A EUROPEAN Commission committee has voted to allow bread and other staples to be excluded from the EU Nominal Quantities Directive.The EU Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee voted in favour of amending the draft directive on December 12. This directive currently states there should be no set weights for products. The move is hailed as a “vital and important first step” towards allowing the UK to retain its system of selling bread in prescribed quantities by the Federation of Bakers (FoB). It wants bread to be exempt from the Directive, to prevent consumers being confused over the comparative prices of loaves. Currently bread above 300g in weight has to be sold in set weights – 400g, 800g and 1,200g. But new bread weights, such as 500g, 600g or 1,000g, could also be added in the UK.FoB director Gordon Polson commented: “The vote in favour of exemptions for staple products was a vital and important first step. There is support across Europe for exemptions for products, including butter, milk and pasta.”The issue will now go forward to the European Parliament for debate, with a vote expected to take place in January or February. The issue is then likely to be decided in a conciliation process between the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council of Ministers. It could take a year to 18 months to resolve. Mr Polson said: “It is difficult to predict how long it will take to resolve. The problem is the European Council is against exemptions.”NA chief executive David Smith said if weights were deregulated, bakers would still have to declare each loaf’s weight to conform with labelling regulations. That would complicate procedures. “There are people in our sector who say we can cope with total deregulation, but I think we are better keeping the status quo,” he said.
Northern Irish bakery supplier Evron Foods is to open a manufacturing plant in Pontypool, South Wales next month to extend its reach in the UK.Evron, which supplies Subway stores in the UK, Ireland and Scandanavia built the factory “largely to bring us closer to the UK market”, said marketing director Dominic Downey. The plant, which will be Evron’s second, has been built from scratch over the last 14 months, with the help of a Welsh Development Agency grant. It will initially employ around 50 people.The facility will extend the firm’s reach in the south of the UK and will bring it closer to European markets, Mr Downey said. “We are much stronger in frozen than we are with chilled in the UK,” he added. “It is more difficult to service the chilled market from our Northern Ire-land base because of distribution and shelf-life issues. The Pontypool site solves that.”The plant will make a limited product range, focusing on volume lines and automation. Evron will use it to develop its own customer base, as well as service existing accounts.The 23-year old Evron Foods has a £12 million turnover and specialises in frozen and chilled bakery products, par-baked breads, added-value and flavoured breads. Its main brands are Easibake and La Baguette and it currently supplies the UK, retail, foodservice and wholesale sectors from its Portadown hub.
Baking industry giants are to share their professional experience with delegates at the British Society of Baking’s Golden Jubilee Spring Conference, at Food & Bake 2006 on March 20-21. On the Monday, Sir Michael Darrington, MD of Greggs, will speak at the Conference, as well as Tony Reed, category director for bakery of Tesco, and Brian Robinson, chief executive of Allied Bakeries. Sir Michael Darrington has been at the helm of Greggs for 23 years, during which time the Newcastle-based bakery firm has become the third biggest seller of sandwiches in the country with sales of bread and rolls reduced to just 9% of annual turnover. Sir Michael will give an insight into how Greggs continues to be successful through its people.As category director for bakery of Tesco, Tony Reed controls bakery in 1,800 stores in the UK. He first joined Tesco 28 years ago on his 15th birthday as a trolley boy and worked his way up to become a director. Brian Robinson, new chief executive of Allied Bakeries, will compare the progress of the Australian baking industry with that of the UK. These speakers will be joined by Professor Christiani Jeya Henry, head of food science and human nutrition at Oxford Brookes University, and Royal Society visiting professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. A board member of the UK Food Standards Agency, Professor Henry will be sharing his thoughts on the glycaemic index and the opportunities and challenges for the food industry.Tuesday’s line-upOn the Tuesday of the conference, speakers include craft baker Chris Freeman, organiser of National Doughnut Week; Trevor Mooney, joint MD of Chatwins in Nantwich; John Slattery of Slattery’s in Manchester; Alan Stuart from Dubbie Bakery, Fife; and John Waterfield of Waterfields. Overseeing the proceedings will be Paul Heygate, MD of the Heygate Group and chairman of the Flour Advisory Bureau, and Paul Morrow, MD of British Bakels.A Gala Evening Dinner will be held on Monday March 20 in the Gallery Suite – a chance to network and enjoy the company of colleagues. Entertainment will be provided by the popular author Gervase Phinn. Tickets include a five-course dinner and wine and cost £60 per person and for non-members £79 per day. For more information and to book tickets, visit www.foodandbake.co.uk or call the BSB on 0161 427 1772.
