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Mowbray fight may be over

first_imgNorthern Foods’ proposed sale of its chilled pastry business could end its long running legal battle with the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association.Its chilled division, which is now up for sale, includes its two Melton Mowbray pork pie plants in Shropshire and Trowbridge, Wiltshire.Northern Foods has been fighting the Association’s bid to restrict production of Melton Mowbray pork pies to a 1,800 sq mile zone in the Melton Mowbray area of Leicester since 2004, and had many setbacks in the courts. Chief executive Pat O’Driscoll told British Baker the case will progress while the businesses are under the ownership of Northern Foods. However, any new owner will have to decide how to take things forward.last_img

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Greggs still top of the shops but Subway makes up ground

first_imgBakery chain Greggs has topped British Baker’s annual Top 50 bakery retailers list for the second year running, despite mounting competition from franchise chains, including sandwich giant Subway and cafe operator Costa Coffee.Greggs currently has 1,368 outlets in the UK, up 53 on last year, ahead of number two Subway, which opened 240 outlets over the year and now has 1,020. Cafe chain Costa Coffee is at number three with 660 outlets, including 160 opened over the course of 2007.Greggs’ nearest traditional bakery rival is Lyndale Foods, which has 201 outlets, branded Sayers, Hampsons and Maison Blanc, down 44 year-on-year.Greggs’ MD Sir Michael Darrington told British Baker he put the bakery chain’s success down to “a great team of people, making enjoyable-tasting products”. Last year saw Greggs test innovative new formats, he said, and over the next year, nationwide expansion will continue, with these new formats pushed harder. Details were under wraps and customers would be the first to see developments, he said.Ideas on trial nationwide include extended opening hours, range changes and new branding, including a Fresh to Go branded outlet in Lincoln.Kevin Graham, Subway regional director for Europe, Israel and South Africa, said that Subway’s rapid expansion reflected a growing trend for offering customers choice. “Customers like to personalise their sandwiches by choosing everything from the bread to the sauce, which is only possible if it is made in front of them as Subway does,” he said.New names on the list this year include Patisserie Holdings at number 22, formed through the buyout of the Druckers and Patisserie Valerie chains by entrepreneur Luke Johnson.Names which no longer feature include last year’s number 20, the sandwich chain Benjy’s, which went bust early in 2007. Meanwhile, Cooplands of Scarborough acquired last year’s number 24, AC Skelton & Sons from administration in June.Full details, pages 16-18.last_img read more

