Pizza Hut’s 2,880-calorie monster: a taste of a burgeoning global food crisis

A chili former fall day in 2013 and I am sitting in a cardinal London branch of Pizza Hut trying not to be noticed. I wanted a table towards the back but they directed me alternatively to one hera, in the window. I turn my body away from the glass, but it makes no remainder. I am well over six foot, have a chest indeed big there are plans to build a high-speed fulminate link between my nipples, and have hair like an unlighted bonfire. Plus I whore about on television receiver. Sitting in a populace identify inconspicuously is not separate of my skill set. Quickly person tweets that they have spotted me. Oh God. I fear my cautiously honed repute as a ideal of good taste is about to be destroyed. I feel like some Bible-bashing Republican senator who ‘s been get strapping himself to the wall bars in a secret agony garden, my shock morals revealed. And indeed I am forced to explain. Pizza Hut UK has just launched a newfangled intersection ; an item so terrify, indeed bloodcurdling, so intelligibly the product of a warped and twist take care in matters comestible, that I feel I have no option but to try it. I am doing this so others do not have to.

Most of the diners here nowadays are going for the £6.99 all-you-can-eat buffet deal. not me. I am ordering a large double pepperoni pizza with cheeseburger crust. I am consigning myself to my very own grease-stained, cheese-slicked gastronomic hell. I am doing this to shine a clean on the room a deform model of nutriment has come, in the past class, to play a identify part in the debate around global food security. Quickly it arrives. It ‘s surely not misnamed. The middle is criterion Pizza Hut : a soft doughy base as sodden and limp as a pamper ‘s diaper after it ‘s been wear for 10 hours. There is a fink of waxen cheese and flaps of pink salami the color, worryingly, of a three-year-old girl ‘s party dress. What matters is the crust. Each of the 10 slices has a loop of crisped dough and in the circular fold made by that loop there is a bantam puck of hamburger, four or therefore centimeter across and smeared with more cheese. It looks like a fairground carousel realised in food. When I prise out one of the miniskirt burgers, the greasy, bland dough below looks like the white pulp of an open injure that ‘s been hidden under a plaster. Do I need to tell you that the hamburger is a sweaty, grey orb of deathly protein ? It is advertised as 100 % british beef, but origin is irrelevant after this has been done to it. Those hapless, poor people animals. surely they could have reached a more ennoble end, possibly by cutting out the stumble to Pizza Hut wholly and going straight to landfill ? As I bite down on the kernel, hot salty body of water leaks into my mouth. There is the fat-soaked dough, the deplorable diss of the cheese phlegm, and a general air of desperation and regret. Pizza Hut UK admits that the cheeseburger crust pizza is 288 calories a slice, or 2,880 for the solid thing, well above an pornographic male ‘s recommend day by day calorie intake and above the previous Pizza Hut big dog. That was the BBQ meat feast gorge crust, its doughy edges suppurating with brassy tall mallow, at 2,872 calories. Extrapolating from figures for that BBQ meat banquet stuffed crust monstrosity, the cheeseburger crust has north of 120 grams of fatty ; the commend daily limit for men is 95 grams. That could be mitigated only if the person who urgently wanted the cheeseburger crust pizza could find a friend with whom to share it. Or quite a few friends. That might prove a challenge. What ‘s most curious about all this is that in March 2011, Pizza Hut, along with many early big players in food retail, signed up to the british government ‘s Responsibility Deal, an try to coordinate efforts by the food and swallow industry to encourage healthier life style choices by the public. One of the kernel pledges to which Pizza Hut signed up was : “ We will encourage and enable people to adopt a healthier diet. ” And even hera they are, two years late, introducing to their menu an detail that looks like it could clog an artery at 20 paces. The head of the food diligence division of the Responsibility Deal is the nutrition adept, Dr Susan Jebb. She declined to comment on Pizza Hut ‘s gastronomic delights, having not had them inflicted upon her. however, between deep, tire sighs, she did say that “ if we are going to support people in making changes to their diets then the food choices they are offered are a crucial and critical chemical element ”. indeed. It ‘s easy to dismiss the miserable cheeseburger crust pizza as a mere food curio, a tragic exemplar of the awful things done to absolutely innocent ingredients by those operational at the penetrate conclusion of the commercialize. And it ‘s surely that. But it ‘s besides something much bigger : a beat up steer for those talking badly about the challenges of food security in the twenty-first hundred. For years the argue has been entirely around improvements to agriculture ; about ways to increase move over and productiveness while reducing impact on the environment. It has been about what sustainability actually means, and the indigence to revolutionise the way we make food or, as it ‘s known, the supply side. nothing has changed. That agenda remains hard in topographic point. The impingement of climate change on our ability to feed ourselves very is going to be huge, and we need to be good about taking measures to mitigate that .

