I like to enjoy my food, but I also I want to be sure that what I eat is ’good’ for me. Of course, no single type of food is ever going to be good or bad, it’s a question of how it fits into our overall food intake.Bread is special because it has been our number one source of energy for many generations, but what is its role in our diet today? Clearly, it has changed, and its consumption is now influenced by lifestyle, rather than the need for energy.Health, however, is still important. In recent times, the only commonly accepted negative to emerge has been its salt content, but it is good to see the moves made by bakers to reduce this to levels agreed with health experts.The most interesting recent development has been the use of bread as a carrier for health-promoting ingredients. From wholemeal loaves and slimmers’ bread in the ’60s and ’70s, we have evolved to the wide range of products now available, containing many types of fibres and other grains and cereals. In fact, in the US, wholegrain products have been a major stimulus for growth of this sector. We even have products that are reported to reduce our cholesterol levels and possibly affect our glycaemic index (GI).And it isn’t just bakers who have this idea. Many governments, including our own, are considering fortifying flour with folic acid, to help reduce certain birth defects.These are exciting times and, as an industry, we are fortunate to have a product that plays such an important role in the health of the nation.
Country Choice (Orpington, Kent) has two varieties of fun-size, thaw-and-sell muffins in its Bake & Bite range, available in Double Chocolate or Blueberry flavours.Supplied with film-coated Bake & Bite multi-buy bags, they also come with a two-part label, one part of which contains the product details and date, the other a price
(Cambridge), the inkjet and laser solutions provider, is using this year’s Total Processing & Packaging exhibition for the first public showing of its new M-Series print-and-apply products and for the global preview of its Thermal Transfer Overprinting printers.Domino will also be displaying a whole range of products and services across the coding and marking portfolio, including the recently launched A-Series plus continuous inkjet printers, S-Series plus scribing laser and C-Series plus outer case coders.
Seventeen years ago, Peter Cook was a sandwich maker for his in-laws’ bakery in Ludlow. Today, he’s a Rick Stein food hero and he takes the job seriously.As a director of the Ludlow Marches Food and Drink Festival, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce – which pioneered introducing bakery skills to schoolchildren – and member of the local Slow Food group, Price & Sons’ self-taught master baker occupies a lofty position among the small, local producers whose big reputations spread far beyond the Marches. And this reputation is enhanced every year by the arrival of 20,000 customers over the festival weekend in September.That’s when all eyes fall on Cook’s range of 20 breads and rolls, which are made using traditional techniques and local ingredients. The flours come from Shipton Mill at Tetbury and Bacheldre Watermill at Churchstoke, while Ludlow Brewery and Duncton Cider also feature in the supplier list.”When I started in the bakery, we made only three types of bread: white, wholemeal and Granary. Now we’re up to 20,” says Cook. A 100% rye sourdough loaf and a French pain au levain, made in a 15-hour process, are the latest additions.Each year, he steers a competition between the town’s four bakers to find a Festival Loaf – or to be more accurate, loaves, since it’s rare that the public and expert judges agree.”The public always go for the more exotic and strong-flavoured loaves that make you sit up and take notice, while the experts go for a technically better loaf, like a wholemeal. That’s borne out in the shop. If you have a speciality bread of the month, the ones that sell best are those such as Brie, olive and pine nut, rather than a 100% rye loaf, which may be harder to make well and is more satisfying for the baker. But I’m just glad they’re taking an interest in any bread!”Cook would like to see similar competitions run nationally. “The way sales are going with speciality breads, I would like to see a major event geared towards craft and artisan bakers.”He is a keen competitor himself, but he’s not sorry to have narrowly missed out on the Waitrose Small Producer gong last year. “It would have been hard to supply Waitrose and for it not to have had a detrimental effect on other things.”He is also not keen to expand beyond Price’s heartland. “People have asked us to open shops in Hereford and Worcester, but it would be hard to expand without some quite large changes in the bakery. I’d be quite happy, though, to encourage somebody else there to open up.”That, after all, is what local food is all about. n
North-west bakery chain Sayers unveiled its new look on Wed-nesday after revamping its image and menu.Trading hours will also be extended to Sundays in some of the shops and new breads, such as a multi-seed bloomer and a milk loaf, will be introduced.”Over the coming weeks, customers will see a number of new products and ranges being introduced, including a selection of continental breads, freshly baked in the shop every day,” said MD Michael Quinlan.As part of the rebrand, Hampsons will change its name to Sayers. Both brands are part of the Lyndale family.With shops in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cheshire, the first shop to receive the new look opened at Central Square, Maghull, in Liverpool.According to a spokesperson, the move comes after extensive research was conducted invol-ving hundreds of Sayers and Hampsons customers and staff at the business. The staff will have new uniforms and the “shops will be fresh, modern and contemporary”, added Quinlan.Established in 1912, Sayers has around 200 shops and employs 2,100 staff.Peter Hunt’s Bakery is also part of the Lyndale Group. The company produces a range of savoury goods.
