AB Brasil, Latin America’s lea-ding producer of fresh yeast and part of Associated British Foods, now wraps all its Fleischmann yeast in Cellophane 360MSB from Innovia Films and has cut water loss by nearly 50% as a result. The company also says that product quality and shelf life have been improved.AB Brasil has also cut energy costs by reducing storage temperatures from -11º C to -5ºC following the move.The white Cellophane 260MSB is made from renewable wood pulp and coated to provide a high barrier to moisture and gases. This ensures the activity of the yeast is maximised when it is used.The film can be printed using all the conventional printing processes and handles well on high-speed packing lines.
Bells of Lazonby has won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise – Innovation Award 2006 – for allergy-friendly bakery pro-ducts under its Ok Foods and Village Bakery brands.The Cumbrian family firm was the only bakery company among 145 award winners, announced as the Queen celebrated her 80th birthday last week. Its gluten-, wheat- and dairy-free products were commended as an outstanding achievement in innovation.MD Michael Bell told British Baker: “We are so delighted. We have worked tremendously hard over the past six years to reinvent our business. I don’t know any other bakery company which has ever won this award.” He added that he had never been as excited by the food industry and its diversity as he is at the moment.Michael Bell will be presented with a handmade crystal bowl on behalf of The Queen, by a representative of Her Majesty, later this year. The Awards are made each year by The Queen, on the advice of the Prime Minister, who is assisted by an Advisory Committee that includes representatives of government and the trade unions. An Award is held for a period of five years from the date of its announcement. The only other bakery company to have won a Queen’s Award is Walkers Shortbread, which has won three Awards for Export Achievement.
Tate & Lyle plans to sell off its Food & Industrial Ingredients, Europe, division following changes in the European sugar regime.The sugar company said ownership of the business was no longer an essential part of its strategy to focus on value-added ingredients.Tate & Lyle said it will continue to develop its value-added food ingredients business in Europe by buying ingredients companies.EU sugar regime reform entails a large drop in the guaranteed minimum sugar price, compensation for farmers and a restructuring fund to encourage uncompetitive sugar firms to leave the industry.
There are plenty of bakers in my home town of Bridport in Dorset, all well-established and apparently holding their own, although their turnover has been affected for the worse by the edge-of-town supermarket.Yet anecdotal evidence suggests the situation is less buoyant for bakers elsewhere in the UK. As a trade association representing the interests of small independent retailers, we are constantly drawing ministers’ attention to the continuing demise of the high street, des-pite their protestations that their planning priority is the regeneration of town centres.Of those canvassed in our recent survey, Health of the High Street, 70% said that the high street played a vital part in the socio-economic make up of their neighbourhood. Yet why is it that, every year, more people are voting with their feet and taking their custom to the edge-of-town and out-of-town shopping centres? There is no single reason, but let’s look at the problem from the perspective of both the consumer and the retailer.Consumers want a holistic experience when they shop on the high street. It starts by being able to gain easy access, finding a place to park relatively easily and at a reasonable cost. They want to shop in an environment that is safe, relatively pollution- and graffiti-free, with good facilities such as lavatories, benches and so on and one that offers a wide range of shops, food and beverage outlets and entertainment. People want to shop locally and support their local economy because they know that, by doing so, their money is circulating locally.So what is the problem? Simply put, small retailers are not getting the support they deserve from national or local government.Planning at a national level has no consistency and is influenced by the developers and large retailer agenda. Just look at the preliminary announcement of the Competition Commission’s report into the ’big four’ grocers – it actually recommends greater competition among them, by building more supermarkets rather than fewer! There is no joined-up government thinking when it comes to retail development and no long-term strategy that cascades down to local government.Meawhile, the costs retailers have to bear are rising exponentially. Turnover is under threat and margins are reducing, so bakers, like everyone else, are having ’to run to stand still’. The national minimum wage (NMW) has outstripped the rise in average earnings considerably and property rentals have risen way above the rate of inflation. Bakers have to be on the high street to attract footfall, but high-street rents are very high, due to demand. This is not helped by charity shops, which are prepared to pay a higher rental as they receive an 80% waiver in their Business Rate. This rental then becomes the benchmark for the high street and, with business rates pegged to rental value, the poor retailer gets a double whammy!The BSSA’s ’Agenda for Change’ has three key objectives, which are achievable and would make a real difference to retail bakers:l we need more transparency in the setting of the NMW – the index needs to be a measure that is timely, intuitive and relevant;l Small Business Rate Relief needs to be doubled from a threshold of £10,000 to £20,000;l a simple lease agreement template in plain English needs to be produced, which lessees can understand and comply with, in the confidence that they have a reasonable deal.We must put up a robust fight now if we are to save the high street, a vitally important part of our heritage.