Waste food adds 3.3bn tonnes of greenhouse gases to the planet’s atmosphere and uses 1.4bn hectares of land – 28% of the globe’s agriculture area

In the by year, however, a second consider has come to the bow, and this one is all about the demand side. It ‘s not just about how we produce the food we eat ; it ‘s about how much of that food we ‘re consuming – or not actually consuming, as the case may be. In the past year, for model, the volume of the consider around food thriftlessness has been turned up and up. In September 2013 the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization released a composition, Food Wastage Footprint : Impacts on Natural Resources [ PDF ], which revealed that the 1.3bn tonnes of food wasted globally each year caused $ 750bn deserving of damage to the environment. The water wasted is equivalent to the entirety of the flow of Russia ‘s Volga river. The waste food adds 3.3bn tonnes of greenhouse gases to the planet ‘s air and uses 1.4bn hectares of bring, or a full 28 % of the ball ‘s farming area. All to grow food that will never be eaten. In November 2013 a report by the british government ‘s lay waste to advisory soundbox, the Waste Resources Action Programme stated that Britons were hush throwing off the equivalent of 24 meals a month, or 4.2m tonnes of food a year. Every day UK homes were chucking aside 24m slices of bread, 5.8m potatoes and 1.1m eggs. But there is another kind of waste, summed up by the Pizza Hut cheeseburger crust pizza, and that ‘s overconsumption. Eat food you truly do n’t need to eat and that excessively has been wasted. Joining the middle classes, as millions across China, India, Brazil and Indonesia have done, provides access to loads of cool things like education, flat-screen TVs and karaoke machines. It besides provides access to eating opportunities which might not be for the best. Like cheeseburger crust pizza. A wax 18 months before it was launched in the UK, the cheeseburger crust pizza made an appearance in the Middle East. It ‘s no storm Pizza Hut chose to test it there. Of the circus tent 10 countries in the world for prevalence of type 2 diabetes, six – the likes of Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar and Saudi Arabia – are in the Middle East, where it affects a humongous 11 % of the population ( compared with around 5 % of the population in the UK ). How better to decide where to launch the worst kind of junk food than by identifying the separate of the world with the highest prevalence of an obesity-related disease ? All these people who are developing type 2 diabetes – the kind related to lifestyle preferably than the non-lifestyle relate type 1 – will surely be sum suckers for a pizza freighted with cheeseburgers. distinctly, Pizza Hut immediately needs to focus its efforts on the boom lands of China. In September 2013, equitable as the cheeseburger crust pizza was arriving in Britain, a newly study into the disease in China was published by the China Noncommunicable Disease Surveillance Group, based on a survey of closely 100,000 people. As a quantify of economic progress, of an exploding middle course unashamedly demanding to eat as their equivalents in the west do, you could n’t hope to find much better. In 1980 less than 1 % of the taiwanese population was diabetic. By 1994 the digit was 2.5 %. By 2001 it was 5.5 % and six years former 9.7 %. The report revealed that 11.6 % of the taiwanese population is now diabetic, with a astonishing 50 % showing signs of being pre-diabetic. even the USA, that stadium for all things lardy and corpulent, the instantaneously winner of the biggest-arses-in the-world contest, can alone manage a diabetes rate of 8.3 %. China has well and truly won the global competitive over-eating contest. As treating each diabetic costs around £900 annually in the UK, the fiscal implications of the disease are huge. If precisely a third of the pre-diabetics in China went on to develop the full-blown disease, in just a few years China could be facing a bill of around £300bn a year. But there is besides the simple emergence of resources. As I was told by Professor Tim Benton, the co-ordinator of politics and academic influence on food security in the UK, if we all ate like the Americans we would need four satellite Earths. We are all moving towards eating like the Americans. We are suckers for cheeseburger crust pizza. And the last meter I looked we did n’t have four planet Earths .obese chinese fleshiness is a huge problem in China. In 1980 less than 1 % of the chinese population was diabetic. 