Three German/Austrian bakery companies are expected to be combined to form the third-largest company in the markets, run by the well-known German baker and entrepreneur Heiner Kamps (pictured).The three German/Austrian bakers, Mueller, Anker and Lowenbrot, are expected to be bought by a specially-formed company, IFR Capital.IFR is scheduled to be floated on the Alternative Investment stock market in the UK to raise E125m, with E100m to be used to buy the three bakers. The acquisitions are dependent on the flotation being successful.The move would see Kamps, known as Germany’s Richard Branson, return to the bakery sector four years after his Kamps chain was sold to Barilla for E1.8bn, including liabilities of E800m.In 1998 when the Kamps business was floated it claimed to be Europe’s largest baker with 2,000 shops and revenue of E1.7bn.IFR is owned jointly by ACP Capital, a Jersey-based investment and fund manager listed on AIM, and by Kamps.IFR also plans to buy, after the float, Kamps Food Retail Investments (KFRI), in which ACP and Kamps have “a significant shareholding”. KFRI owns Nordsee, which is claimed to be the largest fish retail chain in Europe with a turnover of more than E345m.Commenting on the proposed acquisitions Heiner Kamps said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to be back in the bakery business. We plan to make further acquisitions in the bakery and other food retailing sectors in continental Europe in order to consolidate food retailing.”
Cinnamon Square is a unique patisserie, bakery and coffee shop based in Rickmansworth, Herts.We have built a reputation for producing breads to the highest of standards by using a blend of traditional and modern methods.We are looking for an experienced baker who can hand-mould breads and has a good understanding of craft bakery processes.Apply in writing or email as detailed below.For further information call 01923 7783539 Church Street, Rickmansworth, Herts, WD3 1BXTel: 01923 778353Email: **[[email protected]]**
Health may appear to be the driving force in bakery lately, but the main thing bakers are after when it comes to fats and oils is performance. After all, there is little point in producing pastry with an incredibly low fat content if it’s going to taste like cardboard.The challenge for manufacturers of fats and oils is to reduce the fat content, while maintaining all the same qualities as before. ADM, one of the largest oil-producing companies in the UK, makes up around a third of the total market. Technical director Rob Winwood explains that the world of fats and oils for use in bakery products has changed significantly in recent years, partly due to pressure from consumers for healthier products, as well as an increased demand by supermarkets for them. Issues such as allergies and GM concerns also pose restrictions. “If we look back 10 years, we would probably only see around 4-5% of our products still being produced today,” he says.Legislation has also had some effect on the sector. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has set stricter targets on the levels of fat in products. Broadly speaking, the aims of the FSA, as laid out in its Saturated Fat and Energy Intake Programme, are to reduce the average intake of saturated fat from the current level of 13.3% of food energy to below 11% by 2010 for everyone aged over five. But as Winwood points out, fat cannot suddenly be cut down; it is key to the way products perform.ADM stopped using hydrogenated fat around two years ago and has developed its NovaLipid range of solutions, which includes lower saturated fat and additive-free options. Winwood says the switch to non-hydrogenated fat has been a major change and not without its problems. In most cases, it has been possible to achieve an exact match, he says, but it has not been an easy process and there are still areas where it is almost impossible. “For example, if you want to make a chocolate couverture product, these were traditionally based on hardened palm kernel oil, which is a very strong, tough material and has particularly nice melt-in-the-mouth characteristics,” says Winwood. “The