NEWS REVIEW OF THE YEAR

first_imgAUGUSTAtkins Nutritionals filed for protection from bankruptcy in the US, reporting debts of nearly £170m. The news was welcomed by bakers as marking the end of the low-carbohydrate Atkins diet craze. Northern supermarket chain Booths started a review of its speciality breads on offer at its 26 stores, which was set to last 12 months. The company also extended its speciality range to include more unusual products and a new range of sourdough breads. The in-store bakeries carry a range from Bolton-based craft baker Greenhalgh’s.ADM Milling announced plans to raise flour prices £9.38 a tonne from September 12, blaming rising energy costs. Plant bakers Allied Bakeries, Warburtons and British Bakeries also put up prices earlier in the summer, blaming inflationary pressures. Fine Lady Bakeries was fined £150,000 plus costs after the death of an employee at its Banbury bakery in 2002. The employee fell from a 22-inch platform while trying to free a jammed bread cooling machine. He sustained severe head injuries and later died. The Office of Fair Trading caused controversy when it said it had no plans to revamp the Supermarkets Code of Practice, saying there was no evidence it was not working well. A new National Food Survey showed an ongoing decline of volumes of bread purchased since 1974, but wholemeal loaves are becoming increasingly popular. The report, from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said the average UK consumer bought 720g of bread a week in 2003-4, spending £3.70 a week on bread and cereal products. Around £1 of that was on cakes, pastries and biscuits.Cake manufacturer Kate’s Cakes said it planned to nearly double turnover to £32 million with a recently launched branded range and extended national supply network. Bakery chain Sayers began piloting a new format at a new flagship store in Liverpool city centre. The new store’s layout was focused on getting customers in and out as quickly as possible, with more space given to self-serve ranges, it said. The store was Sayers’ 116th. Tesco said it was to roll out standard-sized bread baskets to all 1,000 stores following pilots. The roll out would be done in clusters with all stores, including Tesco Express, due to use them by the end of 2006. The Federation of Bakers appointed Gordon Polson as its director, effective from September. Mr Polson’s recruitment followed a long hunt for a successor to John White. Northern Irish miller Neill’s invested £500,000 in de-branning technology to produce purer whiter flour. The 100-year old Belfast baker said the investment would strengthen its position as one of Northern Ireland’s leading mills.last_img read more

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Commodities tracker

first_img“This year will be the year when demand for healthier eating options will push demand for nuts, dried fruit and seeds to all time high levels,” said RM Curtis’ trading director Mark Setterfield in its new report – Edible Nuts & Dried Fruit, Dec 2006-Jan 2007.He explained: “Although increased demand may also push prices to higher levels, this trend is unlikely to prevent buyers in Western Europe and in the UK from, albeit begrudgingly, paying the increased levels, as their own demand increases.”Walnuts are now a relatively cheap option within the tree nut sector and so any price decline for 2007 seems extremely unlikely, he said. Meanwhile, cashew prices are starting to look attractive against pecans, almonds, hazels, pistachios and macadamias. “It may be a mistake to look at historical demand without considering this emerging rise in interest for natural and healthy eating options,” said Setterfield. The price of hazels should remain firm into 2007, he added.January was typically a quiet time in the sultana calendar, whereas there is an Easter demand for currants. “We would also expect an increase in demand for apricots from within the UK and mainland Europe as they feature more prevalently within food manufacture and snacking mixes,” added Setterfield.RM Curtis is an importer, trader and packer of nuts, dried fruit and other dried products, based in London and Essexlast_img read more

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Baguette Viennoise

first_imgThis dough is an alternative to brioche – although not as rich – and much quicker to make.Offer it to your customers as an alternative to English tea breads. It’s a recipe I teach regularly in my bread classes, and everyone finds it very simple to make. As kids, we used to eat small baguettes made with this dough for breakfast, or at tea-time, which we called ’le quatre-heure’. When we came home from school we would have them halved, with a bar of Poulain chocolate inside – these were the bars that every child ate, with the picture of a pony on the wrapper. You can also bake this in a tin and slice it for croque monsieur. IngredientsMakes 43 x 200g baguettesStrong bread flour: 5kgFull fat milk: 2.5kgYeast: 100gUnsalted butter:600gCaster sugar: 400gFree-range eggs: 20Salt: 90g Method1. Break the yeast into the flour then add the rest of the ingredients to the flour and mix for four minutes on slow, followed by 6 to 7 minutes on fast until the dough is smooth.2. Rest the dough for at least one hour at an ambient temperature and covered.3. Shape into baguettes.4. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the baguettes are a dark golden brown in colour. * Adapted from Dough by Richard Bertinet (Kyle Cathie), with photography by Jean Cazalslast_img read more

