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Published on July 14th, 2015 | by BirminghamLiving


Birmingham Food Industry

Taking the food Industry back In time…

Birmingham like any other city had a plethora of food and drink manufacturers. In the food industry Cadbury is the most well known and the cities largest employer and unlike other large players in the food and drink market has remained in Birmingham. Ansells Brewery, once the dominating focal point of Aston, has gone, along with Birds Custard and Typhoo Tea, the brands still exist but have been absorbed into multinational groups and moved away from Birmingham.

HP sauce is another recent casualty, now there is virtually no industry left in Aston at all..

The way we buy food has changed dramatically and has resulted in the demise of the corner shop and the domination of supermarkets. Supermarkets had been around in the 50s but in the 60s the out of town large supermarket in purpose built buildings started the slow decimation of the corner shop.

Supermarkets could stock a far larger range of products and consumer demand was for more and more varied products. The introduction of Chinese and Indian food also widened the tastes of the average British family. In the 1950s how many British families had tasted curry or Chinese food for instance? Now we could ask the question how many British families have not tasted or even cooked this food?. Package holidays to the Mediterranean countries have also had a effect on the way, and more importantly, what we eat. Pizza and Pasta being unheard of by the average British family in the 50s.

Did you know…

Corner shops have taken on a new role as late openers for fill in shopping. The ability of immigrant families, mainly Asian, to work long unsociable hours alongside their families has kept corner shops alive. In the 90s we have seen supermarkets actively target the corner shop market by opening smaller shops in towns and cities. For instance leaving Birmingham City Centre at around 8 pm at night in the 80s and wanting some small shopping items would mean a stop at a local corner shop on the way home. Now you can find small shops run by Tesco & Marks and Spencer within the city opening till 10 pm with an amazing assortment of goods.

Its interesting to note how there has been an about change in restaurants and cafes too. Remember the Kardomah Cafe in New Street, if you look carefully you can still see the imprint of the name in the wall above the door! New Street also had two Lyons Coffee shops and then they fell out of favor. Now we have Costa Coffee  etc and all of a sudden coffee shops are back in favor. Did we get sick of years of Instant coffee after Kardomah closed?

The Balti curry was  invented in Birmingham in the mid seventies by an Indian restaurant owner anxious to get an edge on his competitors, it soon spread and now Balti dishes are served in every UK Indian Restaurant! The Balti Triangle, which is mostly in Sparkbrook, specializes in Balti dishes and is now a tourist attraction. However don’t ask for a Balti when you are in Asia because unless they have been to Birmingham they wont know what you are talking about, apart from the fact you have just requested a bucket! You often see the sign inside the window saying Authentic Indian Food but its neither authentic or Indian in the majority of cases. 90% of all Indian Restaurants are run and owned by Bangladeshi’s and the food they serve is a contrived Europeanised version of the Bangladeshi curry. Still we all love it and it is a major industry in the UK so pass the poppadoms!


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