The Village Bakery in Melmerby, near Penrith was named winner of the Taste of Cumbria Award at a ceremony on 13 May at the Castle Green Hotel in Kendal. The award covers all sectors of the food industry from local food producers to farm shops and restaurants. The criteria being that they create a taste experience and are committed to buying or producing locally. Michael Bell, managing director of The Village Bakery, said: “It’s fantastic and reflects all that we’ve being trying to achieve at The Village Bakery over the years.” It has always been the aim of the bakery to offer good quality organic food, and this is something that appears to be becoming more important to consumers. “We also have an organic restaurant which was the first in the country to be accredited by the Soil Association’s Organic Standard,” said Bell. The Village Bakery will now go through to the North West regional final.
Soaring ingredients prices have been one of the talking points of the baking industry this year. With global demand increasing and speculation pushing prices higher, securing a reliable supply route is more challenging than ever for bakers.RM Curtis managing director Mark Setterfield, who has 20 years’ experience in ingredients sourcing, wants his business to be “front of mind” for anyone seeking a reliable source of fruits, nuts, pulses, seeds and spices. Curtis’ core business is sourcing and packing a wide range of dry ingredients, including nuts, dried fruit, spices and cereals for a variety of customers, from wholesale and foodservice to retail and food manufacture. It also offers consultancy on new product development and markets a range of branded products, such as Sunmagic, Eat Natural bars and snack range Snacking Essentials.The 158-year-old business has traditionally focused on sourcing and packing ingredients for wholesale and foodservice customers. Today, this makes up around 40% of its total packing operation, with 30 staff at Halstead, Essex, sorting products into 1kg bags for major names including Brakes, Batleys, Makro and Nisa, to be sold on as own-label or under the Curtis brand. More recently, the business has branched out into supplying retailers and now packs for both Morrisons and Netto.Bulk supply is a newer strand of its business, which has grown swiftly to account for 60% of its packing division. Eight years ago, Setterfield spotted an opportunity to supply larger, 25kg sacks and 12.5kg boxes to food manufacturers. “It was logical to extend our customer base, and that opened our doors to the food manufacturing sector,” Setterfield says.Bulk supply customers include Northern Foods, Matthew Walker, Solway, Fox’s and Dalepak. The new business has helped boost the company’s turnover by 600% – from £6m in 2000 to £42m in 2008.So, how does Curtis go about sourcing its products and checking their quality? Often it is simply a case of testing samples sent in from abroad. At other times, a visit is needed. “We establish their credibility and monitor their stocks to ensure they are performing. They need to pass certain minimums and they must have HACCP processes in place,” Setterfield says. Curtis builds up strong relationships with its own suppliers. “So we have a reliable source when markets go crazy,” says Setterfield, adding, “some companies buy from any old merchant who may or may not ship.”== Interest in traceability ==Curtis’ customers certainly keep it on its toes. “The story retailers want to hear is about provenance,” he says. “They want to know about the supply chain being secure, that there is full traceability even back to the tree it was grown from.”Setterfield continues: “The industry as a whole is looking for something much more interesting for its customers.” Curtis certainly goes out of its way to source the unusual and interesting. Its range includes the trendiest ’superfoods’, such as Vitamin C-rich baobab pulp and antioxidant-rich goji berries.As well as gaining new business, Curtis has a major challenge over the next year, as global demand for fruit and nuts spikes and prices rise proportionally. Setterfield says: “India and China are consuming boatloads. They seem to have a growing middle class, able and interested in looking for products that would never have been in their diets before. They are buying almonds and pecans in massive quantities.”There has been an increase in demand, leaving less-than-optimum supply. The situation has been fuelled by speculation. It can be pushed to inflated levels by speculators, with scant regard for the consequences. Other conditions are unpredictable.”The pound has been devalued over the past year and, as an importing company, anything we sell is in pounds. In my 20 years in the business, I’ve never seen anything like it.”Setterfield also fears the current recession is exacerbating the situation. “It’s a worrying time, because it may impact on people’s eating habits. It could be the indulgent products that are hit first.”But Setterfield is staying positive. He says: “We’re going to push out as much as we can. There are [other ingredients] companies out there who are feeling the pinch, but we will go on being realistic in our margins, as our position in the marketplace continues to grow.”
