Hummus ‘crisis’ sheds light on secret world of mass food production

  • The buildings belong to Bakkavor, the international food manufacturer behind the mass withdrawal of the product from British supermarket shelves after customers complained of a metallic taste.
  • These units off the Hanger Lane gyratory system – among 30 facilities on 19 different UK sites – manufacture hummus and other dips on an industrial scale for supermarket giants including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, the Co-op, Asda and Morrisons, who sell them under their own brands.
  • Chefs such as Yotam Ottolenghi, Claudia Roden and the Lebanese chef and author Anissa Helou have done much to popularise Middle Eastern foods in recent years, with shoppers now viewing hummus as a grocery staple.
  • “It’s good that hummus has become so popular in the UK, although in the Middle East it’s not a dip eaten from a tub but a meal – and people often don’t know how a really good one tastes,” Ottolenghi told the Guardian.
  • Saltmarsh’s Suffolk-based company is currently working with the condiment firm Charlie & Ivy’s to launch a new fava bean hummus (using UK rapeseed rather than olive oil) at a food festival at the end of May.

After a brief recall, tubs are back on shelves. But have retailers learned a lesson about the wisdom of diversifying their supply chain?
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