefits of British seasonal food; and cooking demonstrations of simple recipes for students.

    British Food Fortnight's long established initiative sending chefs into schools to teach children how to cook expanded into Sure Start Children's Centres.  Parents using the centres were taught how to cook, where to buy healthy food and how to incorporate 5 A DAY into their family's meals leading up to a British Food Fortnight Feast during the event.  The activity was trialled in eight centres across the country with some courses three-times oversubscribed.

    “Our British Food Fortnight Bubble and Squeak pie sold out and we were only half way through lunch.”
    Debbie King, Catering Manager, University of Brighton

    “When is the next British Food Fortnight cookery lesson? Can we organise more?”
    Parent at Kintore Way Children's Centre, London

  • Schools compete to cook for royalty and the Hairy Bikers…this year's British Food Fortnight School Challenge was the biggest yet with hundreds of pre, primary, secondary and special needs schools taking part.  Pupils picked berries from local fruit farms and the countryside and made their own smoothies, crumbles and jams; turned the school timetable into a British food week; visited farms; invited local WI members, chefs and even parents into school to taste and judge their menus; composed an 'Oh Lovely Healthy Smoothie' song to the tune of Hokey Cokey; held imaginative harvest festival celebrations; and were invited into local hotels and restaurants to help design menus.  Three schools even got together and created a five-metre tall mountain of British butties!  Judging is now underway to select the winning school that will be invited to London in the New Year to cook for HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and the Hairy Bikers.

    “The British Food Fortnight campaign presents the prefect opportunity to get children interested in healthy eating”
    Akhtar Zaman, Executive Member for Environmental Services, Bolton Council which organised for chefs to go into schools to teach children how to cook.

    “We organised a school visit during British Food Fortnight to teach  the children the importance of buying locally. It had great response in the local media and we will certainly be taking part from now on.”
    Stephen Jarvis, Menzies Pinewood Hotel

Alexia Robinson, organiser of the event, says: “With the Olympics coming to Britain we have the opportunity of a lifetime to bring the best of British food to the world.  This year's British Food Fortnight is a rallying cry for shops, pubs and restaurants to start planning patriotic food promotions now.  Rather like an Olympic athlete we have got 21 months to prepare and go for gold in 2012 on menus and shop-shelves.  The countdown starts now!”

British Food Fortnight 2010 was sponsored by ARAMARK, Budgens and the Department of Health's 5 A DAY Just Eat More (fruit & veg) programme.  It is supported by over 70 organisations led by 3663, Brakes, National Farmers' Union, National Trust, Oxford Hotels and Inns, Compass Group, Mitchells & Butlers, Tenant Farmers Association, Young's pubs and Youth Hostel Association.

British Food Fortnight 2011 takes place 17th September to 2nd October 2011.

In Olympic year, British Food Fortnight takes place from 27th July to 12th August 2012.

What people said about this year's British Food Fortnight:

“2010 was another successful British Food Fortnight for ARAMARK. We invited over 250,000 of our customers each day to enjoy best British classics.  We gave away 100,000 British-themed recipe cards to inspire customers to use local produce and cook at home. Our schools activity also goes from strength to strength and this year we were delighted to organise cooking classes in Sure Start Centres around the country as well.”
Val Carter, Corporate Responsibility Director, ARAMARK

“British Food Fortnight 2010 offered us the opportunity to run competitions with our retail and education customers.  It has been tremendous to witness the creativity, passion and flair that the British culinary industry in this country has to offer. We are already looking forward to 2011!”
Sally Sturley, Head of Food Marketing at Brakes

“British Food Fortnight is a great opportunity for us to shout about the fact that our food is British and that Young's pubs support British suppliers. For 2010 we also ran a cask ale festival alongside our special British Food Fortnight menus so we celebrated the best of British food and drink which was really well received by our customers.”
Jayne Nelson, Retail Marketing Manager, Young & Co.'s Brewery

“Our Great British Breakfasts day for British Food Fortnight has been a great success with residents.”
Richard Herne, Catering Manager, Anchor Homes, the largest provider of care homes

“YHA is brimming with pride at once again being associated with the magnificent British Food Fortnight initiative.  Around 10,000 guests have enjoyed the delights of our special menus created and delivered in an environment where British is King! We at the YHA take off our caps to salute all that is British in food and look forward with gusto to 2011!”
John Mcgrath, Food & Beverage Manager, YHA

“At 3663 we are extremely proud to have actively supported British Food Fortnight.  Our customers have shown a lot of interest in the campaign and have made full use of the packs and posters along with a range of promotions we produced on our great British food lines.”
Vanessa Millard, Senior Marketing Manager, 3663

“All the Brookwood Partnership teams threw themselves into British Food Fortnight and had great fun working with schools during the event.  Activities ranged from getting children to sample traditional foods like jellied eels to our staff dishing up crumbles with fruit from their own gardens and local farms.”
Kate Martin, Managing Partner, Brookwood Partnership catering group

“There was a fantastic turnout for St Paul's Cathedral's British Food Fortnight Harvest Swap Shop.  Our most green-fingered customers brought boxes filled to the brim with home-grown pears,courgettes, broccoli and allotment potatoes and The Restaurant at St Paul's created some amazing dishes as a result”
Candice Webber, Head Chef at The Restaurant at St Paul's

“British Food Fortnight is always a great occasion and a brilliant way of highlighting to pupils the importance of using locally sourced produce”
Sara Kinsey, Teacher at Bradon Forest School, Swindon

“British Food Fortnight is going from strength to strength for our properties with lots of local producers involved. At Anglesey Abbey we set up a mini market, sold lots of locally grown food and our visitors loved it!”
Vincent Howard, Catering Manager at the National Trust's Anglesey Abbey

“I have never seen Harrod's Food Hall look so magnificent – there were the most spectacular displays of British food I have ever seen in London.”
Susie Burnett, Harrods customer commenting on their Festival of British Food

“By promoting British Food Fortnight to our new student intake, we not only found our sales rose significantly but we also had very positive customer feed back too. This is important at the start of term as it helps us gain a loyal customer base from the new students. We are now continuing to promote British produce in the University throughout the year.”
Mark Houghton, Executive Chef, University of Birmingham

“Compass Group was a proud supporter of British Food Fortnight 2010.  It was a great opportunity to share our commitment to British farming with our clients. We developed a number of new dishes especially for the Fortnight celebrating traditional British favourites and we served these in over 1,200 businesses. Our chefs also developed a series of recipes for customers to take home and try too!”
Nick Vadis, Executive Chef, Compass Group UK & Ireland

“Great success at the Royal Brompton Hospital during British Food Fortnight. Our income increased in the staff restaurant which was excellent. British food formed part of the main menus and each day samples of local food were available for customers to try. Everyone is now looking forward to this annual event and it really does increase the awareness and interest from staff and patients.  As a result, we have decided that all apples and pear will be English only in the Hospital when in season.”
Mike Duckett, Catering Services Manager, The Royal Brompton Hospital, London