Viewpoint

first_imgIt will come as no surprise to bakers to know that the busiest time at this week’s Food & Bake exhibition at the NEC (March 19-22) was between the hours of 10.30am to 1.30pm; it is an early trade by profession. As I write, the show is still taking place. Whether it was ‘a good pr exercise’ for exhibitors or ‘good leads or orders’ ensued, is something we shall evaluate shortly.Food & Bake comprised mainly ingredient suppliers and machinery and equipment firms. Bakers with finished goods tended to exhibit more in Convenience Retailing Show or Food & Drink exhibition, which took place simultaneously in other halls. This has the benefit of attracting visitors from the other shows to Foood & Bake but the negative of exhibitors having to choose in which of the three shows to participate. There just might be an argument for widening the remit of the show and running it in alternate years to the other shows.As well as the exhibition there was the Golden Jubilee British Society of Baking conference (pg 8-9). It was simply great, thanks largely to the marvellous networking skills, attention to detail and huge personal effort of Jean Grieves. One morning was dedicated to high-powered industry speakers and the next to simply superb craftsmen. We will be looking at a selection of their talks over the coming weeks. One of the topics of converation at the show was of course the future of the Harvestime plant bakery at Walsall. There is the continuing dichotomy of ‘overcapacity in the industry’ and the desire to save over 300 jobs if possible and see marvellous characters like Jonathan Price back at the helm of what he knows best. But Maple Leaf has a good track record in this country and in Canada too.And salt has yet again hit the headlines. If the evidence of too much salt in our diets is incontrovertible, the FSA needs to stick to its guns. Sainsbury’s has already set a lead over the issue, achieving many of the former 2010 FSA targets in its bread. Now those targets seem to have changed yet again after lobbying by the Federation of Bakers and others. The most important message we and the FSA need to be able to give out to the public about bread is that five slices a day are GOOD for you!last_img read more

Read More →

Renshaw urges bakers to be choosy on ingredients

first_img“Consumers are looking for a cake with immediate wow factor – something wonderful that takes their breath away and creates that sense of celebration,” says Susanne Edler of the Anglo-Austrian Patisserie and Gloriette Patisserie in London. “Our experience indicates that consumers want quality celebration cakes with high levels of individuality and creativity that have a visual impact.”And David Grieve of bakery ingredients manufacturer Renshaw (Liverpool, Merseyside) claims this impact can be achieved simply and profitably by selecting the most appropriate ingredients and applications. “Simply choosing the right sugarpaste can be crucial in terms of the production of celebration cakes,” he says. “Bakers should be looking for products which suit their individual production style, whether this be semi-automated or hand-finishing and which suits the application skill levels available.”Renshaw manufactures Regalice, which the company says gives a smooth even covering without excessive rolling, making it quick to use. “Not too stretchy and not too soft, it doesn’t tear or crack when drying out,” says Edler. “The consistency of Regalice means that it always performs the same enabling us to maintain production schedules, as we do not need to adjust our application techniques to suit individual batches of sugarpaste.”Choosing ingredients that give bakers the profits they want is a more complex decision than just buying the cheapest product on the market. “Sacrificing performance for bottom-line price may not be the answer,” says Grieve.Considering products that have more than one use is one good way to optimise expenditure, control stock rotation and minimise losses caused by deteriorating products. “Ideally, look for cake decorating ingredients made by companies with tight batch production control to be assured of the consistency of handling characteristics and colour,” he advises. “With new sugarpaste products with cleaner and more natural ingredients, Renshaw can help bakers meet market demands and create a route to increased trade and bigger profits,” he adds. “Regalice is also now made using non-hydrogenated fats.”last_img read more

