A large bakery plant, with several freezer and chiller rooms using plastic strip doors to maintain the right temperature, can run into downtime and health and safety issues. This proved the case for Tyneside plant baker Greggs North East, which has 21 freezer and chill rooms.Each door featured an overhead air curtain combined with several plastic strips. Yet these strip doors were easily damaged, due to the number of times they were opened and closed. In certain cases, some of the strips had been removed altogether for convenience. DowntimeAs a result, downtime problems were occurring due to maintenance and cleaning, made necessary by the heat from the ovens in the bakery. And, in one of the larger freezer rooms, condensation was causing ice to form on the floor in the doorway, which extended into the room, posing a health and safety hazard.Having read an article on Seymour Manufacturing International’s (SMI) Tempro Cold Stop insulated curtains, Greggs North East chief engineer Eddie Cartledge made contact with the Telford, shropshire-based firm. The worst doors in the plant were assessed and it was decided that SMI would supply and fit Cold Stop curtains to five freezer and chill rooms. Top priority was the freezer running at –28ºC, where floor ice had accumulated. Since installation of the new curtains, the ice problem has been eliminated, claims SMI. Greggs has since decided to use Cold Stop’s curtains in all 21 freezer and chiller rooms.Tempro Cold Stop’s thermal efficiency is claimed to reduce cold room energy consumption by enabling optimum settings on evaporator equipment to achieve the internal working temperature. Patented by SMI, the curtains’ Tempro technology is claimed to provide insulation that is far greater than on standard curtains. Its energy reducing features qualify it for 100% tax relief under the government’s Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECAs) Scheme, which include delivery and installation costs. ECAs enable businesses to claim 100% tax relief in the first year of purchase of designated energy-saving plant and machinery.Energy savingsThe Cold Stop curtain panels come in standard 475mm widths and bespoke heights. Panels have deep, frost-clear windows, which SMI claims are light, easy to clean and flexible. Field trials, says the company, indicate that they last up to five to six times longer that PVC strip designs, offering substantial capital savings. SMI’s ‘cold lock’ system ensures the curtains fit neatly to the door head and floor.Mr Cartledge says he anticipates energy savings in the future, as there was a noticeable reduction in refrigeration plant running times in the rooms where the plastic strips had been replaced. “We have disconnected the air curtains in those rooms too, which will cut energy consumption,” he says. “And, if our maintenance downtime is reduced, the curtains will pay for themselves in a short time.”
A BOLTON baker has retired after 50 years in the trade. Peter Holmes, 65, was given a special send off by staff and managers at Hampsons Bakery.He joined the company in 1956 and has worked there ever since. Describing the changes in the trade from 50 years ago he said: “We used to know all of our customers by name, but it isn’t like that anymore. The job is more automated, but I guess that is progress.”Bakery supervisor Ron Burton said: “He is a terrific guy and he will be missed. He is a master of confectionery; there is surely no cake he hasn’t baked.”
Some 200 visitors attended the first Scottish Bakers’ Fair, held in Edinburgh on 24 September.Twenty-seven ingredients and equipment suppliers and trade bodies took stands at the regional event, organised by William Reed Events and the Scottish Association of Master Bakers (SAMB).Many reported that the fair gave them an opportunity to build a closer relationship with Scot-tish customers.British Sugar marketing operations manager Myra Hales commented: “The main purpose of coming to the show is to find out more about what Scottish bakers want and fill in any gaps in our relationship. Scotland is Tate & Lyle’s heartland, and we want to build our presence here.”Newsmith Stainless also took a stand at the show, manned by Oliver Douglas sales director Paul Woodhead. He said the show was an opportunity to reassure Oliver Douglas’ Scottish customers that it was business as usual, following the recent Newsmith acquisition of Oliver Douglas (British Baker, 18 August, pg 3).Meanwhile, craft bakers at the show welcomed the fact that suppliers had travelled to see them. Browning’s the Bakers MD John Gall commented: “It is good to have this event in Scotland; it saves travelling to Birmingham or London, which is what we normally have to do when there is a show on. A show is the best place to find a new piece of equipment, which can take a full week if you invite different suppliers to the bakery to see you.”Meanwhile André Sarafilovic, MD of Wm Stephens in Dunferm-line, commented: “This is very good. It is great to see suppliers make the effort to be here.”SAMB chief executive Kirk Hunter said: “It has been an excellent show; we are pleased to see so many members here.” The SAMB used the event to promote its plans for a Scottish bakery training centre, due to open in January on the site of retail and wholesale baker Mathieson’s new bakery.SAMB past president, John Murray said the site would cater for theoretical and practical training, including bakery and computer skills. “We have always wanted something like this and we are delighted we have done it,” he said.Exhibitors also included Renshaw, Bakels, Fleming Howden, Advanced Food Equipment, Brook Food, Unifine, ADM Milling, Muntons, Puratos and Mono.
