THE NA has saved craft bakers at least £45million over the last year, said chairman Noel Grout. It has saved the craft industry an estimated £10m a year and £10m in set up costs by gaining a concession from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on EU Animal By Products Regulations. Originally this stated that all waste from shops containing raw or cooked meat or fish, such as leftover sandwiches and meat pies, would have to be incinerated or rendered. But the EU has agreed that such waste can continue to be put in landfills and that manufacturing waste containing raw meat or fish can be baked off and also sent to landfill.The NA also believes it saved members £15m through the Craft Bakery Climate Change Levy scheme. Under this scheme members with large carbon surpluses cancel out those who do not, avoiding a sector tax on energy use. The NA is also celebrating a concession from the Food Standards Agency (FSA). It had proposed to remove five of the eight criteria that local authorities should consider before bringing a prosecution. It has now agreed to keep all eight and also make it mandatory to consider them.The FSA has also relented on guidance on flour confectionery wrapped in wholly transparent film. This is currently exempt from labelling legislation, except for allergens. Following lobbying, the FSA has abandoned plans to abolish the exemption.
The UK egg industry will tighten up on traceability, salmonella risk and quality of egg supply this month, after beefing up its code of practice. The controls will also address high-profile incidences of non-free-range eggs being passed off as free-range.The British Egg Products Association’s (BEPA) Lion Code of Practice Scheme will feature robust auditing, increased salmonella testing as well as stronger measures to avoid cross-contamination in the feed chain.The measures will only apply to UK-harvested eggs and the new measures extend further than European regulations, said Clive Frampton, chairman of BEPA: “The provenance of eggs is critical and this is a very strong quality assurance scheme to make sure that these things don’t hit.”Over 80% of respondents in a survey of 1,000 people commissioned by BEPA said they would not buy a product if they knew it did not contain British eggs. At present around one-third of eggs used in the UK are imported, equating to 1,000 tons a week; around half of those are used in bakery and related products.
Water, water everywhere and not a drop to make a dough. That is unless you’re nine-shop Janes Pantry in Gloucester, which has been ferrying clean water to the bakery by car, just to keep production going amidst chaotic scenes of flooding. Running water was not expected to be back on for another week at the time of going to press, following the near-Biblical-scale down-pours that devastated Gloucestershire, with a month’s rain in just one hour.The impact of the flooding – the worst for 250 years, even eclipsing the Great Flood of 1947 – has been grave for bakery businesses, both in a figurative and watery sense. A further kick in the spreadsheets will have come from having to use bags of flour in the absence of sandbags (pg 6), made all the more galling by the soaring prices for flour. Meanwhile, in-store bakery managers presided over empty aisles, as understandably anxious residents hit the shops to stockpile staples.Gordon Brown and Secretary of State for the Environment Hilary Benn announced an independent inquiry into the flood events of June – which hit Yorkshire badly – and July. Not that turning back the clock on climate change, to which many attribute the erratic weather, will be a doddle. Forget bakery van sales; the future lies in bakery hovercraft!However, it’s not our intention here to make light of the events, which will be putting a horrible burden on businesses. Our thoughts go out to them. At least one saving grace of this horrendous summer is that, for possibly the first time ever, we find ourselves looking forward to the autumn.Similarly looking for a brighter dawn is Inter Link, which has been snapped up by McCambridge in the latest round of its acquisition sprees, safeguarding most, if not all, of the staff (pg 4). We hope that issues raised over suppliers’ debts will be amicably resolved.Finally, we’re delighted to reveal the shortlisted entrants for the first six categories of the Baking Industry Awards. Congratulations to those of you that made it through to the final cut. Some great entries from outstanding com-panies failed to do so, and we would urge those companies to try again next year. Catch next week’s BB for the final six categories. Best of luck!
