For a country that has more cattle than people, where a meal without beef is regarded as incomplete, a meat less burger could be a farfetched idea of cooking. Infinite Foods thinks not. Last week Thursday, they just did that, launched…guess what, a meatless burger. The burger is a new plant-based protein offering. Also launched on the day was Nature & Moi Cheese.
The event was held at the Caravela Restaurant, a Portuguese flavoured eatery in Extension 4, in the periphery of the African mall shopping complex. The big launch was attended by the media, and notable faces in the banking and hospitality industry, including the outgoing M.D of Baclays Bank Botswana, Reinette van der Merwe, as well as the General Manager of Cresta Lodge, Greg Soutter, among many others.
The moment of truth came for the attendants to sample and bite this burger. When this reporter heard about the meatless burger, her initial reaction was of curiosity. Will the bite live to the expectation of a meat burger as it is known to be? The Patti was something else, could not tickle the beef taste buds. Needed some seasoning, perhaps. If it was an audition and this reporter was the judge, the burger would probably have frowned at the verdict. The launch comes on the back drop of the signing of a contract between Go Fresh and Infinite Foods.
The deal will see Infinite Foods distributing the leading plant-based protein products in Botswana. It is part of the Botswana-based fresh produce brand expansion plans, to include plant-based protein products as part of its offerings. A press release explains that the brains behind Go Fresh is none other than leading entrepreneur Michelle Adelman. The company, says the release, has been delivering high quality fresh produce to consumers in Gaborone and Maun since 2014 and has won numerous awards for its technology-abled farming and approach to engaging Batswana youth leaders to run the company. It further says that The Beyond Burger is the flagship product of leading US plant-based meat company Beyond Meat.
The company, explains the release is at the forefront of the growing global movement towards a more sustainable approach to meat and protein. “Livestock agriculture has a detrimental impact on the environment, and it has become imperative that sustainable, less detrimental meat and protein alternatives be sourced. Companies like Beyond Meat are using cutting-edge science to change the way we think about and define meat. While the positive impact of plant-based meat on the planet and to human health is massive, the most revolutionary thing about The Beyond Burger® is that it looks, cooks, and tastes like beef. It is made entirely of plants and has no added hormones, antibiotics, GMOs, soy or gluten,” says the release.
According to the Director of Infinite Foods, Phenyo Moroka, as much as Batswana love their beef, we know that too much meat has been linked to high cholesterol, cancer and heart disease. He also says that it is high time we find ways to eat less meat.
“These are the words most of us don’t want to hear but imagine if you could enjoy all the things you love about eating meat, get all the protein, nutrients and delicious taste, but have no health worries linked to eating too much meat? That’s what has consumers going crazy for The Beyond Burger. It really is The Future of Protein,” he says.
A Beyond Burger patty has 20g of protein, more than a beef burger, with less saturated fat and no cholesterol. It also uses 99% less water than a traditional 113-gram beef burger, 93% less land, and produces 90% fewer greenhouse gases, according to a joint study by Beyond Meat and a major US university. Infinite Foods will initially launch The Beyond Burger in restaurants and foodservice outlets, adding to Beyond Meat’s current distribution in more than 12,000 restaurants including Carl’s Jr., TGI Fridays, BurgerFi, Bareburger and A&W Canada.
Shareholders of Cresta Marakanelo have overwhelmingly voted in favour of acquisition of several property assets around the country, which are expected to cut down on rental the company pays to landlords. Present at the meeting were shareholders who hold 98,8 808, 924 shares, representing 75, 6 percent of the shares eligible to vote at the meeting and 53,4 percent of the total issued share capital of the group.
Last Thursday, scores of shareholders at the extra ordinary general meeting held at Cresta Lodge gave the company the leeway to enter into a transaction in terms of which it will acquire Tribal Lot 141, Maun. The above land currently houses the Cresta’s Rileys Hotel. The property, which is currently rented by hospitality group, is currently owned by Botswana Hotel Development Corporation (BHDC). The latter is a subsidiary of government’s investment arm, Botswana Development Corporation (BDC).
A circular to shareholders seen by Botswana Guardian puts the price tag for the above asset at P 25million.
According to the group which is headed by Mokwena Morulane, shareholders have also given directors the nod to acquire Plot 50719 Gaborone (Cresta Lodge), Plot 6384 Francistown (Cresta Thapama), Plot 1169 Gaborone (CrestaPresident) and a portion of Plot 276 Selebi Phikwe (Cresta Bosele). All the above properties are owned by Letlole la Rona Limited, a Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) listed company. The above properties are expected to cost P235 million.
Cresta, which has lately not improved its profitability, is expected to fund the acquisition through debt. In a brief interview on Wednesday, Managing Director, Mokwena Morulane said they are content now that the shareholders have passed the resolution as the acquisition is in line with their strategy. Ahead of the extra ordinary meeting, the board which is chaired by Moatlhodi Lekaukau has pleaded with shareholders to vote in favour of the proposed acquisition for a number of factors.
