Month: April 2021

The call of nature

first_imgHealth has overtaken convenience when it comes to retailers making claims about food. So says a new report citing ‘natural’ inclusions as a key driver in the rush to cash in on diet and well-being trends. Research indicates the so-called ‘functional foods’ market is still “in a state of evolution with product repertoires expanding rapidly as soon as new functional ingredients emerge”. (Mintel, Mar 2006).On one hand ‘natural’ ingredients with antioxidant properties, such as blueberries, as well as oats, nuts and seeds, are driving sales. On the other, added functional ingredients with specific health benefits are shaping NPD in functional foods.Natural focusBut media attention on naturally healthy foods such as whole grains and seeds could ultimately see consumers turning their backs on foods born in the laboratory, the report suggests. “It is possible that growing interest in health may prompt some consumers to bypass manufactured functionality in favour of nature.”Linseeds, known as flaxseeds in the US, are a natural source of ALA omega 3 fatty acid and could be the next big thing, says Mintel. The same goes for hemp, which is high in essential fatty acids, and helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure.Seeded bakery products such as The Food Doctor-branded bagels, which are selling in Tesco, are meeting with great success, says Crispin Clay of Lawncourt Harvest (Leiston, Suffolk). The company supplies a blend of flavoured sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds for the bagel topping, which are cholesterol and gluten free.“The demand for the product is definitely increasing and TV nutritionists are constantly mentioning the health benefits of seeds,” he comments. “This has had a dramatic effect on people’s perceptions – they don’t see it as bird seed any more.”Nuts for nuts“We have seen a huge increase in nuts – almonds, brazils, walnuts and the rest,” says Martin Rome, trading director at Whitworths (Wellingborough, Northants), which counts Northern Foods and RHM among its customers. “We have seen a desire to create premium products with more fruit,” he continues, adding that there is growth in flavoured fruits (such as a cranberry-flavoured raisins), vine fruit blends with added tropical fruits to “sex it up a bit”, and apricots.“A vine fruit or a nut in a cake or bar has all the right connotations, and therefore people are looking to put more of these in their products. It isn’t necessarily going to turn it into a healthy product, but people feel less guilty in buying it.”last_img read more

RHM’s £2m hit on wheat prices

first_imgRHM said its bread division had seen good growth as a result of price increases and customer wins, in a trading update for the last six months issued this week.But a delay in recovering higher wheat price rises cost around £2m in the first half of the year.RHM’s cakes division’s performance continued to improve, it said. And procurement and logistics savings in the first half of the year will be more than £8m.RHM issued the trading statement for the six months to 28 October, ahead of its results, which will be announced on 13 December.RHM also said this week that it will close its Newcastle bread bakery and move production to the south, with 69 job losses expected (see British Baker, 27 October).last_img

Bakery supplier bounces back

first_imgNorth-east bakery supplier Tindale & Stanton says it is back to full strength, expanding its new product development facilities and looking at new lines, two years after a fire destroyed its factory.The fire meant that the company lost 25% of its business overnight. “We had to adapt to survive,” said MD Peter Frankland. “We bought a bakery in Gateshead, which helped us to fulfil our commitments. We’ve been through a tremendous crisis and it has taken enormous team spirit to get us back.”Tindale & Stanton’s range of savoury products – both Tindale & Stanton brand and own-label – are sold mainly to the supermarkets, while a 49-strong fleet of vans supplies savouries, craft bakery breads, bread rolls and confectionery to sandwich shops, take-aways and caterers across the north-east.last_img read more