Canadian-owned Maple Leaf Foods has announced fourth-quarter results for 2007, which revealed an 11% increase in Bakery Product Group sales to $393m (£200m) up from $355m (£180m) in the last quarter of 2006.The group does not separate out the earnings of its UK divisions. In the past two years Maple Leaf has acquired five UK businesses: the Harvestime bakery in Walsall in 2006, Avance (UK) and the French Croissant Company in December 2006, La Fornaia in August 2007 and the Bernard Matthews bakery in Dunstable in November 2007.Adjusted operating earnings for the year rose 16% to $116.7m. Maple Leaf’s report said: “In the UK, the benefits of price increases were not sufficient to offset the impact of higher input costs and investments in promotion and advertising. However, these headwinds were offset by the positive contribution of acquisitions and organic growth in bagel and other speciality bakery categories.”The company expects to see continued growth in the speciality and bagel markets.Marketing and innovation director Guy Hall said the firm will launch new products in its New York Bagel range this year.Hall added: “The general sentiment would be that we’ve had stable economic conditions for 10 years but in the last 12-18 months it has been turned on its head. What the future holds we cannot say. We’re into choppy and uncertain waters. If we’ve got one overriding concern it’s the cost of price increases coming into the business.”Maple Leaf has negotiated price rises with its customers, including the major retailers, he added.
Fresh apricots are available now, and as they need a warm climate to thrive, most of the apricots on sale in Britain during the summer come from European countries revelling in hot climates. They are cultivated in many areas worldwide from Asia to Australia, North Africa to the USA. Many of these are sold dried.Apricots are related to peaches, nectarines, plums and cherries and can be substituted for them in many recipes. Their colour ranges from a pale yellow to a deep orange and, when they are ripe, the kernel falls out easily when the fruit is cut in half. The flesh is fragrant and the skin is velvety soft.Dried apricots are used widely in baking, but fresh apricots lend themselves to baking as well. To check if they are ripe, feel the flesh, which should be moderately firm and free of blemishes or wrinkles.Use them in crumbles and tarts; they are very good as a substitute to pears in a Bordaloue tart or used instead of apples in a tarte Normande. Both of these traditonal dishes can be served with vanilla ice cream to bring out the taste of the fruit.Apricots will also work well in pastries and, mixed with cream, as a filling in choux buns. They don’t give off a lot of juice when they are cooked, so small amounts can be added to muffin mixtures, cakes and tray bakes.In Season: June-SeptemberBy Fiona Burrell, co-author of Leith’s Baking Bible, from the world-famous Leiths School of Food and Wine
Esquires Coffee Houses UK has announced plans to open another eight franchised stores in the UK, by summer 2009. The company, now in its tenth year of trading, currently has 25 outlets in the UK.Peter Kirton, managing director of Esquires Coffee Houses UK, said he had identified a number of locations that he believed would fit with Esquires offering. “We’ve had an overwhelming level of interest in the Esquires Coffee Houses franchise operation over the past year,” said Kirton. “Though we are not able to disclose exact locations at this point, I am pleased to say that the new stores will be well spread across the country.”The chain’s Canadian parent company has also just announced agreements to open a combined total of 585 across China, India, the Middle East and Egypt, as part of the firm’s plans to further expand its international franchises.