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Cinnamon Square at a glance

first_imgEstablished: November 2005Shops: 1, a bakery and the Makery, with an upstairs caféAge of the building: Nearly 500 years. It is part of an early 16th-century houseProducts: Cinnamon square, cakes, patisserie, traditional breads and speciality breads, morning goods and some chocolatesBaking courses: For adults and children, they include ’Introductory Bread Making’ and ’Halloween Baking’The Makery: This is where the ’theatre of baking’ takes place. Customers can watch cakes and pastries being made and talk to the bakers. Children can decorate cookies. Children’s parties and baking courses are held hereExperience: Paul is a master baker with over 20 years’ experience. Tricia’s marketing background includes 10 years as a marketing executive for Wembley Stadiumlast_img

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Potted history

first_imgBruno and Sergio Costa set up their first coffee roastery in Lambeth, London, in 1971, supplying local caterers and Italian coffee shops with coffee, slow roasted the Italian way.In 1978, the brothers opened their first Costa espresso bar in Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, using the same blend of six Arabica beans to one Robusta that they do today. The company now has 650 stores in the UK and operates in 21 other countries around the world.In 2006, the company set up the Costa Foundation to help the communities in the countries from which it sources its coffee beans.last_img

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Mill with a message

first_imgMatt Scott knew he faced a battle to make flour sexy when he bought Bacheldre Watermill seven years ago. After all, producing organic and traditional flours from a 16th century Welsh water-powered mill in Powys was, literally, miles away from his former life as a postman in Gosport.Yet he and his wife, Anne, are delivering a hugely successful business, selling flour to bread-makers around the world. Turnover from the watermill, located on the border with Shropshire, has doubled annually since 2001 and should top £500,000 this year.Fundamental to this success is, of course, the quality of the flour, made using conventional production methods and organically-grown grain. Local wheat is also cultivated on the Bacheldre Farm and used as it would have been hundreds of years ago.The range of 100% wholemeal, malted blend, rye and spelt flour was extended in January, when Scott collaborated with The Organic Smokehouse in Shropshire. Malted wheat flakes are cold-smoked over oak chippings in the smokehouse, then mixed with the mill’s Organic Stoneground Malted Blend Flour. Scott says the process infuses a wood-smoked aroma and taste, reminiscent of bread being baked in a wood-fired oven.An ability to create such exciting imagery around his products is helping Scott punch above his weight against the big millers, whose production systems are highly automated. It is just one part of a considered marketing strategy, which Scott believes is as crucial to any small business as having quality and innovative products.While Bacheldre still supplies craft bakers directly with speciality flours, 85% of its flour is now sold branded to consumers through retail. In its simplest form, marketing is about ensuring your business meets your customers’ needs and wants and making sure they can buy your products or services in the right place at the right time. It is also about shouting loudly about what you do.The Scotts took over Bacheldre Watermill when it was nothing more than a working museum, producing less than two tonnes of flour a month to sell to a local shop and brewery. “We were complete novices, so one of the first things we did was visit a grain merchant to find out what was the best grain in the country. To have a fighting chance, we needed to boast we used the best ingredients,” he says.He also realised it was vital the product looked good on the shelf and he instigated an important packaging change by switching to a traditional white bag with a Celtic print. “We had to show suppliers and bakers the mill had new owners and we were serious about making it work.”== Broader recognition ==With quality ingredients and packaging, Bacheldre Watermill began to get noticed – not just within the world of flour and baking, but within the wider Welsh food industry. In 2003, the mill received a commendation from the Soil Association for its Stoneground Strong 100% wholemeal flour and scooped gold in the Welsh TrueTaste/GwirFlas Awards (organic). It repeated the feat a year later. “Entering awards is crucial to winning new business. It means when you visit retail buyers, they sit up and listen, because you have third-party endorsement,” says Scott.With the award certificates on his office wall, he arranged meetings with influential buyers from the Fresh & Wild organic retail chain and Harrods. He was never going to retire on the orders secured from the top people’s store in Knightsbridge, but the flour’s presence on its shelves raised interest among other retailers. This