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Let’s get technical

first_imgThe importance of investing in the future of the industry emerged as a key theme at this year’s SAMB (Scottish Association of Master Bakers) Technical Sessions, which were held at the Peebles Hydro Hotel. Guest speaker Pat Smyth, who is president of the Irish Association of Master Bakers and managing director of AB Mauri company Yeast Products, stressed the need to address the industry’s “low skills base”, adding that “educational support is becoming an issue”. He also identified a problem with retaining people in the industry.His presentation focused on the main challenges facing the baking industry in Ireland, but many of the themes would have chimed with his largely Scottish audience. Over the last 12 years, he noted, more than 60% of bakery goods manufacturers – from both the plant and craft sectors – had left the industry, many because property values had offered more attractive returns than continuing the business. Furthermore, the growth of in-store bakeries within multiple retailers’ stores had intensified the pressure on traditional producers in terms of pricing, margins and variety of offering.At the same time, bakers were also being confronted by the challenge of a changing marketplace, according to Smyth. Notably, the rapidly-rising Irish population was becoming ever more ethnically mixed and also more sophisticated in its tastes, owing to wider travel experiences. There was also a growing awareness of the benefits of healthier foods with lower fat and salt content, as well as ever-stronger demand for quality, convenience foods.Smyth took these factors into account in making a number of predictions about the future of the Irish baking industry. He anticipated that the leading bakery goods manufacturers would operate “both north and south in an all-island market”, which was currently worth in excess of €640 million per annum. And he added that further acquisitions and mergers in both the plant and craft segments of the trade would result in “fewer but larger producers”. He also expected a continuation of Irish imports of bakery products – particularly from the UK and western Europe – and an increase in regulatory controls imposed on the industry.Change would also generate opportunities, according to Smyth. For example, he said, there was scope for traditional bakers to create a product weight mix that better suited the evolving marketplace, with perhaps more emphasis on smaller packaging sizes to reflect the trend towards smaller households.He closed his presentation by posing a number of key questions, including: “Can we ignore the skills shortage in our sector? Can we, as an industry, continue to allow the multiple buyers to hold our margins to ransom? And will higher unit prices allow us to attract a skilled, quality workforce?” He also pondered whether the baking industry was truly listening to its customers, adding: “We all say we are, but are we really?”Flour changesThe complexities of flour were then revealed in a joint presentation from Hutchison Flour’s Andrew Chisholm and Tim Hall. According to the former, the flour used by bakers had undergone considerable change over the last three decades as a result of the emergence of the Chor-leywood Bread Process and changes to functional additives, several of which had been driven by regulation. And whereas Can-ada had been a major source of wheat in the 1970s, an increasing proportion of wheat was now coming from the UK and from fellow European countries.Hall, who is mill manager at Hutchison Flour, stressed the key role of technology in flour production, including improved methods of on- and off-line wheat analysis, as well as the introduction of “sophisticated control systems to enable man-less mills”. Partly as a result of advances in programming technology, the UK’s 59 flour mills now employ fewer than 2,000 people, it was pointed out.Trip back in timeIn addition to focusing on current and future developments affecting bakers, the latest SAMB Technical Sessions also indulged in some unapologetic nostalgia as Jim Brown, now approaching retirement as purchasing manager at James Fleming & Co, looked back on more than 50 years in the industry. He highlighted the emergence of the Chorleywood Bread Process as one of the most significant developments during his time in the one of the most significant developments during his time in the trade. Another change for the better, he added, was the shift from imperial to metric weights, since this had simplified the process of calculating ingredient costs.In a typically humorous presentation, Brown produced an old black-and-white photo, showing more than 100 people attending a talk on sponges before casting doubt on whether the same subject matter would attract such a substantial following today.He also noted that his time as industrial liaison officer at Chor-leywood in the late 1960s and early 1970s had afforded him the opportunity of international travel – “to Dublin”.With guest speeches finished, SAMB’s outgoing president Joe McDonald made a presentation to George Ross, executive chairman of Inverurie-based JG Ross Bakers, in recognition of his six years as chairman of the Tech-nical Sessions in Peebles. Alan Stuart, managing director of Stuarts of Buckhaven, has ag-reed to take on the role for next year’s event.Bright young thingsThe Scottish Association of Master Bakers (SAMB) underlined its commitment to the future of the industry with the first-ever award of the James Allan Memorial Trophy at its latest Technical Sessions in Peebles. The recipient was David Dingwall of Forres-based Mac-lean’s Highland Bakery, who celebrated victory in a new competition created specifically to enable young bakers to showcase their skills.In the contest, held on April 30 at the Scottish Bakery Training Centre in Larbert, competitors were required to make a fermented product from scratch and also to finish another product, such as a sponge cake or a Danish pastry. These were then assessed by a panel of experts, including SAMB past-president John Murray and Andrew Chis-holm, technical manager of event sponsor Hutchison Flour.Dingwall, who also receives a first prize of £250, beat Ross Cameron of Crieff-based Camp-bell’s Bakery into second place, while Murray Barnett, of G H Barnett & Son of Anstruther, finished third. Cameron and Barnett take home cheques for, respectively, £100 and £50.The decision to create the competition followed a bequest to the Scottish Bakery Training Council by Hamish Burns Allan. The former owner of the James Allan bakery at Torrance, north of Glasgow, asked for the money to be used to encourage young bakers within the industry. He insisted in Peebles: “The future of the industry is in very good hands, so long as we can produce trainees like David.”Prior to the award of the trophy, which bears the name of Allan’s late father, SAMB’s head of skills training Arthur Rayer congratulated the six finalists on the quality of their work, given that they had been taken out of the “comfort zone” of their own bakeries. The competition provided young bakers with the opportunity to “meet each other, compete, measure their own skills and learn new skills”, he said.No bakery competitions of this type have been held outside the college environment in Scotland for a number of years, but the bequest provides SAMB with an opportunity to hold such contests “for many years to come”, according to Rayer.last_img read more

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Co-op bakery decision hits Inbake employees

first_imgSupermarket in-store bakery (ISB) company Inbake has been forced to make around 80 people redundant in the past year, after its main customer – the Co-operative Group – decided to bring its ISB operation in-house.Keith Bentley, co-director of East Sussex-based Inbake, said that eight ISBs and 10 satellite units at Co-op stores across the country had closed down in the past year, with around 80 job losses. Inbake’s last ISB with the Co-op closed in Northern Ireland in November. The company still operates an in-store bakery for Somerfield in Margate.“It was very disappointing to close these profitable bakeries and lose so many highly skilled bakers that may never return to the trade,” said Bentley. “Unfortunately for Inbake, the Co-op’s strategy has changed over the years to trading from smaller stores, which they feel would be more suitable for bake-off rather than full scratch bakeries.”Previously part of Bakery Services, Inbake was acquired with the Don Millers bakery retail and franchise business in a £50,000 management buy-out by Keith Bentley and David Drury in January 2008.last_img read more