A day in the life of…

first_img6.30amThe alarm goes off and I head for the kitchen, where I make myself a cup of tea. The first cup of the day is always the best! Before long, I hear my family up and about. My youngest daughter Caron is a real morning person – must take after her old man.7.15amI leave my house in the Lake District and head for the office on the Wirral. I’m no sooner out of the drive than the phone rings – it’s one of my key account managers calling with good news. We’ve recently conducted trials for a key customer on one of our soft roll concentrates. The results have been extremely positive and we’ve won the business. What a result!I turn on the radio for the news headlines, then switch to Radio 2.9.00amI arrive at the office in record time, despite being bumper-to-bumper along the M6. I start reading my e-mails, when our head of product development drops in. He updates me on a new cake mix we’re developing – it’s looking very promising and we agree the next step is to run a trial with a customer. We’re conscious that consumer demands are constantly changing, which is why we continually seek to innovate and update our products.9.30amI listen to my messages – there’s one from the sales director at one of our major wholesalers. I call him back and he tells me one of our competitors is looking to gain market share in a particular area – something we’re keen to prevent. We discuss how best to tackle this and end the call on a happy note – one of the products we’ve been promoting is selling better than ever. Onwards and upwards!10.00amI grab a cup of coffee on the way to meet the marketing team. Top of the agenda are plans for the launch of our new range of healthier bread ingredients. The range consists of concentrates and dough conditioners that respond to the healthy eating trend, including low-GI, reduced salt, higher fibre and clean label propositions. Research shows us there’s a massive demand for ’bread with bits in’ and this has created a major buzz internally in anticipation of the launch. We’re keen to help bakers remind their customers that bread is good for you and understand the benefits of the healthier options available.Staying with the better-for-you theme, we discuss plans to further promote the Apricot and Raisin Cookie, launched at this year’s IFE trade show, following the success of our Nestlé branded lines, and it’s performing well in terms of both sales and positive feedback. The product appeals to both adults and children as it’s a healthier alternative to traditional sweet treats.11.30pmI start work on a presentation for the next monthly meeting of the European leadership team in Italy. At these meetings we share best practice in terms of product development and new ideas. We’re part of CSM, Europe’s largest bakery supplier, and we like to pool our ideas regularly.12.30pmTime for lunch and I head to the staff canteen, where I bump into my colleagues from other departments. We have a quick chat before I return to my office for an appointment. It’s a hectic day, but I really enjoy being on the go.1.00pmI meet with Julie, one of my key account managers, who is also mentor to the latest trainee joining the company’s graduate training scheme. We plan an induction programme, giving our new recruit a taste of all areas of the business. After two years, he should be ready to join our sales team as a fully fledged account executive.2.30pmI meet with the human resources manager to review applications we’ve received for a vacancy in my team. There are a few promising candidates and we agree to invite them for interview next week.3.45pmI put the finishing touches to another presentation for our national sales conference next week. I’m pleased to see that the figures look healthy – we must be doing something right.4.30pmIt’s time to prepare for a meeting tomorrow with one of our customers in Wales. I’ll be seeing one of my account managers beforehand to review progress.I try to touch base with each member of the team regularly for a one-to-one, to stay informed of their progress. I’m delighted to lead such a closely knit team.5.30pmI leave the office and head home. This is one of the best parts of the day, as I can really relax and gather my thoughts. As I approach the Lake District, I take in a gorgeous view of the fells – perhaps I’ll get my walking boots on and head out there this weekend…7.30pmI arrive home and my wife Jacqueline has prepared dinner. We catch up on the events of the day.My evenings are spent with my family. Tonight, my daughter, Nadia, shows me some of her homework. I don’t remember it being so difficult when I was at school, but then that was some time ago. nlast_img read more