included top-end supermarket Waitrose, which now stocks the mill’s spelt flour in all its stores and its 100% wholemeal, malted blend and rye flour in more than 30 branches. “We cannot compete on price with the big millers, so with a well thought-out marketing strategy, aimed at the niche organic end of the market, we can price our flour accordingly and retain our margins,” says Scott.The marketing activity included making the most of the public relations opportunity presented by the deal with Harrods. It was a great story that a tiny mill in Wales was supplying the big stores in London. Whatever your product – and let’s face it, flour is not the sexiest – you must work out your point of difference and shout it from the rooftops,” he says. “If you don’t have a PR company, look at the magazines you want to be in and email the journalists directly.”At the same time as talking to the press, Scott was busy finding new distributors by attending trade shows in the UK and Europe.== Keeping the look fresh ==As publicity and sales increased, Scott was determined not to rest on his laurels and he decided to repackage his flour again. He had ideas in his mind about what would work, such as children running through fields of corn, but he decided to ask the experts. He spent months talking to buyers about what would have an impact on their shelves. The original idea was considered too American and stockists suggested using images of the watermill instead.”It sounds obvious when someone else points out what would work. All the photos were taken around the mill, in our dining room and the bread oven. Being able to show where the flour is made is so important when marketing organic products.”The repackaging generated even more awards – and more publicity. The flour won Best New Packaging Design at the Organic and Natural Product Industry Awards in 2005 and the mill was named Supreme Champion and Category Winner in the Waitrose Small Producers awards. Another gong in the most recent True Taste Awards included the prize of a year’s free PR support from a specialist firm, which would usually cost a small business thousands of pounds. Bacheldre is benefiting from the expertise of London-based Focus PR.The rest of the mill’s marketing is undertaken by Scott himself, who estimates he spends about one day a week on promoting the business. Measuring the value of any marketing activity is tricky and companies must take a medium- to long-term view when analysing any return on investment and spend time researching which activity is right for them. “I cannot put a figure on how much money we spend on marketing; it is just such an integral part of the business. I just know we are growing and constantly attracting new buyers, so it must be working.”Effective marketing has also raised the mill’s profile internationally. It now sells flour to restaurants and bakers in Russia and Trinidad. And in March, it secured its first order from Greece. The marketing strategy for 2008 includes revamping the mill’s website, so that domestic and overseas customers can order online.As the price of grain roc-kets, clever marketing will be crucial for Bacheldre Mill, so that its margins are protected. It is a challenge this former postman is relishing.—-=== Making time for the media ===Matt Scott aims high when seeking publicity for his business and he is no stranger to television. Celebrity chefs, including Jamie Oliver, have used his flour and specialist channel UKTV Food has filmed at the mill. The channel’s most recent visit was at the end of the year for its Market Kitchen programme.Another TV crew visited in February to film footage for a news story about the rising cost of grain. “We don’t turn anything down. This is all about putting yourself forward and making time for the media, so more people notice you and your products,” says Scott.There have been occasions where expected television coverage has not materialised. The Channel Four series No Going Back, which follows the lives of families starting a new life, filmed the Scotts’ first few weeks at the mill. “But they dropped us in the end, probably because nothing went disastrously wrong or we didn’t end up getting divorced. Perhaps we were a bit more media-savvy than many of the people they interview.”—-=== The principles of DIY press releases ===One of the easiest ways for small businesses to get media coverage is to write press releases giving journalists the latest news on what is happening.This is not as scary as it might sound. The secret is to keep your announcement simple and interesting and ensure the information is sent to the right people at a local newspaper or trade magazine. What are you doing and where? When are you doing it and why? How are you doing it?Write a snappy headline and try and sum everything up in a punchy first sentence which, ideally, should not be more than 25 words long.Try and include a third-party quote from an existing customer or industry expert to endorse what you are saying. Make sure you include your contact details and you are available when the journalist calls.last_img read more