You may remember, three weeks ago, when Stop the Week featured a story on [http://www.baby-cakes.co.uk], which makes its cakes from unconventional ingredients: nappies. Well, owner Miranda Hart got in touch to express her delight at the coverage, and concurred that the concept would have struggled in the BBC’s Dragons’ Den. “I quite agree – definitely not a conventional filling, but one which is literally flying out like ’hot cakes’! I don’t think I would like to put myself through the Dragons’ Den – I can hear their comments now ’Nappy what?’, ’Cakes?’, ’I wouldn’t want a chocolate-filled one!’ etc.”She was pleased to report, though, that the success of her one-year-old website proves there is a market out there for nappy cakes – and it’s growing. But we still cannot see cake giants like Memory Lane Cakes or Greencore picking up the ball and running with it any time soon. Still, it’s pleasing to see BB is on the radar of the nappy cake-making community
Enco Products is launching its first mainstream snacking range. The new range consists of green banana chips, plantain chips and sweet plantain chips, and will be available in 85g bags.Enco, a division of Grace Foods UK, is a market leader in the UK’s Caribbean food and drink market, and is launching the snacks as an alternative to traditional savoury snacks.”The new, exotic range will enable people to experience a tasty, new snacking experience,” said George Phillips, Enco Products’ commercial director. “It will also provide retailers with an incremental profit opportunity by providing a major point of interest on-shelf.”The range is gluten-free and suitable for vegetarians. It is available packed in outers of 12.RRP: 79p[http://www.gracefoods.co.uk]
The baking industry has found it harder to pass on price increases caused by soaring commodity prices compared to other sectors of the food industry, because consumers are more aware of the retail price of bakery products.This is one of the findings from a new report from research company Rabobank, called Challenging Times in Processed Food – Dealing with Agricultural Price Inflation.According to the report, food processors saw their cost base rise by 6% in 2007 and 16% in 2008 (until October), due to the sharp increases in agricultural commodity and energy prices. However, while some parts of the food industry were able to pass on price increases to the multiples, which in turn increased retail prices, food manufacturers producing staples such as bread, found it harder to get price rises through. This was because supermarkets were reluctant to raise the price of products that are well-known to consumers for fear of being perceived as expensive.Bakery products also suffered disproportionately from the rise in commodity prices, because flour makes up such a large percentage of the finished product. said the report.ZZ
Jumping up six places in British Baker’s Top 50 bakery retailers table this January, was UK coffee chain Coffee Republic. Currently at ninth place, up from 15 last year, the firm has seen massive expansion in the last year and shows no signs of slowing down.It may still be behind Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Caffè Nero in terms of store numbers, but it managed to more than double its estate in 2008, from 102 outlets at the end of 2007, to just over 200 stores at the start of 2009. And it plans to achieve a total of 250 outlets by the end of the year. So what is the secret of its success? Successful franchising it seems.The coffee house, established in 1995, has franchised outlets in the UK, as well as concessions in Cineworld cinemas and pub retailer and brewer Greene King. According to head of franchising Kath Cooper, the expansion was achieved due to an aggressive recruitment marketing programme throughout 2006 and early 2007, as well as a drive to find suitable concessions partners, which saw them strike the deal with Cineworld.”Our concessions department grew from 36 at the end of 2007 to 111 by the end of 2008, and Coffee Republic will continue to grow its concessions profile in 2009,” says Cooper. “Our strategy is to target different market sectors over the year, with the opportunity to add incremental sales through our premium branded coffee offer.”In terms of bakery, Coffee Republic offers a wide range of products, including traditionally popular pastries such as croissants and pains au chocolat, and it believes the quality of the food is equally as important as the drinks it offers. “We bake most of our pastries and baguettes, from