Fox’s has relaunched its Echo brand as the ultimate in adult indulgence. Originally launched in 1999, the brand has undergone a major revamp in response to extensive consumer research carried out by Fox’s last year. Containing 75% chocolate, Echo has been repositioned to be more than just a lunchbox filler and repackaged as a sophisticated biscuit bar.“We have worked really hard with consumers to understand the market and how Echo can be repositioned to make its mark,” said Echo senior brand manager, Jim Procter-Blain. The new-look design is based around a ‘rohrshack’ style ink-blot test, offering an element of interactivity as consumers can interpret different patterns on the wrapper. “By increasing the product’s presence on shelf we’re hoping to attract new and lapsed users to the fixture and add incremental growth, not only to the Echo brand but the growing chocolate biscuit bar category as a whole,” added Procter-Blain.The range consists of Milk Chocolate, Orange and Mint varieties and come in packs of six or eight. The new design is available in stores now.
We have a three-year plan to double the size of our business,” says an excited Délifrance MD Ian Dobbie, having just cut the ribbon on a spanking new bake-off plant in Wigston, near Leicester. Having topped the £40m turnover mark at the end of last year, this represents a major kick-on for the business, which has seen around 15-20% year-on-year growth for the past decade. Until now, the firm has been largely perceived as a frozen par-bake specialist, but this is set to change, with a renewed assault on the packaged morning goods category, armed with a new ability to fully bake-off its own products.The first year of that three-year plan culminated this month with the opening of Délifrance’s new 3,000sq m bake-off factory, built alongside the existing 4,000sq m frozen par-baked production facility. Known simply as Délifrance 2, it produces fully-baked croissants, pains au chocolat, and pains aux raisins in standard and mini sizes and will soon add brioches to the repertoire. The facility will turn out 20 million croissants a year with a five-day shelf life, as part of its ambitions to steal market share in retail, foodservice and wholesale.This capacity is on top of what is now being called Délifrance 1 – the existing site that employs 130 people, producing 60 different frozen speciality breads from scratch. The major change, therefore, is that the company can now supply baked products fresh into stores, rather than having to bake them via third-party bakeries, giving it much more control over production and availability. It also offers a stronger foothold in the wrapped morning goods category, serviced by plant producers.The major reason for opening the plant was to bake off products for Waitrose’s own-label packaged Viennoiserie. “We wanted to offer something different for the retail market, especially Waitrose,” says Dobbie. “We thought that, with their reputation, their bread fixture should be different and we said we were prepared to put in a new bakery to deliver it.”Now the capability is in place, Dobbie says the longer-term plan is to extend its supply into other retailers. “Our first priority has been Waitrose, which has been very supportive and committed to growing our retail business. We can then look at going further into other retail partners or, with the addition of an in-line freezer on-site, provide thaw-and-serve products for foodservice.”The major differentiator in this highly competitive marketplace is the French origin of the products, allowing retailers to make provenance claims on-pack, says Dobbie. Teresa Lindley, category controller of bakery for Waitrose, tells BB that the provenance of the product – which is shipped in pre-proved and frozen from France – fits the retailer’s plans for its packaged morning goods.”We have taken Délifrance croissants and pains au chocolat for two to three years,” explains Lindley. “Délifrance has the process in-house. It’s a product that is made in France, it’s authentic, and it’s now baked-off by Délifrance, so it really is a fresh product made to the highest standards.”For Dobbie, the move complements its existing in-store bakery offer, because it can now provide products that appeal to a different consumer – those who buy packs to take home for weekend consumption.”We now think we have the best of both worlds, because we can take authentic, high-quality French products, and then add value by baking them and distributing them fresh in a convenient plant bakery format,” he says.The next step will be adding on extra shifts to build capacity at the first unit, before eventually branching into the other two units. “We’re very excited at the way things have gone and I would hope that, by this time next year, we’re on our next phase of investment,” he says. “I’ve noticed a spring in people’s steps around the place, because the investment shows that we’re going places.”