People off work through mental ill-health costs business millions every year, but this is the tip of the iceberg compared to the higher costs involved when people at work perform below par through a mental ill-health condition. My eyes were opened to this ’last taboo’ subject recently when I was encouraged (in one of my voluntary work roles) to do a ’mental health first aid’ course. No sooner had I finished it than TV’s Secret Millionaire featured a Barnsley millionaire confessing to having had a ’secret’ mental breakdown a few years ago. I had no idea just how much this subject affects the workplace; I just thought stress and depression were the new ’bad back’ lame excuse on a sick note. How wrong I was!In fact, nearly all of the UK population suffer some sort of mental ill-health at some time in their lives. The condition is not usually severe, but, like any illness, a mild condition may worsen if not treated. “Pull yourself together!” is rather useless in helping someone to recover from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.Wouldn’t it be good if the baking industry were open about mental ill-health and doing something positive to tackle it? Most people are prejudiced in their thoughts on the subject. If your friend said they had just joined a “physical health club” you might be impressed, but if the same friend said that they had just joined a “mental health club”, would you be as impressed?If a colleague reports that they are depressed, do you know the best way to help them make a recovery and how best for them to avoid recurrence? Do you know the difference between stress, depression, addiction, phobias, neurosis, psychosis, bipolar, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder or panic attack? Do you know the long-term effects of caffeine, lack of sleep, alcohol or drugs? If your grandmother or teenage son were preparing to commit suicide, would you spot the early warning signs? Do you know how to take care of your own physical and mental health? I do – I’ve done the course.Even though mental illness may not be caused by work, it does affect people’s ability to work at their best, so it is something we should address. But we are bakers, not therapists. Like an ordinary first aider, our job is to recognise when there is a problem, provide initial help as trained mental health first aiders and move the person to appropriate professional help if necessary. Mrs Foster remarked that, in an economic downturn, business owners and senior managers are more likely to suffer personal mental ill-health. How is your mental health, reader?Don’t panic! Most ordinary first aid at our bakery involves little more than a sticking plaster but, left untreated, it leaves a bloody mess all over the bakery and spoils the buns. It’s something similar for most mental health first aid too: early treatment – usually simple – avoids a messier situation.To find out about a course in your area see www.mentalhealthfirstaid.csip.org.uk
Greencore resultsGreencore has announced a 0.4% increase in operating profit, to 46.4m, for its Convenience Foods division for the 52 weeks ending 25 September 2009. The division includes its food-to-go, cakes and desserts, and foodservice desserts businesses. The firm said that while consumers are still willing to spend in indulgent categories, within cakes and desserts they are doing so with less frequency than before.Costa advert strifeCosta Coffee could be in trouble over its advertising campaign which stated that “7 out of 10 coffee lovers prefer Costa”, after Starbucks complained. A spokesperson from the Advertising Standards Authority confirmed that “we are investigating the complaint”, but said she could not give any further details until the investigation concluded.Website revampGluten-, wheat- and dairy-free artisan bakery Droppa & Droppa Specialist Foods has launched its website www.droppaanddroppa.com which is designed to be more interactive as well as easy to navigate.Shell stocks WaitroseWaitrose products are currently being trialled at three Shell service stations in the Birmingham area as the retailer bids to grow in the food-to-go and convenience sectors. The range includes sandwiches, wraps and snacks, as well as grocery items such as bread.Green moves delayedMore than one in five small firms (22%) are delaying embracing environmentally friendly measures because of the recession, according to a survey carried out by the Forum of Private Business. But 17% said they were more likely to introduce measures.
lCake Trends supplementA special report into what’s hot in cakes, with exclusive market data, cutting edge comment and consumer insightslCookies & BiscuitsWith cookies seeing big growth in craft bakeries, in-stores and coffee shops, how can retailers keep consumers keen?lBakers’ ReviewAll the latest industry updates on employment legislation, finance and best practice from the National Association of Master Bakers
Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients (LCI) has launched a new ingredient to help bakers increase the hydration levels of their bread, but without it affecting the dough’s processing abilities.”Hydra 0.2% is our new product that brings a unique combination of functional ingredients, giving an economical solution with a dosage of 0.2% and is used in addition to your standard dough conditioner. It is an invisible, clean-label solution with a ’wheat flour’ label,” explains marketing manager for bakery Anne Lionnet. The firm, part of the Limagrain Group, claims bakers can save money, and improve quality with the use of Hydra 0.2%. “It allows a gain of 4% hydration from a clean-label ingredient,” she adds.Based on a traditional recipe for a French stick, using 100kg flour, 1.8kg salt, 2.5kg of yeast, and 0.5kg of dough conditioner, but increasing the water content by to 64kg, and adding 0.2kg of Hydra 0.2%, the firm said a baker could achieve an overall cost saving of 1%.LCI has also just launched Westhove LV Rice a gluten-free flour with a low viscosity. It is naturally rich in complex carbohydrates and low in fat, said the firm, and is suitable for use in products such as fruit preparations, dairy products or purées.