raw, frozen dough, in-store daily,” says Cooper. “Where we gain the edge on our competitors is by baking fresh every day.”The company says it always tries to improve its food range and introduce new products. “We wouldn’t compromise on the quality we provide to our customers, no matter how tough the market is. The best way to drive footfall into our stores is to offer our customers some special offers and promotions on the products that we provide to them.”Cooper says the business has felt the threat of other high-street coffee chains, but that this can often be used in a positive way. “For example, Christmas 2006 was all about the gingerbread latte at Starbucks. Guess what drink we included on our Christmas 2007 menu?” One of Coffee Republic’s strengths is its ability to change procedures or promotions quickly, she says.As with a lot of businesses, the UK’s current economy has stifled expansion plans somewhat. “Potential investors are being cautious, as are the banks and other financial institutions,” explains Cooper. “What we have found is that we are attracting candidates from different backgrounds – for example, candidates who are now coming into the system have good operational experience but, due to the current climate, have faced redundancy or have simply not found a suitable job. Franchising is a good option in this environment.”The chain has also expanded its reach into overseas coffee culture, with franchises in Malta, Dubai, Bulgaria, Kuwait and Turkey to name a few. Cooper says that, despite the fact many people put the popularity of coffee shops down to them often being focal points in US television series, such as Central Perk in Friends, few people realise that coffee houses actually originated in Turkey.”Coffee Republic has international operations in nine countries, with further expansion plans in place for Asia, Europe and the Middle East,” she says, adding that it’s the business’ aim to cater for the varying tastes of the different cultures in which it is located. Coffee Republic may not be about to knock Costa from its number three spot in the current Top 50 table, but it is definitely going to try.
Frozen desserts have been experiencing a revival, according to the latest research unveiled by Mintel. Sales increased by 4% in 2008 and are set to increase by a further 5% over the next year, said the market analyst.This could potentially mean a market worth £284m by the end of 2009. Hot-eating desserts and gateaux are the frozen desserts of choice, accounting for 40% of all sales.However, Mintel said that while chilled desserts continued to account for 70% of the sector’s sales, as many as a third of British consumers admitted to cutting back on them, due to financial reasons.“Around 16% of all Brits have switched from buying chilled desserts to the frozen variety in an effort to reduce their grocery shopping bill,” said Mintel.“There is no doubt that sales of frozen desserts have benefited from consumers looking for cheaper desserts during the recession,” commented Emmanuelle Bouvier, senior consumer analyst. “Birds Eye re-introduced its famous Arctic Roll in late 2008 to take advantage of the return to frozen foods and the current popularity of nostalgic brands.”
Cornish craft bakery Rowe’s has joined with Asda to launch the supermarket’s first in-store savoury bakery concession.It was officially opened on 16 July at the Asda store in St Austell, Cornwall, and features a 12ft long hot counter and 12ft ambient sections, as well as a food-to-go offering at the front of the store.Asda’s change manager Roy Clark said the supermarket had trialled concessions in other areas, which had proved popular and was keen to develop an offer in the bakery sector. “Sales of local products have increased by 41% at Asda this year and this venture with Rowe’s demonstrates our commitment to a partnership approach to working with West Country brands.”The venture builds on Rowe’s previous relationship with Asda in the West Country, which has seen the bakery supply breads, cakes and pasties to the supermarket for the past 15 years. Rowe’s also supplies frozen unbaked savouries nationally for both the in-store bakeries and Asda Cafés.Paul Pearce, director of marketing at Rowe’s, said the concession would allow the firm to put its products in front of the consumer in a different environment to its high street shops, and there were no plans for more concessions. “Its performance will be carefully reviewed and any steps to take this format forward will be determined by its success,” he added.