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Café chains join FSA drive for health

first_imgFour more café chains have agreed to work with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to promote healthier eating through their shops.Camden Food Co, John Lewis Partnership Cafés, Sainsbury’s Cafés and Upper Crust have followed big chains, such as Greggs and Starbucks, in announcing healthy eating commitments in conjunction with the FSA. These focus on salt and saturated fat reduction, providing more nutritional information and promoting healthier options on menus.Upper Crust, which is owned by travel food retail operator SSP, plans to develop a programme of recipe amendments on items that do not meet the FSA salt targets or which earn ’red’ traffic lights by 2010. The firm will also investigate calorie-content labelling and better nutritional labelling.All four café chains will report regularly to the FSA on their progress with the initiatives.last_img read more

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Gail’s announces fifth shop opening

first_imgLondon-based artisan bakery Gail’s has announced plans to open a new shop in Queen’s Park, hot on the heels of its latest store opening in Clapham last month.The new outlet, Gail’s fifth, is due to open in November and will have its own unique interior, as with all other Gail’s shops. Co-general manager Emma King told British Baker that the company will be keeping many of the existing features of the building, such as some old tilework, and the design is planned to have a Moroccan feel to it. “We don’t want to be a cookie cutter-type brand. We try to make sure each store is very different,” said King. Gail’s sweet range has recently had an overhaul, with around a 90% change in what’s on the shelves compared to last month, she said. It is also currently trialling a range of products at Harvey Nichols. Its new Clapham shop has been open for around seven weeks and stocks a range of breads, produced at its parent company The Bread Factory, as well as cakes, pastries and sandwiches.last_img read more

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Waitrose agrees deal to sign up Duchy Originals

first_imgWaitrose has joined forces in a new agreement with Duchy Originals that will give the supermarket the exclusive right to originate, manufacture, distribute and sell Duchy products.Waitrose aims to more than double the current range of 200 products to around 500, and will pay a royalty to Duchy Originals on all wholesale and retail sales.Products, including a range of biscuits and snacks, desserts and breads, will continue to be sold in all 214 Waitrose stores and new lines are planned from Spring 2010. Waitrose will also sell the products wholesale to independent retailers.To date, Duchy’s has donated almost £7m to charitable causes throughout the UK and overseas, and it is hoped that sales growth of the brand will generate a substantial increase in the royalties to charity.The deal was described by Waitrose MD Mark Price, as “a match made in heaven”. Andrew Baker, chief executive of Duchy Originals, explained: “Because of our constitution, and the fact that we are owned by a charity, Duchy Originals has never been able to build up reserves for investing in future growth. This is a deal where everyone wins it is good for Duchy Originals, good for Waitrose, good for our consumers and good for charity.”In July this year, due to its failure to turn a profit, Duchy Originals’ Cornish bakery was taken over by Tamar Foods, part of the Samworth Brothers Group, which now produces the brand’s sweet tarts under licence.last_img read more