Read More →

Cheap ranking for UK bread

first_imgT he UK is the world’s bargain basement for bread according to new figures from the Economist Intelligence Unit, supplied exclusively to British Baker.Despite press headlines this month about rising bread costs, such as “Bread set to break the £1 a loaf barrier”, the UK is actually one of the cheapest countries in the world for bread. People in Israel, Colombia and China could buy cheaper bread in London than at home, and Manchester bread prices are even cheaper than in London.The Economist Intelligence Unit’s ranking of bread prices in 130 countries around the world was gathered by mystery shoppers in September 2006. It reveals that the average price of a kilo of bread in London is £1.09, which makes it 81st on price out of 130 cities surveyed. The average kilo of bread in Manchester is 88p, making it 103rd in the ranking.The survey also illustrates how cheap supermarket bread, in particular, is in the UK, compared to other countries around the world.A kilo of bread in a supermarket in London costs 61p. That means London’s supermarkets rank 114th on price out of the 130 cities the EIU tracks. A kilo sold in a Manchester supermarket, the other UK city in the survey came in at 69p.The survey also indicates a gap between London’s supermarket prices and prices of bread on sale in its top end retailers (such as Selfriges Food Hall).price gapThe mystery shoppers identified a gap of £1.03 between the supermarket price and the high-end price in London. That compares to much smaller gaps in many other countries around the world. In Munich, for example, the gap is only 30p, in Cairo it is 10p, and even in Manchester the gap was only 39p.Food and drink analyst and Economist Intelligence Unit survey editor Jon Copestake explained that prices are worked out for each city by taking the weight and cost of a typical loaf of bread and calculating price per kilo.He commented: “Clearly, supermarket bought bread in the UK is a different quality to some of the commonly eaten breads in other countries. And there are also economies of scale, as in the UK we take an 800g loaf, whereas in Northern Europe, we may pick up a 400g loaf.”The main thing in the UK is that retailers are pushy on commodity breads; bread is one of the key products used in price wars.” nlast_img read more

Read More →

Cooplands buys Skeltons

first_imgCooplands of Scarborough has bought Skeltons from administration in a deal which almost doubles its estate from 43 to 77 shops and makes it the UK’s fourth-largest bakery chain.The deal includes 34 of Hull-based Skeltons’ 43 shops as well as the Skeltons factory in Lorraine Street, east Hull, which is now set for “a major investment programme that will take its facilities into the 21st century”.And the shops are set to be refurbished and re-branded as Cooplands in a rolling programme, to bring them up to the “high specification” of its other shops, it said.Paul Coopland, MD of Cooplands, said the deal had saved 500 jobs, boosting his workforce to 1,100. The new business will complement Cooplands’ existing bakery in Scarborough and shops around the north-east.Coopland said: “We are extremely pleased to have secured this deal, helping make us the largest independent bakery chain in the north of England.”The new bakery would allow it to ease pressure at its Scarborough bakery, which was operating at capacity, Cooplands added.Joint administrator Edward Klempka of PricewaterhouseCoopers said Skeltons’ cake-making division, with two shops in Grimsby and Hull, was still on the market. Part of its wholesale business has gone to Martins Bakery, in Manchester and the rest has ceased trading. And seven shops have closed since administrators were called in on March 26.Skeltons blamed increased competition from supermarkets and rising energy costs for its woes. The company also had a deficit in its pension scheme, projected to rise to £4m over its lifespan.Klempka said: “This was a fourth generation family-run business and there was a lot of pride in the way it was run. However, there were real issues, including annual trading losses of around £1m for several years.”Cooplands is now the UK’s number four bakery chain on shop numbers, behind Greggs, Lyndale Foods and Cooks the Bakery.last_img read more

Read More →

Aga sells foodservice and bakery arm for £260m

first_imgEquipment company Aga last week agreed a £260m sale of its foodservice and bakery equipment division to Italian manufacturer Ali SpA.The division, which includes Mono Equipment, Miller’s Vanguard, Williams Refrigeration, Falcon Foodservice and AFE Serviceline in the UK, is set to run as before with no changes to management structure.Aga’s commercial foodservice operation employs about 3,000 staff. It is understood that all of those workers will transfer to the Italian owner. The deal is subject to shareholder approval at an extraordinary general meeting – likely to be held before Christmas.In the financial year ended 31 December, 2006, the division made an operating profit of £21.2m on sales of £250.3m. William McGrath, chief executive of Aga, commented: “It is pleasing to agree this sale at a good price to a group that is already driving change in the foodservice equipment sector. We will now focus on developing our consumer operations and on delivering value to shareholders.”Aga plans to focus on growing the profitability of its consumer business in premium kitchen appliances, such as the Aga, Rangemaster and Marvel brands, concentrating on organic growth.A significant proportion of the sale proceeds will be passed to shareholders, while Aga will set aside £32.5m for its pension scheme.Privately-owned company Ali generates annual revenues of around E850m (£592.8m) and has 32 manufacturing sites in 12 countries. Operations in the UK include Barnsley-based Dawson Foodservice Equipment, which supplies dishwashers, cooking equipment, steamers and refrigeration equipment to the UK commercial catering market.last_img read more