Celebration Cake Maker of the Year

first_imgThe Celebration Cake Maker of the Year category is open to everyone, ranging from small cake-making specialists right up to celebration cake suppliers to supermarkets.All you need to do to enter this award is be able to demonstrate your individual skills in this field. What sets you apart from the competition? Tell us, in your entry, why you and your cakes are truly worth celebrating.”As a company with significant heritage and a passion for innovation, it’s always exciting for us to see new and established talent excelling in the industry,” says Nicola Hemming, category judge and applications technologist from Renshaw.”Innovation and excellence are two of our core values and it’s always pleasing to see entrants who share those values. The entries for this particular category are always the most eagerly anticipated and we are always amazed by the fantastic creations and the outstanding skills on display.”Tony Sharpe, MD of Renshaw, who has recently joined the industry, comments: “This is my first year of being involved with the Baking Industry Awards and I feel this is an excellent opportunity for companies to showcase their individual talents. We are extremely proud to sponsor such a vibrant and creative category.”He adds: “It’s a unique opportunity for employers to celebrate the achievements of their colleagues and the rewards for the winner are substantial – both in terms of industry recognition and the prize itself.”Renshaw has been supplying the UK baking industry for over a century, producing marzipan products, and launched its first sugarpaste in the 1950s. Its full product portfolio now includes ready-to-roll icing, caramel, cooking chocolate and jams. Renshaw supplies the manufacturing, wholesale, retail, foodservice and sugarcraft markets.last_img read more

Premier negotiates a breathing space

first_imgThe market reacted positively to Premier Foods’ announcement on 4 March of its financial results for 2007. Investors and analysts breathed a collective sigh of relief when the doomsayers’ predictions of a rights issue, possible sell-offs and breached banking covenants were not realised.The overall feeling of investors, analysts and industry watchers was that Premier had stilled the worst fears, done a reasonable job of turning things around in a very difficult trading environment and, while not coming up smelling entirely of roses, was not the basket case that some had predicted.And while nobody is pretending that Premier is out of the woods yet ? much will depend on the price of wheat this year ? the company was thought to have made an honest breast of things with regard to last year’s difficulties and was talking realistically about its hopes and plans for 2008.Yes, there are still huge debts: the company’s market capitalisation of £830m is dwarfed by net debt of £1.62bn, plus a pension deficit of £123m. But the company has negotiated more financial headroom with its bankers, which will enable it to continue its programme of investment and the integration of RHM and Campbell’s, the companies it bought.The dividend was halved in a move regarded as prudent, because it would save Premier £50-60m. Even shareholders appeared to approve of the decision, preferring to take a longer-term view. In fact the main shareholders have been very supportive of the company and have bought more shares when the price was low, said a company spokeswoman.== Underlying performance ==Now the worst fears have not been realised, investors are looking at the underlying trading performance.Martin Deboo, an analyst at Investec, said: “The market has re-focused itself on trading and is finding the news mixed.” By contrast, a company spokes-woman claimed: “The underlying performance of the business is pretty good.”It rather depends which bits of the business you are looking at. Premier is home to at least 45 major brands. Fray Bentos, Oxo and Bachelor’s, all acquired with the purchase of Campbell’s, are doing well, as is Sharwood’s, part of RHM Foodservice.The picture is less rosy when looking at the bread bakeries side of the business, which has been kept as a separate entity due to the huge fixed costs associated with bread factories. It has its own management.Robert Schofield, Premier Foods chief executive, remains bullish about Hovis and clearly regards it as a brand with great potential, despite the loss of Hovis white bread market share. The recipe has been changed and it will re-emerge on to the shelves healthier than before and backed by a new advertising campaign, even though Premier has announced a halt to promotional activity in the first part of this year. Hovis is also looking at making a 400g loaf.Seeds Sensation, a seeded loaf, was launched under the Hovis brand and is expected to have annual sales of £20m. Premier is investing £6m in new processing equipment and also reducing the cost base.But the message is that there is no quick fix. It may take 12-18 months to turn the bread-making business around, said a company spokeswoman. “It will take longer than the first or second quarter,” she said.== Scaling back ==Premier has closed depots in Plymouth and Telford – not selling them, decommissioning them or flattening them, but taking them temporarily out of production as a cost-saving measure until such time as demand picks up and they may be dusted off and returned to a productive existence. Much will depend on the market, on wheat prices and on the success of the marketing campaigns.The day after the 2007 figures were released, Premier’s shares had risen 5%, and have held up since. Investec’s Martin Deboo described the mood in the City as “moderately positive”. An occasionally stern critic of Premier, Deboo was in a mood to give credit where credit was due: “They have bought themselves some breathing space on their balance sheet, through cutting dividends and increasing their borrowing headroom. They have recovered 80% of their losses from higher commodity prices. We ought to applaud them for it! It’s like standing on a beach watching a large wave approach and trying to surf over it.”== The translatlantic battle for wheat ==How Premier fares in the battle with Warburtons and Kingsmill may have as much to do with wheat prices on opposite sides of the Atlantic as it does with new Hovis initiatives and the companies’ respective advertising and marketing campaigns.Premier’s wheat is mainly UK-grown, Warburton’s is Canadian. After record highs on the commodity markets, on 5 March, Minneapolis wheat was down 30%, Chicago wheat was down 16% and the European market was down just 3% (it doesn’t follow North American trends and had consequently risen less and dropped back less than the excitable American exchanges).A further price rise for bread is inevitable, says Schofield. But the supermarkets will be doing their best to resist that and will be expecting their suppliers to take the pain.A standard loaf of Hovis has risen over 16% to £1.15 from 99p a year ago. What price will it reach a year from now? And will Schofield still be excited about the brand? nlast_img read more