problem is, there is no really good alternative. You can get something that works, but it doesn’t quite do the same thing.”The main criteria for fats and oils are that they perform, agrees David Astles, marketing manager for artisan, BakeMark. He says the drive towards healthier products has been a mixture of baker, consumer and industry demand. “However, the majority of bakers are not as concerned by these issues until they are driven by the consumer, either directly or via the supermarkets, which are now specifying reduced fat and salt levels.”Stephen Bickmore, Vandemoortele’s UK commercial manager, believes that products with lower-fat content and healthier benefits are not really being driven by the craft bakery sector, which lags behind the plant sector. “It’s mainly the industrial bakeries that are asking for these products, because if they’re supplying places like Marks & Spencer, that’s what they’re looking for,” he says.Ingredients manufacturer, Vandemoortele, has long since ditched hydrogenated fats, and now offers a range of reduced-fat and clean-label products. It has also switched from using citric acid to natural alternatives such as lemon juice. “We have a range where we’ve reduced the level of fat in the margarine from 80% down to, potentially, 60%, without losing the quality of the product,” says Bickmore.One of the obstacles to growing the market for lower-fat products, he says, has been the economic climate, resulting in bakers trying to cut costs. Achieving high-quality products with an excellent mouthfeel but with reduced-fat content is possible by adding certain ingredients – fat replacers – but Bickmore explains that the additional cost can put bakers off. “Sometimes there is a cost attached to that kind of quality,” he says, adding that, at the moment, companies are focused on keeping costs down and often don’t have the time or resources to test out all the products available to them.Changing industry standards and consumer tastes will continue to drive NPD in this sector. For example, this November, BakeMark will be launching Melanges, a mixture between margarine and butter, which contains all-natural ingredients. And Vandemoortele is working towards achieving less than 50% fat in its products.”It will also be incumbent on us to advise our customers on how they can revise their formulation, to achieve these lower fat levels,” says ADM’s Winwood, who believes the combination of new products and the education of bakers on how to use them is the key to meeting lower fat targets.There is no denying that consumers and the baking industry alike will continue to demand products with healthier credentials, but maintaining quality will also continue to be high on the agenda.—-=== Palm oil – sustainability issues ===Around 28m of the 95m tonnes of vegetable oil produced per year is palm oil, which can only be produced in certain tropical areas in Asia, Africa and South America. It is an edible plant oil derived from the fruit of the Arecaceae Elaeis oil palm. However, the destruction of rainforests for its production is reported to be having disastrous effects on the eco-system and, on a larger scale, is said to be affecting global warming. ADM has joined a number of other large oil producers in an organisation called the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which is to work towards ensuring sustainable palm oil production for the future. For more information please visit [http://www.rspo.org].
Leicestershire bakery chain Coombs Hampshires has been bought out of administration for an undisclosed sum, saving up to 150 jobs. The business and assets have been purchased by Adam Baxter, who had been running the bakery with his father, Keith, prior to its collapse. However, six of its 26 stores are set to close in a “rationalisation” process, resulting in the loss of around 20 jobs. The company was formed when Hampshires Bakery bought Coombs Quality Bakers out of administration in 2006 and was 32nd in British Baker’s Top 50 bakery retailers table in January 2009.To read the full story, make sure you check out the latest issue of British Baker out 17 July.