—-=== Going shopping for new kit ===”The new production site is not fully automated,” says MD Ian Dobbie. “The way to add value to products is flexibility, so we opted for a degree of manual handling and have employed 25 new staff.”New factory equipment includes:l an Acrivarn prover, custom-built to take 80 racks; an Acrivarn egg washer for use with free-range eggs; and an Acrivarn cooling systeml five MIWE two-rack roll-in ovens perform six bakes per hour of various productsl Loma metal detectors, which ensure no unwanted metal enters the productl a Fuji horizontal form-fill packaging machine that is belt-driven as opposed to chainl a Markem smart data coder puts on the vital bar code and other information.—-=== Pushing provenance ===Délifrance is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its brand in the UK this year and the provenance of its French-made product is playing a key role in its future market positioning. The firm is a subsidiary of the French Nutrixo group, which is partly owned by farming co-operatives and partly by its own employees. Indeed, every employee has a chance to buy a share in the business, if desired. “This gives it an entrepreneurial feel, as employees then have an interest in the business and its success,” says Dobbie.Nutrixo has milling and production operations, which, together with its connections to farming co-operatives, give it complete control over the supply chain, from developing new varieties of wheat for baking, to training the next generation of craft bakers at the Ecole de Boulangerie et de Patisserie de Paris. It also has its own internal certification process for full traceability. The products to be baked-off in the new Wigston facility are produced and frozen in Bethune, northern France, one of five Viennoiserie factories in the group, each making different products.Having total traceability of supply is paramount in today’s marketplace, states Dobbie. “More importantly, it gives us a confidence in the consistency of the products. And for that you need a reliable source. That gives us a strength against some of our competitors, who buy in from a variety of sources; we know where all ours come from and that’s our unique point of difference.”The firm’s best-selling product in the UK is its Charentes croissant – made with Charentes butter from Normandy. All the products use the group’s Grands Moulins de Paris flour. French miller Sebastien Canceil, from the firm’s Euromill Nord in the Champagne region, will be travelling to Leicester over the next two months to aid the transition of the new wheat crop through production.l Délifrance has launched a Jumbo Pain au Chocolat (pictured), with a double bar of dark chocolate, aimed at providing convenience for caterers, cafés, sandwich bars and hotels. Together with the Délifrance Viennoiserie range, it can be baked from frozen in a preheated oven at 175?C for 15-18 minutes.
Kerrs Bakery is celebrating its tenth anniversary by opening a new £1m factory in Motherwell, with annual turnover predicted to reach more than £2m this year. The wholesale business – one of the main producers of Caramel Cake in Scotland – manufactures a wide range of long-life handmade cakes, as well as short-life cakes with a 12-14-day shelf life.The new factory is three times the size of the old one and Kerrs expect to hire an additional 13 staff, to join its existing team of 20, before the summer. Founder Karen Murray opened a small shop in Armadale, West Lothian, 10 years ago with start-up help from the Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust, to make caramel cake. Products are distributed directly to small grocers, coffee shops, delicatessens and supermarkets, mainly in Scotland, and Murray has plans to expand the retail supply. “We have done some small orders for Scottish supermarkets and would like to develop that this year,” she said.
There is less than a month left until the start of National Doughnut Week (NDW), but there’s still time to sign up and get involved. The week, sponsored by BakeMark UK, runs from 9-16 May and gives bakers the chance to benefit from boosting its doughnut sales as well as making money for charity.For every doughnut sold, a donation goes to The Children’s Trust – a charity that provides specific care, education and therapy for children with multiple disabilities.To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Trust, NDW aims to raise more than £50,000.Founder of NDW Christopher Freeman, of Dunn’s Bakery in Crouch End, North London, is encouraging craft bakers up and down the country to get involved.“In these days of difficult trading conditions and doom and gloom, this is a fun event that will raise the profile of high street craft bakers and raise money for the most severely challenged children in the UK. What’s stopping you?” says Freeman.Two employees from Dunn’s have also decided to don doughnut costumes and take part in this year’s Flora London Marathon on 26 April, in aid of The Children’s Trust.Mark Legg and his partner Mari Griffiths are running in the event to help raise awareness about National Doughnut Week.If you would like to sponsor Mark and Mari, please visit www.justgiving.com/marigriffiths1. Bakers can obtain registration forms for NDW from Christopher Freeman by calling or texting 07776 480 032, or emailing him at [email protected] You can also sign up online at www.nationaldoughnutweek.org.
