Suffolk pig flies under Olympic radar: Organisers announce details of 'world's largest peace time catering operation'


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The Independent Online

It may come as scant comfort, but somewhere in the corner of a Suffolk field there roams a pig who is to die a martyr’s death.

McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Heineken, Cadburys and Nature Valley have parted with considerable sums to ensure they are the only branded foodstuffs on sale at the Olympics, but the pigs of Dingley Dell, an artisanal pork producer that supplies meat to some of Gordon Ramsay's restaurants, appear to have slipped in under the radar.

When, eventually, they come to be served in an “Oxfordshire cross-hatched bread roll” at the Olympic Park this summer, they will have quietly undermined the totalitarian marketing intentions of Mcdonalds and the rest.

Olympic organisers announced details of what will be available on site, for those not taken with a visit to the world’s largest McDonalds, currently under construction there. The menu, described as “Best of British”, includes “cod and chips £8” and “Singapore noodle, stir fried egg noodle, chicken, prawns, char sui Pork, chilli and shredded peppers in a hoi sin dressing – £8.50”.

In accordance with promises made to the giant corporate paymasters, they will be sold in non-branded containers, but, it seems, with one or two exceptions.

Those queuing up for hog roast will be treated to, according to the menus, “Freshly carved Dingley Dell hog roasted Red Tractor pork”.

“I knew, of course, that we had some contracts with regard to providing food for the Olympics," said Matt Hayward, Dingley Dell's founder. "But I didn’t think we’d be named. I’m delighted they’re releasing our name.”

Another firm, Long Clawson, a Leicestershire co-operative of 50 small Stilton producing farms, were similarly surprised by their Olympic name check. Olympic pie-eaters are to be treated to “Farm assured Scotch Beef with Long Clawson Stilton Pie, Irish mashed potato with Red Tractor Cream and British butter and onion gravy", for £8.

“We find that only three per cent of our customers recognise our name,” said Anthony Reeson, the marketing director at Long Clawson. “We’re very happy to be on the Olympic menu."

A Locog spokesman said: “These companies are not in the same league as McDonalds and Coca Cola, and this little bit of exposure is good news for them.” Undoubtedly true, but it is in marked contrast to the growing number of shops and small businesses who have had Olympic displays removed from their windows, and told not to sell “Olympic breakfasts” and such like as the torch relay has made its way round the country over the last week and a half, in order to preserve the monopoly the Olympics’ leading sponsors have over the games’ trademarks.

The food prices are comparable with those of Wembley Stadium and other major sporting venues, though the variety appears significantly higher. A 330ml bottle of Heineken, will sell for £4.20, equating to around £6 a pint. A bottle of Coca-Cola will cost £2.30. With airport style security to enter the park, spectators will not be permitted to bring their own drinks. Sandwiches and small scale packed lunches will be permitted, but not picnic hampers and sizeable cool boxes. Empty drinks bottles will be permitted, and can be filled from fountains inside the park for free.

Organisers say the 14 million meals they will serve across 40 locations “the largest peace time catering operation in the world.”

Athletes will eat 1.2 million meals over the course of the competition. One of the athletes and coaches’ dining rooms seats 5,000 people.

The athletes menu

With such tiny margins separating glory from irrelevance at this summer's Games, just what goes into a gold medal dinner?

Garlic Yellow Courgettes, of course.

Olympic organisers estimate that Olympic competitors will eat a total of 1.2 million meals this summer, just one part of the “largest peace time catering operation in the world.”

The precise details of the 1,300 meal choices on offer remains a secret, but some of the lunch and dinner options will include: Duck with Ginger & Spring Onions, Vegetable Stroganoff, Curry with Sugar Snap Peas and Diced Potato, Scotch Broth, Dried Seaweed, Garlic Yellow Courgettes, Treacle Tart & Cream and Broccoli & Aubergine Pizza.

Whether any of these will float Mr Usain Bolt’s boat is unknown, though the great man is on record as being partial to a chicken nugget. Fortunately for him, there will be no shortage of those on sale at the world’s largest McDonald’s, currently being built on the Olympic Park.

And, after considerable pressure from the Green Party, the American fast food giant has confirmed that 100 per cent of its Olympic chicken will be British, a considerable upgrade from the 10 per cent initially pledged.

“It is possible because of the recent increase in volumes of British chicken breast meat we have been purchasing,” the company said in a statement.