Planning ahead

first_imgSubtitled ’Whole Grain Products: the Holy Grail for Health Conscious Consumers?’, this conference at Newcastle University aims to explore the use of wholegrains and their role in nutrition, health and food manufacturing. The aim is to contribute to current debates by policy-makers, such as EFSA and the FDA in the US, on ways to promote wholegrain use, legislate on associated health claims and establish workable definitions of whole grain and wholegrain foods.An interactive programme with leading experts from the industry will consist of an open discussion forum to help define whole grain, in collaboration with the AACC International Whole Grains Task Force, together with the ICC and the EU Integrated Project Healthgrain networks; and a half-day symposium, organised by the Grainity project, a consortium of researchers from the Nordic countries, focusing on rye. The open plenary session will review progress made since the last summit in 2005 and will be followed by four challenging presentations on the lead topics of the conference: nutrition, technology, consumer perception and EU vs US regulatory and labelling issues. These themes will be continued in four, half-day parallel sessions, with invited speakers and the latest research, followed by a summing-up in a closing plenary session. read more

Tiramisu titan

first_imgWhat is it with the glut of cakey world record attempts right now? Is it some kind of ironic comment on the Western obesity epidemic, or a reaction to greater government interference in the sweet treats we eat? The latest giant pudding, a Tiramisu, has officially been given the ’world’s biggest’ mantle by Guinness World Records (or so the BBC claims it wasn’t on the Guinness website). The dessert, made at a food fair in Lyon, weighed 1,076kg, used 4,000 eggs, 300kg of mascarpone, 180kg of biscuits blah blah blah. Whatever happened to the phrase, less is more?last_img

Maher responds to Mary Queen of Shops portrayal

first_imgIt has to be one of the most talked-about television shows on a bakery in history. The first episode of the new series of Mary Queen of Shops, screened on 7 June, saw retail guru Mary Portas come head-to-head with Maher & Sons bakery owner Angela Maher in a battle of wills. This culminated in Portas and her crew being asked to stop filming and leave the premises.The programme portrayed Maher as someone stuck in her ways and not willing to change, despite falling sales at her Raynes Park business. However, Maher has claimed the way the show was edited made all her comments look negative and that Portas refused to speak to her off camera. Speaking exclusively to British Baker, Maher said: “In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t been so defensive, but there was no attempt to build up a relationship and no positive comments.”Following the show, many viewers were left asking the question why did she apply to take part? Maher claimed she was approached by the production company and was “given the impression that this programme was to be a celebration of small businesses bucking the trend in the recession, while offering some advice and ideas for the future”.”There was really no mention of failing businesses or total reinvention,” she said. “I think that I was naïve in the extreme with regards to the programme, having never really watched much ’reality TV’ or Portas shows in particular.”As for the speciality breads that Portas encouraged her baker, Paul, to produce, Maher said that, since taking part in the show, she has added a number of lines, including Mediterranean, Oat and Pumpkin, as well as a cottage loaf. However, the bakery was already producing a range of speciality breads prior to the programme, she explained, including Spelt and Honey, Rye and Caraway Seed, Multigrain, Soda and Scoffa. “Unfortunately these were not featured in the show,” she said.Despite various internet campaigns to ’Save Paul the Baker’, Maher said that he continues to work at the bakery and his efforts were much appreciated.l For the full interview see read more

