Burger King Sans Tomatoes; Baskin-Robbins' 'Beef' Row: Food News
Image Credit: Burger King. The fast food chain won't include tomatoes in its burgers and wraps in India, until prices stabilise.

1. ‘Even Tomatoes Need A Vacation’

After McDonald’s and Subway, Burger King is the next fast food chain to drop tomatoes from its menu across Indian outlets. 

Burger King has scrapped tomatoes from its wraps and burgers in many Indian outlets after prices more than quadrupled. "Even tomatoes need a vacation ... we are unable to add tomatoes to our food," read notices pasted at two Burger King India outlets. The chain has cited quality issues in explaining the shortfall.

The burger chain, one of India's biggest with nearly 400 outlets, joins many McDonald's and Subway stores that have removed tomatoes from menus as India's food inflation this week hit its highest since January 2020.

The tomato supply crisis has coincided with a surge in prices by as much as 450% to record highs as monsoon rains disrupted crop and supply chains — although they have since eased.

"Why are there no tomatoes in my burgers?" reads a question on the support page of Burger King India's website. The answer states its Indian franchisee follows "very high standards of quality" and tomatoes will be back soon. Meanwhile, "we request your patience and understanding".

Source: Reuters.

2. Move Over Whisky, Barrel-Aged Chocolate Is Here

Organic, artisanal brands are ageing their chocolate in everything from whisky casks to Madeira wine barrels.

Small-batch chocolate producers around the world have learned over the last few years that just as barrel-aging imparts a wide array of flavours into coffee, cocktails, and of course wine and spirits, it can do the same for chocolate..

Cacao is particularly well suited to barrel-aging since the beans are about 50 percent fat. This fat, otherwise known as cacao butter, is extremely absorptive. When the beans are placed in a vessel, they easily pick up the natural notes of the wood barrel and hints of the bourbon, rum, or other ingredients that previously inhabited the cask. (This is also why chocolate should never be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, as it can absorb the flavours of that onion you’ve been storing next to it.) These flavours of vanilla, caramel, and even coffee and coconut, complement and highlight the cacao bean’s own natural flavor profiles.

Though the flavour profile of barrel-aged chocolate is generally subtle, some companies soak the cacao beans with spirits while simultaneously aging them in the barrel, or add spirits to the chocolate bar, depending on the final flavour profiles they’re looking to achieve. And because barrel-aging chocolate is in its infancy, the combinations of barrel and bar are endless: From subtle vanilla and oak to bright and fruit-forward, there’s quite a variety to try now.

Source: Marci Vaughn Kolt for Eater magazine.

3. Baskin-Robbins’ “Beef” Row In The Us

The ice cream brand is facing backlash from a Hindu group for “misleading” labelling on its Rocky Road flavour

Baskin-Robbins is facing pushback from the Universal Society of Hinduism (USH) in the US for “including gelatin — notably derived from cows — in its Rocky Road ice cream without denoting the flavour as a beef product.” The omission is troubling for unsuspecting vegetarians, particularly those who don’t eat beef for religious reasons, said the USH. Baskin-Robbins, meanwhile, asserts that it is “compliant with all regulatory standards and strives to provide clear, simple nutrition and ingredient information on menus and labels.”

Source: Bon Appétit

4. The Rise Of The ‘Sober Curious’

Drinking was once considered a rite of passage among younger adults. But more Gen Z-ers are now identifying as “sober curious”. 

Drinking or not drinking was once seen as binary: you were a drinker, or you were a teetotaler. A more recent shift, however, emphasises “mindful drinking”, with those who subscribe to the movement calling themselves “sober curious”.

This might mean pausing to consider your need to drink, or how much you will drink. Maybe replacing your midweek glass of wine or beer with a non-alcoholic alternative. It’s about stopping to ask yourself why you want to have a drink, and if each and every drink needs to be alcoholic.

The sober curious embrace mindful drinking as a lifestyle, using social media hashtags such as #soberissexy #sobercurious and #hangoverfree. These hashtags speak to images of health, happiness, empowerment — people living life to the full. Offline, this idea of conscious or controlled drinking has generated a new culture of consumers who celebrate, share and hashtag their non- or low-alcohol drinking.

To meet the demand for new products and innovation from sober curious consumers, liquor retailers are dedicating greater shelf space for the growing range of no-alcohol and low-alcohol drinks. Alcohol-free wines, beers and spirits are increasingly sophisticated, driven by consumers taking more care in what they drink — and how they choose to drink.

Source: University of Newcastle researchers Tamara Bucher and Melanie Pirinen.

5. Nepal Govt To India: Help Ensure Rice, Sugar Supply During Festive Months

Nepal has requested India to provide at least 100,000 tonnes of rice, and 50,000 tonnes of sugar for the months of October-November.

The Government of Nepal has requested India to facilitate the supply of paddy, rice and sugar, as a precautionary measure to mitigate any possible food scarcity in the upcoming festive season. One million tonnes of paddy; 100,000 tonnes of rice; and 50,000 tonnes of sugar are among the supplies included in the government’s request.

While there is no immediate shortage of rice and sugar in the market, there are rumours about possible scarcity following India's decision this July to ban the export of non-basmati white rice to the international market. There are also concerns that traders might resort to hoarding these goods, potentially driving up prices as the festive season approaches.

Nepal's festive season, which occurs between October and November, could be at risk of experiencing elevated prices for rice and sugar if measures to ensure a steady supply are not effectively implemented. Nepal is heavily dependent on imported food, mostly from India.

The Himalayan nation’s request for foodgrains came as India began importing tomatoes from Nepal to arrest the spike in prices.

Source: Press Trust Of India