“The Board believes that the future growth and sustainability of Cresta will be enhanced as a consequence of the acquisitions, as provided for in the Acquisition Agreements and recommends that Shareholders vote in favour of the ordinary resolutions necessary to approve and implement the Acquisitions. The director holding Cresta shares intends to vote in favour of the transaction,” reads a circular from the board.
All things being equal, Cresta will no longer be liable for the 8% annual rental escalations, which are adversely affecting the profitability of the Company, if the deal gets the approval nod from BSE and Competition Authority. The rental increase for 2019 will amount to P2.5 million for the properties, resulting in annual lease rentals of P34.1 million.
“Acquiring the Properties gives Cresta security of tenure beyond the remaining 18month lease term and allows the Company to invest in refurbishing the hotels to defend and increase its position in the market,” said Cresta.
Letlole la Rona (LLR) intends to pump over 500 million pula into new property acquisition on both the local market and neighbouring Namibia.
Chikuni Shenjere-Mutiswa, LLR Chief Executive Officer said the company plans to finance the transactions through cash anticipated from sale of its hotel properties to Cresta Marakanelo and debt funding. Though optimistic that disposing of the four hotel properties – President Hotel, Bosele Hotel, Cresta Lodge and Thapama will sail through, Shenjere-Mutiswa’s target remains to acquire new properties before the end of the company’s financial year.
“Transactions are by nature uncertain. Prospects are however very good,” said Shenjere-Mutiswa, citing that Cresta transactions will not deter plans to acquire new properties.“We are going to carry out our expansion programme,” said Shenjere-Mutiswa clarifying LLR plans if the Cresta deal does not materialise.On the local market, LLR is eyeing two industrial properties at a cost of 170 million pula and 180 million pula while in Namibia its rental and office properties stands at 250 million pula.
The LLR and Cresta Marakanelo deal has almost reached conclusion. Worth 235 million pula, the transaction is waiting for approval from Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE), Competition Authority, shareholders, unit-holders in LLR and Cresta obtaining funding for the property.
LLR is being pushed to make the sale ahead of its lease agreement with Cresta Marakanelo lapses in June 2020 to avoid huge write down on the assets and potential to reduce ability to pay dividends to shareholders. Shenjere-Mutiswa said inability to pay healthy dividends will raise ‘question marks on our rationale for existence’.
“We are a property income fund institution associated with stable dividend and guaranteed income on a monthly basis,” said Shenjere-Mutiswa highlighting that LLR is not prepared to keep the hotels at a variable rental structure.“The variable rental structure won’t work for us,” he said.
Knives out, and adorning their white aprons, Chefs came out to play this Saturday at the annual Cresta Hotels Chefs Competition. The competition sees chefs from the 12 properties of Cresta Marakanelo facing off against one another and showcasing their culinary skills in a hotly contested competition that is not for the weak and the faint hearted.
The annual spectacular which this year saw a very big crowd coming all out to support and witness the chefs in the kitchen is proving to be a hit with both chefs and the public. Something worth mentioning is that the competition is taking the culinary industry on an exhilarating journey. The event took place at Cresta Lodge in Gaborone.
The competition is divided into six categories - Cold platters (Category A), Menu for one person consisting of Appetizer, Main course and dessert (Category B), Main Course for two people and consists of meat, fish, game on a suitable platter including garnish, vegetable and starch (Category C), Pastry (Category D), Showpiece fruit/vegetable (category E), and the last category is the Mystery Basket/ Live cooking (Category F). One of the most exciting categories was Category D. A hit with those with a penchant for pastries such as this reporter, the many dishes that were on display were a sight to behold and tempted one to fill one’s face with them and forget about plans for weight loss. The other displays for the other categories were equally astounding and proved that the chefs knew what they were doing.
But it is always the live cooking that takes the crown for the audience who are always eager to see how the chefs handle the pressure and if indeed they are professionals and know their way around the kitchen. The chefs were allocated an hour to prepare a starter and a main dish. Some rose to the occasion and handled the challenge like pros. And one or two, well time was not on their side, and they crumbled under the pressure.
Out of the eight that made it through the live cooking segment of the competition, some cooked up a storm, and cemented the fact why they are working for one of the top hotels in the country. Speaking with the Group Operations Manager, Jonathan Cox, he tells this publication that the competition is growing every year. And that it is open to only chefs from their 12 properties.
To level the playing field, Executive Chefs can only participate as mentors. “We have seen a tremendous improvement this year,” he says. “It is a talent and skills based competition. It gives the chefs a chance to see what their colleagues are doing, and they also get to learn from others,” he says. He also points out that they roped in three judges, and that the winning chefs and teams walked away with prizes and medals. The event had sponsors/partners that include Gabs Electronics, Sennfoods, World Foods, and Bidvest.