A while ago I wrote about how you could save your business money by doing the simplest of things, such as putting a note in your diary for the renewal dates on your insurance, electricity and gas contracts, telephone lines and broadband providers. With it being the consumer’s market out there, one can save thousands of pounds over a single year! Yes, that’s right! My businesses have and so can yours. All you have to do is shop around when it comes to renewing your contracts.With the exception of your insurance policy, you can pretty much chop and change suppliers every year to save money. The reason why you should stick with one insurer is that, generally, the insurance companies do not like someone who is changing all the time they think you are up to something.But right now I’m going to talk about leasing. This is something that, while tax-efficient, can cost a business thousands of pounds if overlooked. Recently, I visited a friend and saw some of his equipment really struggling to work. Out of curiosity, I asked him how old it was and how much he paid for it. “Oh, I pay £439.80 a month,” he said. “So it’s leased?” I asked. “Yes, I think so! I’ve always paid this.”On digging deeper, we discovered he initially got the equipment leased among other things and the term ran out a year ago, but since he didn’t realise that it did, the leasing company simply kept charging him for it. Now, there are two points here: when you lease a property, the landlord will not necessarily have to come to you and say, “Your lease has expired!” He is getting his rent, so he will continue to receive his rent. The only thing is, had you contacted him, you could have renegotiated. With commercial leasing, you simply pay a charge for the titles to either be transferred to your name or for indefinite use of the equipment until its life ends. Either way, it saves you from paying the lease on it.So what have we learnt? We have to keep on top of all our outgoings especially the big, but infrequent amounts. We tend to be so busy looking after the daily grind that we often forget to take care of the big stuff, which ultimately costs us an arm and a leg, simply because we didn’t look at the numbers or, in this case, dates.So sit down as soon as you can and list all your suppliers of utilities, leasing, finance or any other expenditure. Next, find out the renewal dates, terms and all the other necessary details and, finally, put a note in your diary, so you can pick up the phone and renegotiate, move away or look at other alternatives.If you have comments and experiences on this issue, email [email protected]
By Mellissa Morgan, aka Ms Cupcake.I went from baking a few cakes at home to owning my own shop within a year. When talking to people about the start of my business they often ask, “How did you achieve success in such a short period of time?” I tell people that my business was built on hard work, long hours and social media. I hear from small business owners all the time who say they like the idea of having a website, Facebook, Twitter and the like, but do not know where to start.The first thing to do before anything else is put up a website. In this day and age you must be online. Excuses like “My customer base isn’t online”, “I’m only a local business”, “I’m too busy already” are irrelevant. If you want your business to be taken seriously, you need an online presence. You do not have to be selling any of your goods online; you just need it to support your business’ identity. It can be as simple as a one-page site that has the logo of your business, pictures of your products, and how people can contact you to buy your goods.You can get domain names (the address of the site) for free or for very minimal cost nowadays. If you don’t have the funds to have a web designer make the site for you, then try out a website package like Mr Site www.mrsite.com or Getting British Business Online www.gbbo.co.uk where you build the website with their step-by-step instructions.Your next step is Facebook. Love it or loathe it 750 million current users are on it and waiting to hear about your business. Again, it is completely free to join and set up a business page. Business pages are different to your own identity on Facebook so you don’t have to worry about your customers seeing your holiday snaps that you loaded onto your own personal page! You even get your own web address like www.facebook.com/mscupcakeuk.Your goal with Facebook is to get as many people as you can to ’like’ your page by clicking on the ’like’ button. Once someone ’likes’ your page, every time you post something on your page a new product or new opening hours it comes up in their personal ’news feed’. I have found it to be the easiest way to communicate with my customers on a mass level, much more effective than email newsletters. You will get the most interaction when you post a picture of something especially food-related!Once you get a handle on Facebook, your next step is Twitter (again free). Twitter is simple. You create your own user name, like @mscupcakeuk, and you have 140 characters to write a message. Think of it like Facebook, but all you get to do is update your status. The goal for Twitter is to have as many ’followers’ as you can get. In turn you get to ’follow’ other people to hear what they have to say.You can write a message directly to someone or you can put out messages for everyone to read. I find Twitter is the best way to follow trends, interact with press, large firms and even celebrities. And if you mention that person’s Twitter name in your posting, they are told about it, regardless of if they follow you or not. Watch and listen on Twitter before you start posting, so you can get a feel for its general etiquette.I can hear some of you right now “What a bother! I don’t have time for this”. But it only takes a few moments each day. I now have over 6,000 people actively online telling other people they like our products. Not bad for a business that started from my home just a year-and-a-half ago.
Cake-maker Peck & Strong has just completed the installation of solar panels to the south elevation of its bakery’s roof.The 50kw Photo Voltaic system, which converts sunlight into electricity, covers a 350sq ft area at its bakery in Crediton, Devon.The company said it sees it as a “great and opportune investment for the future”, and falls in line with its existing environmental principles.Peck & Strong already tries to minimise its carbon footprint, and annually offsets the remainder (100 tons of carbon).>>Peck & Strong makes jump to much larger site