Read More →

Ryvita limbers up with the launch of Limbos

first_imgRyvita has added a new snack to its range for the more health-conscious consumer. Ryvita Limbos are available from May and come in both single and multi-pack formats. The crispy baked snacks contain 90% less fat than regular crisps and around 70 calories per bag.”We wanted to develop an alternative that would take baked snacks to a new gold standard level,” said Nigel Helms, Ryvita’s marketing director.Limbos contain 82% wholegrain and are made with 100% British wheat. They are available in Cheese & Onion, Salt & Vinegar and Smokey Bacon flavours.RRP: single bag 49p, multi £1.69[http://www.ryvita.co.uk]last_img read more

Read More →

Reporting in

first_img== Kirk Hunter ==Chief executive, Scottish Association of Master BakersThe “R” word is now out in the open. From the Prime Minister down, officialdom acknowledges what every baker has known for months – we are in recession.The announcement this week that food sales have fallen in Britain for the first time since records began reinforces the point that bakers are not immune to these economic ill winds.Bakers are already responding to these challenges, cutting costs, rationalising businesses, seeking greater efficiencies and developing new markets. But they need help.There must be a reassessment of policies that add costs to businesses. We are already seeing friction between the green agenda and politicians’ growing awareness of their economy’s inability to pay the price.Do the European Parliamentarians currently pushing through pesticide restrictions on farmers really understand the impact on cereal yields and food production? I am sure the electorate may have views on measures that artificially push up food prices at a time of recession.Does the Food Standards Agency (FSA) accept that it is slightly unreasonable to be imposing on the baking industry the costs and risks of re-engineering products to meet the FSA’s ever stricter diet and health agenda, at a time when food companies’ margins are wafer thin?Is there no understanding of the commercial facts of life?Can the UK government put the debate on immigration onto a realistic footing? Immigrant labour is vital to the Scottish baking industry. With Scotland facing a demographic time bomb it is essential that we continue to attract a flow of skilled immigrants.It is true that there is a vast untapped supply of workers already here for us to turn to. However, any baker in Scotland will tell you the difficulties in attracting these people into the industry. To restrict the supply of immigrant labour will be to seriously undermine our industry.last_img read more

Read More →

Fraser takes top job at McCambridge

first_imgThe McCambridge Group has appointed Neil Fraser as its new chief executive, following chairman and chief executive Andrew Coppell’s decision to step down from the board.Fraser had recently been appointed group commercial director from Grant Thorton and is now tasked with leading the business through the next stage of its strategic plan.While at Grant Thornton, Fraser was lead advisor to the group during its restructuring process.Coppell, who has overseen the turnaround of McCambridge since October 2008, has been appointed chairman of Alter-native Hotel Group.last_img read more

Read More →

Printer offers greener style

first_imgSATO has launched the TH2 label printer which helps users meet food standards requirements and reduce unnecessary wastage.An internal real-time clock means it calculates and prints on to labels the pull, thaw and use-by dates for products stored in its user-specific database, avoiding the possibility of operator error. The user-defined database, which can be downloaded to the unit’s SD card or accessed via the LAN, means that date calculation responsibilities are removed from the staff on the shop floor.The TH2 can operate within a temperature range between 0C and 40C. It has an anti-microbial coating and other food industry applications include ingredient labelling and shelf labelling.A rechargeable lithium-ion battery allows 4,000-5,000 labels to be printed from a single charge. The TH2 has a carrying handle as standard and a range of accessories are available such as a keypad cover and a label cutter.last_img read more

Read More →

Club creates a better biscuit

first_imgUnited Biscuits (UBUK) has reformulated its Jacob’s Club biscuit range, which now has a significant increase in chocolate content, as well as a new packaging design.The biscuit bars, available in orange, mint and fruit versions, will also highlight the fact they contain no artificial colours, flavours or hydrogenated vegetable oil on-pack.The biscuits, snacks and cakes manufacturer has also launched a new on-pack promotion for its McCoy’s brand crisps. It has teamed up with the British Curry Club to offer consumers two main curry dishes for the price of one with each pack of McCoy’s purchased. UBUK has also added two limited edition packs to support the promotion: Mighty Madras and Rogan Oh-My-Josh.last_img read more

Read More →