Say it with cake

first_imgLooking ahead to spring, although Easter will be flagged up as the main event in the bakery calendar, it’s important not to overlook another potential sales opportunity Mother’s Day. Falling on Sunday 3 April this year, Mother’s Day is traditionally a gift occasion and a time when your products may not sell on taste alone. Thought needs to be given to the presentation and packaging of your goods for example, the addition of a gift box could turn a selection of your brownies into a present rather than an afternoon snack. Inviting window displays are also key to reminding consumers they needn’t say it with flowers, or chocolates, but with biscuits and cakes instead.Mike Holling, retail and sales manager of craft chain Birds of Derby, says developing Mother’s Day products for your customers is a great way for craft bakers to bring in incremental sales to their business. “Last year we achieved sales in excess of £8,000; our target in 2011 will be to increase this by 15-20%,” he says. “We simply adapt some of our regular products, such as biscuits and novelty lines, adding inscriptions in order to generate sales. Strawberry and lemon cupcakes were a particular success last year.”Established in 2007, Biscuiteers is an example of a bakery and gift business at its best. Its strapline ’Why send flowers when you can send biscuits instead?’ says it all. Founder Harriet Hastings says people are prepared to pay for beautifully made premium products, especially when buying them as a gift. She says Mother’s Day is a very big occasion in Biscuiteers’ trading calendar, second only to Christmas. It sells its handmade iced biscuits, including the likes of ’I love you mum’ biscuit cards, in gift tins.”Biscuits are wonderful because they are so adaptable and have limitless design possibilities,” says Hastings. “We do launch new Mother’s Day collections every year, but we also sell a lot of the Flower Power, Cooks Tins and Cupcakes tins. We also offer personalised biscuit card teapots, which we can ice with customers’ messages. Those are popular.”With adequate packaging essential for sending biscuits through the post, Hastings says its packaging has been designed to “withstand the rigours of Royal Mail”, with its biscuits delivered in tins in custom-made outer packaging.The trend for elaborately iced biscuits appears to be gathering steam, with Juliet Stallwood, of Juliet Stallwood Cakes and Biscuits, experiencing a busy Mother’s Day last year, the first in her businesses’s trading calendar. The small family-run business, based in Semley near Shaftesbury in Dorset, offered three cupcake designs for Mother’s Day, along with handmade biscuits, and Stallwood says the business has since expanded really quickly, with enquiries from her website flooding in.Flower powerIf consumers want to say it with flowers, they can always do it with a cupcake bouquet. Victoria Forward, owner of Portsmouth-based Let Them Eat Cake discovered that her cupcake bouquets were an instant hit for Mother’s Day last year, making it ones of her busiest trade weekends to date, and will be offering them again this year. Forward also runs cake decorating workshops and plans to host a special one the Saturday before Mother’s Day in order to teach people how to make the cupcake bouquets for their own mums.She came across the idea of the bouquets after a spot of internet research, which showed they were gaining popularity in the US and, in just two weeks, she trialled the designs and marketed them, using her Facebook page, word-of-mouth and, interestingly, through free community ad site Gumtree. “The cupcake bouquets are something a bit different to giving flowers and chocolates,” she says. She offers a range of different styles: buttercream rose swirls, which were the most popular; hand-piped roses; chrysanthemums; and gerbera daisies, and says she plans to branch out and offer a more premium service this year with messages in icing and gift cards as options.last_img read more