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NAMB plans action group for craft sector

first_imgThe National Associations of Master Bakers (NAMB) is hoping to create an ‘action group’ with the hope of redressing certain perceptions of the craft baking industry. A statement from the NAMB said: “In recent years the craft bakery sector has come under pressure from many fronts. This has led to many companies struggling and a poor perception of the industry to customers, government and potential employees.” The action group would be the starting point of a big campaign to get consumers to spend their money in their local shop and to support the independent craft baker. The objectives of the group would be to remind people that the independent baker has an important commercial and social role in the local community and also to inspire these bakers to maximise their involvement in the local community.last_img read more

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BSB conference tackles topical bakery issues

first_imgThe British Society of Baking’s (BSB) annual conference is to take place on Tuesday 16 June at the Ardencote Manor Hotel, Claverdon, Warwick.Accommodation is available on 15 June, with a conference dinner and entertainment taking place that evening.Speakers at the conference include: Chris Beaney, president of the National Association of Master Bakers; Joanna Bruce, ADM; Matthew May, Alliance for Bakery Students and Trainees; and Bob Whitehurst, Cereform.Topics at the conference include the role of salt in bread, the credit crunch, reducing fat in bakery, the National Craft Bakers’ Week, enzymes in food products and the National Bakery Skills Academy. There will also be a chocolate demonstration from John Slattery, of Manchester-based Slattery Patissier & Chocolatier.The event is open to members and non-members. Information and booking forms are available from BSB secretary Sharon Byrne – email [email protected] or [email protected] or call 01869 247098.last_img read more

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Tasties lands Welsh Tesco deal

first_imgFlintshire firm Tasties has landed a deal to supply Tesco’s 13 stores in North Wales with a new range of sandwiches.The Sandycroft-based sandwich manufacturer has developed a Welsh range including Welsh Lamb and Mint Sauce, Cadog Ploughman’s with Welsh Ale Chutney, and Welsh Rarebit with Sautéed Leeks.The firm said that if the products proved successful in North Wales, it planned to roll out the range in Mid and South Wales and the border stores. It also supplies a range of retail outlets, as well as schools and colleges in North Wales and the north west and its sandwiches are available at airports throughout the UK.Tasties will bolt on its Welsh range of products to its standard range, so that it can offer them to schools and colleges in the north west of England as well as its other Welsh customers, said managing director Richard Brown.“I think this is a great opportunity to get some locally made product into our stores, which our customers are telling us they want more of,” commented Mark Grant, Tesco’s senior buying manager for Wales.“A lot of people talk about food miles and the benefits of local sourcing and our customers want to relate to the shops as local stores. They want to buy products they can recognise from local producers and it’s important that we provide as many Welsh products in our Welsh stores as possible.”Tasties has grown significantly since the firm was bought by the Brown Family in 1992, with production increasing from 800 sandwiches a day to 30,000.last_img read more

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The Fabulous Bakin’ Boys set for three-year growth

first_imgThe Fabulous Bakin’ Boys is looking to double the size of the business by 2015 and increase its workforce by 25% in the next year.The Oxfordshire-based company has announced its expansion plan for the next three years, with the aim to achieve sales targets of around £50m during that time period. It will be looking to develop new product lines, with the recruitment of a new head of innovation.Gary Frank, managing director for The Fabulous Bakin’ Boys, said: “With the installation of our new automated line in the first quarter of 2012, we will be bringing a number of new and exciting products to market.”Our market has been negatively affected by the recession and we have seen a definite trend towards home snacking and affordable treats during these tough times. Innovation is critical to our success and we will continue to drive this throughout our core, existing product lines, as well as continue our heavy investment in the development of new lines.”There are no redundancy plans in place and we are confident in our growth strategies for 2012 and beyond.”The Fabulous Bakin’ Boys manufactures 20,000 muffins and 25,000 flapjacks an hour at its Oxfordshire factory. This year, the company has seen a turnover of £20m, with sales rising 12.9% year-on-year.last_img read more

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