11.6 % of the chinese population is immediately diabetic ( more than in the USA ), with 50 % showing signs of being pre-diabetic. photograph : AFP/Getty Images How do we solve this problem ? If we study the numbers it all looks very simple. Along with the cheeseburger crust pizza, and the chinese diabetes statistics, September 2013 besides saw the issue of a cogitation that weighed the benefits of techno fixes to agriculture to reduce greenhouse gasoline emissions, against just fixing the world ‘s diet. The report, written by Pete Smith of the Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, along with many early academics worldwide, concluded that if every single techno fasten was introduced – renewable world power generation, lower carbon methods of till, thriftlessness recycle and so on – it would reduce CO2 emissions by between 1.5 and 4.3 gigatonnes ( a gigatonne being a billion tonnes ). however, if the worldly concern changed its diet and went wholly vegan, emissions would drop by 7.8 gigatonnes ( though that ignores the positivist affect that well managed ruminants have on the landscape and their ability to eat lay waste to from agribusiness ). There are many people who advocate just that. They say that if we all went vegan everything would be all right. And I ‘m certain they feel a warm burn of self-righteousness as they deliver these claims. There is nothing more endow than making aired proclamations about the room advancing, when you have no power any to make it happen. It ‘s worth recur : certain social groups in Europe and the US may wish to make these changes, but who fancies telling the newly emerged middle classes in China that they ca n’t now eat like us ? It ‘s besides true, of course, that if we stopped living in the twenty-first hundred everything would be fine. If we had n’t had an industrial rotation everything would be finely. Best of all, if, as a species, we had n’t been sol blasted successful, and we did n’t keep being born and living longer, everything would be completely very well. There ‘d be fewer of us and, as a result, enough resources to go round. The fact is that, as the Smith report acknowledges, the populace is not going vegan any time soon. That said, an optimum diet, as defined by the Harvard Medical School, which reduces the inhalation of animal proteins in rich countries and raises it in inadequate countries, would lead to a reduction in emissions of 4.3 gigatonnes. If that could be combined with advances in agrarian sustainability and improvements in yield, we might be getting somewhere. According to Tim Wheeler, professor of crop science at the University of Reading, who is both deputy conductor of the Centre for Food Security and deputy head scientific adviser for the british government ‘s Department for International Development, it ‘s only very recently that the debate ‘s opposite parties have finally started talking. “ longstanding concerns with supply of sufficient and alimentary food to a growing population have spurred newfangled ways of thinking about the links between agribusiness and nutrition, ” he says. “ What have traditionally been two separate schools of think on food output and on nutriment have started to come together to tackle global food security challenges. ” As he says, the dialogue ca n’t come besides soon ; the over-nutrition issue is not something that can just be dismissed as a “ beginning populace ” problem. “ even in countries where stunting among children persists due to under-nutrition, ” he says, “ there are fairly high and growing levels of adult corpulence rates in urban and rural areas, with child fleshy rates besides rising quickly in Latin America. ” There are, it seems, an increasing number of places around the universe where Pizza Hut could make a dangerous splash with that £17.25 cheeseburger crust pizza. In the early summer of 2013 I was approached by a elder compress officeholder at Tesco plc. Would I like to have coffee with Philip Clarke, the foreman administrator ? obviously he wanted to hear more about my views “ as a food technical, on our commitment and our ideas on how to achieve it ”. How very flattering.