Britvic has seen its revenue increase 29.3% to £926.5m for the 52 weeks to 28 September 2008, compared with the same 07/08 period. The figures incorporate a full 52-week contribution from Britvic Ireland of £200.7m.The sales in its Great Britain & International division represent a 4.8% increase over the 52 weeks, which has been put down to the growth in stills and carbonates in the GB market.A downturn in consumer spending, continued challenges in the licensed on-premise market and the poor summer weather have been noted as barriers to sales growth over the last year.Despite an overall decline in volume in the GB stills market of 2.7%, Britvic saw strong volume growth of 8.1%. Within the GB carbonates market, it increased its sales volume by 4.3%.Paul Moody, chief executive, commented that the business has delivered a strong performance despite the challenges of current market conditions and rising raw material and energy costs. “The business has achieved good revenue growth, increased market volume and value share with tight cost control helping to deliver our target of increasing GB & International operating profit margin by at least 10-15 basis points,” said Moody. “Consequently, we expect to deliver earnings for the year in line with expectations.”
The Warburton family has announced with great sadness that Tom Warburton, from the fourth generation of the family business, passed away on Monday 21 September 2009, aged 83.Tom, the father of current executive director Ross Warburton, had a long-standing illness, and passed away peacefully, leaving behind his wife Joyce and son Ross.Along with his cousin Derrick and George, who both passed away earlier this year, and his cousin Henry, Tom played a key role in the business as co-chairman during the 1970s and ’80s, until the fourth generation jointly retired in 1988.The family said “his entrepreneurial spirit and drive helped lay the foundations for the existing bread business”.
Cake and biscuit manufacturers are having to contend with wildly fluctuating sugar and cocoa prices, with little sign that the situation will stabilise in the coming year.Cocoa prices reached a 29-year high of $3,143/tonne last month 17% higher than a year ago and 62% higher than two years ago following a third consecutive shortfall in the world harvest.Meanwhile, the price of sugar in Europe, which is set in euros, has fallen by around a third since the EU began reforms of the quota system four years ago, but weakness in the value of sterling in the past year has offset some of these gains for British manufacturers. Between January 2008 and October 2009 the cumulative effect of fluctuations in the value of sterling against the euro added up to an extra £110 on a tonne of sugar, according to data from Renshawnapier. The world price of sugar has increased by around 80% in the past year due to poor harvests in Brazil and India, and increasing global demand, leading to speculation on the market.Although Europe is largely insulated from world market prices because of the quota system, the EU’s recent reforms mean that more needs to be imported (at the world price), which could have a growing influence on European prices in the long-term. Moving forward, the current world shortfall in sugar supply and increased consumption means world prices “will have to move higher to ration demand”, according to sugar broker Czarnikow.Cocoa prices are also unlikely to fall in the coming year with the 2009/10 West African crop widely expected to be at the same level or lower than last year, which was itself the lowest in 14 years. This is likely to lead to a fourth consecutive year of deficit in world cocoa.