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Trend predictions

first_imgThe media is awash with trend predictions for 2010. So we’re not about to break ranks, are we? Here’s Stop the Week’s half dozen…1. Whoopie goldmine”The freshest food fad to waft in from American bakeries,” declared The Times on Saturday, “is the humble whoopie pie, a cake-and-cream dessert sandwich”. Always ones to blow our own trumpet, BB predicted this in our appropriately named ’Trend Predictor’ column back in 10 April 2009… Verdict: ****2. Politically incorrect pink cakesGaining traction in the media has been the Pinkstinks campaign (see: www.pinkstinks.co.uk). It “challenges the culture of pink, which invades every aspect of girls’ lives”. Are you guilty of destroying young girls’ self esteem, confidence and “life chances” by decorating pink celebration cakes? Then watch out, the Vikings are coming… Verdict: *3. iPhone influenceMore pervasive than pink is the iPhone, which continues to permeate every corner of our society. Cakes are no exception, and iPhone app-themed cakes are cropping up everywhere (see: http://bit.ly/6phqG9). And if that’s not enough to whet your creativity, the patron saint of doughnut-scoffing has made it on to the iPhone in The Simpsons Arcade game, where you have to steer Homer in his hunt to beat Mr Burns to the perfect doughnut one that happens to hold a deadly secret. Much like the following… Verdict: ***4. Drunk on doughnutsSure to appeal to Homer is the latest breakthrough from Israel the boozy doughnut with the equivalent alcohol content of a bottle of beer. The brainchild of a booze importer that signed up a pastry chef who is also a bartender what a job! they created a doughnut with vodka infused in the jam. They’re designed for “adults and party-goers” we’re presuming not childrens’ parties (though who are we to judge?). The UK has yet to scratch the surface of the binge Britain/bakery crossover potential, so BB is putting its whole weight behind this one. http://bit.ly/70ZOQG Verdict: *****5. The new cupcake? Stealing the ’new cupcake’ mantle from the whoopie pie, even before it has become popular in the UK is, once more, the humble doughnut. Reports from the US say boutique bakeries are turning to gourmet flavours, from pomegranate thyme to cherry balsamic to iced mojito. Meat, grape jam, butternut squash and white chocolate, chamomile, guava and cheese and apple cider have all made it into doughnuts Stateside. It’s all about “taking a relatively inexpensive item and turning it into a luxury item” and “playing with consumers’ notions of creativity and curiosity”, apparently. http://bit.ly/7eRAQA Verdict: ***6. Toasting the futureThere is a revolution going on out there in toaster innovation, folks. Design boffins are tweaking the classic bread heater to within an inch of its life. We’re still a long way from toaster nirvana, but this ’printer toaster’, made to look like a desktop inkjet, recently received design award plaudits. Following data last year showing that bread consumed at breakfast was in growth for the first time in years, the future, if it can be summed up in one word, and without wishing to draw apocalyptic parallels, is toast. http://bit.ly/5aOqUq Verdict: *****Rating: ***** Making whoopie **** Whoopie cushion*** Whoopi Goldberg ** Whoops-a-daisy * Whooping coughlast_img read more

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Brace’s in bid to save Warburtons bakery from closure

first_imgWarburtons has confirmed it is proposing to close its Newport bakery in South Wales, with the loss of up to 114 jobs. However, Brace’s Bakery has already stepped forward to try and save the site in Rogerstone.The bakery’s 114 employees were informed of the proposed closure yesterday (Wednesday 22 September), and Warburtons has now entered into a period of consultation with its employees and their representatives, which will last a minimum of 90 days. Warburtons said the decision to consider the future of the bakery has been taken for “operational reasons” and has been reached after much consideration. “A number of options will be discussed, including if necessary opportunities for employment at other Warburtons sites, voluntary redundancy and early retirement,” said the firm.Scott Richardson, sales and marketing director at Welsh bakery Brace’s said the firm has been interested in opening a site within Newport for a number of years, and sees this “as an opportunity to step in and keep the bakery up and running – saving jobs in the process”.“We have already initiated talks with the Baker’s Union and the Welsh Assembly Government to discuss what options are available to us in terms of buying the site. We have also contacted Warburtons directly,” he added.“Developing a bakery in Newport would be key to future expansion and allowing us to continue to improve our offering. We have previously expressed an interest in this very site, which we already know has tremendous potential for us.”Commenting on the interest from Brace’s a spokesperson for Warburtons said the firm wanted to stress it is only proposing to close the site. “Our priority at the moment is caring and supporting our employees during this difficult time.”The Newport bakery produces a range of items including fruited bakery products, and white and wholemeal bread.last_img read more

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Ranson aims at industrial bakers in UK

first_imgBakery and patisserie ingredients supplier Bekaert & Dupont has changed its name to Ranson UK, and is looking to increase its turnover through more business with industrial bakeries.Belgium-based parent firm Ranson has owned the majority of Bekaert & Dupont, based in West Thurrock, for several years, and, in 2008, bought the remaining shares. Following the appointment of general manager Geert Van de Velde, previously with Carrefour, in February 2010, the firm has revamped its website, and is committed to increasing national sales throughout 2011, said business development manager, Chris Foreman.Van de Velde told British Baker the firm is looking to grow the number of bakeries it supplies in the UK, targeting industrial bakeries in particular. It currently supplies a lot of smaller businesses, including coffee shops, as well as the hospitality industry. He said: “At this point everything we’re doing is concentrated on bakery. It’s a big market and there are a lot of opportunities there. We’re looking to increase revenue by 23% this year. Our turnover is now at £8m and we’re aiming to reach around £10m.”Ranson UK imports 70% of its bakery and patisserie range, including marzipan and chocolate decorations, from Ranson.last_img read more

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