And how very, very odd. Historically, Britain ‘s biggest retailer had besides been Britain ‘s most bolshevik. Generally press inquiries about their business were met with a crisp “ no gossip ”. They sold stuff, lots of stuff, and they did n’t see why they should have to explain to filthy journalists how they sold that stuff. then a bum, own-brand Tesco burger was found to be 29 % cavalry, and everything changed. The discovery of horsemeat in four Tesco products, announced by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland on 14 January 2013, cast a long shadow over the year which has not so far receded. Their ups and downs have, in many ways, mirrored the consider around global food security and the role of large corporations in it. other food retailers in Britain including Iceland, Aldi and Lidl were implicated in the horsemeat scandal, but Tesco was the biggest musician by far. The scandal was described as a wake-up address for mass retail. The doubt is will they all doze off again, given half a casual ? Within a few weeks of the discovery Tesco was taking out full-page adverts in newspapers to declare that they understood they had screwed up. They insisted that they had “ changed ”. shortly after that, the initiatives began. In early May they announced they were going to help their customers to waste less food. Which was dainty. A week former, they announced they were going to help their customers to eat more healthily. Each fourth dimension they made these announcements in radio or television studios they came up against a bad man with a goatee byssus, sideburns and a record to sell : me .A woman holds her malnourished child More than 3 million children die globally each year as a consequence of malnutrition Photograph : Ismail Taxta/Reuters On waste food I asked why they did n’t just stop doing the buy-one-get-one-free deals, the famed “ bogofs ” that encourage shoppers to buy more than they need ? Why did n’t they stop selling pocket fruit and vegetable, with their unnecessary use-by dates, which infantilise customers and make them throw aside food that is absolutely edible ? Tesco insisted that most of the waste was either in the playing field or in the home plate and not in store. This seems more than a small disingenuous. A batch of waste in department of agriculture is a direct solution of supermarkets cancelling orders, or refusing produce on specious quality grounds. sure, it never reaches the supermarket shelves to be wasted there, but that does n’t mean the supermarkets are n’t creditworthy for it. Their initiatives on healthy eat were even less robust. They admitted that the plan, which involved looking at their customers ‘ eating habits via Clubcard data, required those customers to opt in to the program. Anybody who opts in for healthy eat advice is credibly not the person most in necessitate of it. Demolishing Tesco ‘s publicity-seeking initiatives, their attempts to recast themselves as the good guys post the horsemeat scandal, in truth did n’t take much feat. therefore the electronic mail request I sit down with the headman executive to explain what I thought they should be doing. I declined, and not very politely, because I in truth do have appalling manners. I told them I was n’t in truth up for acting as a free adviser to a multi-billion-pound company. Far better, I suggested, that I stick with being a diarist and they stick with being a supermarket. I suggested we do a face-to-face interview with the foreman of the ship’s company, all on the record. To my surprise, they agreed. Philip Clarke ‘s harbinger as head executive, Terry Leahy, had been businessman as rock candy star, the pirate who wielded a well-cut suit like it was a deadly weapon. Clarke presents as the comfortably upholster grocer. And it was the sweet-natured, local grocer who was there to meet me in his streamlined boardroom in the center of London ‘s St James ‘s. Tesco, Clarke said, was not just a retailer. It was a custodian of the food chain. “ When you have 30 % of the retail trade it comes with responsibilities. And I bitterly regret that four of our products were laced with horsemeat. ” He accepted that the deals they had done with producers had been besides rugged, that they needed to be in partnership with them. He acknowledged that the ball-shaped market had changed, that they could n’t just assume they could buy in food from all over the global because the emerging middle classes of China, India and Brazil may have got to them first gear. In what was a noteworthy admission for the world who runs one of the UK ‘s biggest food retailers, which competes furiously on monetary value, he acknowledged that food was merely sold besides cheaply for farmers to get the sort of refund they needed to invest in the agrarian basis. “ Because of growing global demand, it is going to change, ” he said. “ There ‘s going to be more necessitate and more atmospheric pressure. Over the long term I think food prices and people ‘s proportion of income may good be going up but we ‘ll be doing our morsel. Unless more food is produced prices must go up. It ‘s the basic jurisprudence of supply and demand. ” Philip Clarke had said the unsayable. In the days that followed, Clarke ‘s admission on the need for food prices to rise would make headlines. He finished by admitting to me that Tesco had a big region to play in cutting down on thriftlessness, by not reneging on contracts and forcing farmers to dump crops. “ There will have to be an end to that, ” Clarke said. Tesco would have to become better at forecasting their needs. And where they had ordered besides much they would have to take duty “ for selling them on the open marketplace for a lower price than we contracted to pay ”. Unsurprisingly a fortune of this receptiveness and committedness to change was met with agnosticism by both diligence and consumers. After all, this was big, bad Tesco we were talking about. surely they did n’t actually mean it ?

In October 2013, Tesco’s report on waste within its own food supply chain showed that in six months it had wasted almost 30,000 tonnes: 21% was fruit and veg; 41% was bakery items

But still the initiatives came. In October 2013 they issued a reputation on waste within their own food provision chain. In the first six months of the class they had wasted about 30,000 tonnes of what could have been lunch ; 21 % was fruit and vegetables, but a huge 41 % was bakery items. They were filling their shelves with bread that cipher ever bought, let alone ate. Tesco estimated that across the UK food industry as a wholly, 68 % of all bagged salads were never eaten. And therefore they started making commitments : where possible, food that had not been bought would be distributed to charities like FareShare, for redistribution to community projects and food banks. Bogofs on large bags of salad would come to an end, in-store bakeries would put less bread on expose and they would remove display-until dates on bags of fruit and vegetables, which consumers said they found confusing. It ‘s not the lapp as removing bagging altogether, but it is a begin. How badly should all this be taken ? Can a company like Tesco truly be character of the solution ? The honest answer is that we ca n’t afford for them not to be. Mass retailers are a part of the landscape whether we like it or not. A privileged few may have lifestyles that enable them to avoid multiples altogether, but the majority will continue to shop there. We need Tesco to take seriously the challenges of food security. The real question is whether they can continue to do so in the face of pressure from shareholders. As 2013 came to an end, Tesco plc was faced with some truly atrocious trading results. united kingdom sales were polish 1.5 % in the one-third quarter. In Ireland they had plummeted 8.1 %. The lie of Europe was down 4 %. A year that had started with the ship’s company discovering there was some cavalry in its burgers ended with Tesco looking like a bite of an old nag. It was n’t just the adult food retailers who spent 2013 struggling with their responsibilities. In June, David Cameron, convened a “ hunger acme “ of world powers to thrash out a new external design to combat malnutrition. He would have been forgiven for being a little defeated by the siding. He was the merely actual leader to attend ; the rest were bare ministers. Around £2.7bn was pledged that sidereal day to tackle the problem, though it was pointed out by critics that in 2009, at another intergovernmental meet in L’Aquila, Italy, closely £15bn had been pledged, and very little of that money had ever been released. In any case, much of that turned out to be cash already pledged as separate of other external help initiatives. During the crave acme a 45,000-strong crowd gathered in Hyde Park, London, at a rally staged by the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign, which argues that the offspring is n’t one of lack of food, but of lack of equal distribution and unfair taxation and aid regimes. It was proofread, if proof were needed, that the issue had moved far beyond the mean world of policy wonks and academics. Food security was now formally region of the political agenda. That lapp workweek a report [ PDF ] in the medical journal the Lancet revealed that there had been a miscount. Previously it had been thought that somewhere union of 2 million children under five die globally each class of conditions they might differently survive if they were n’t malnourished. The statisticians had redone their sums and discovered that the total was actually union of 3 million. In November, a leak draft of a new report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, due for issue this spring, revealed that fluctuations in weather are already having an affect on ball-shaped agrarian yields. It predicted that cosmopolitan food output could drop by angstrom much as 2 %, while both population and demand continue to rise.

In short, the food security bode during 2013 was blue and disturb, with potential outbreaks of calamity. But not everything was misery and catastrophe. Because in London that fine company Pizza Hut ( UK ) Ltd had decided that precisely the right moment had arrived for the launching of a £17.25 pizza boasting a crust containing 10 miniskirt cheeseburgers, with an overall calorie count of 2,880. many will tell you it ‘s hardly the end of the populace. It ‘s good a pizza. And they would be proper. By itself, it is n’t the end of the world. But it has the electric potential to make a bloody good contribution. This is an edit excerpt of a new chapter from A Greedy Man in a hungry World by Jay Rayner