By Daniel Stevens, introduced by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall224 pages, Published by Bloomsbury, £14.99It’s rare that a book comes along that combines breadmaking and DIY, but here it is. Not content with offering a pretty thorough description of the breadmaking process and a range of classic bread recipes, Stevens goes one further with a step-by-step guide to building a clay oven.”If I was a lump of dough,” he writes, “proving my final minutes away and contemplating the manner of my passing, I’d choose the old-fashioned way to go – to be slipped, bare-bottomed, straight on to the ash-covered floor of a hell-hot wood-fired oven.”Such flights of lunacy have evidently rubbed off from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, whom he works under as River Cottage’s baker. As you would expect, no book released under the Fearnley-Whittingstall banner would come without a little tub-thumping. His protégé is no exception, not only railing against plant bread, but also lambasting supermarket in-stores and even those local craft bakers that ape industrial breadmaking on a smaller scale.But for a small book, it is densely packed with nuts-and-bolts information, from working out bakers’ percentages to ingredient suppliers. Product-wise, there’s a strong traditionally British bent to his bread, from spelt breads to English muffins, sourdoughs, hot cross buns and lardy cakes, but rounded out with focaccia, roti, doughnuts, bagels and crackers. And in these frugal times, his serving suggestions for waste bread are useful café options including panzanella (a Tuscan bread salad), and more eyebrow-raising, brown bread ice cream.
Tom Herbert is a fifth-generation baker and director of Hobbs House Bakery, a multi-award-winning craft bakery, based in GloucestershireWell, we’ve nurtured our sourdough for a long, long, time. It was already very old when we started using it 25 years ago and it has risen the dough of some of our finest loaves. And recently, Uncle Sam collected the Artisanal Bread Product of the Year award from Ronnie Corbett at the Baking Industry Awards for our Wild White loaf its second national award in two years. On the back of the awards, selling a pile of sourdough loaves at the Organic Food festival in Bristol, and another pile that I shifted with my son, Milo, at Tetbury food festival, I asked my shop team leaders, how can we sell more in our shops? After one heck of a ’mind smash’, we agreed to run a week-long promotion. And the killer feature would be that, during every single transaction, the customer is asked: “Would you like to buy the Artisanal Loaf of the Year?” There would of course be the ubiquitous posters, window displays (featuring serving suggestions) and sampling. I also agreed to run a for-one-week-only promotional price, with about £1 off each loaf.It was during this week that the Queen of Shops, Mary Portas came to film in my Nailsworth bakery/café for the day. She brought with her the proprietor and baker from a South London family bakery to find inspiration among our hallowed gingerbread walls. Knowing something of Mary’s reputation, sharp-as-a-bread-slicer wit, and retail raptor eyes, I was baguetting myself (pardon my French). The responsibility of being the exemplar saw a Herculean mid-week effort and was rewarded with a Portas “Wow!” I’m sure the consistent message of our promotion helped and I felt relaxed long before she pinched my bottom.But it wasn’t just Mary’s box that was ticked, the promotion totally worked. And here’s the rub. In my Cirencester shop, they chose not to sell the Wild White at a promotional price and annihilated the sales in the other shops. That proved, beyond doubt in my mind, that customers buy sourdoughs and other artisanal breads on benefit and not price. In fact, I’m certain that a great loaf sold at a discount is a confusing and unappealing proposition to most people. And how does one encourage shop staff who don’t like the taste of sourdough to wax lyrical about it? I put on a two-hour bread event on a Friday evening, with the first handful of my shop team and some ladies from the office. It commenced with a Willy Wonka-style tour of the bakery, into the warm and humid prover, past the running-at-full-steam ovens, dipping fingers into the sourdough vats, inhaling the heady aroma of the overnight dough tubs, through the walk-through freezer; it was a bit like any dry ice scene in an ’80s power ballad being followed by a dozen women. We then rolled up our sleeves and each made a soda loaf. While the soda bread was baking, we sampled sourdough and other breads and made notes on how each of the breads would be best enjoyed and I had an opportunity to tell the stories and share the benefits with my rapt team.Everyone took home a hot soda bread and I’m thrilled with the feedback; young Nathan was heard the next day extolling the virtues of soda bread to a willing customer, authoritatively adding, “I made one yesterday.”In a nutshell, selling sourdough is about sampling (ideally toasted and hot and buttered), engaging the sales team with the making and the story and encouraging the smiling staff to invite customers to buy. Job’s a goodun. And the sourdough has been selling like hotcakes!
Commodity price spikes are one thing – bakers have grown used to those. But price rises in flour, butter, cocoa – you name it – pale into insignificance next to the threat that sugar supplies will run out in the UK and eye-watering prices are on the way.World market sugar prices reached a 30-year high in November and this will be the third year that global production/consumption has been in deficit. Of course, most of the sugar consumed in Europe is produced in the EU, which still operates import tariffs. In the EU, of the 16.5m tonnes consumed, 13.3m tonnes comes from European producers. One commodities broker told BB he believed part of the availability problem stemmed from difficulties in securing the imported sugar that makes up the balance, based on world prices and weather affecting crops. Russia, Brazil and South Africa have battled hot, dry weather. Meanwhile, Indonesia and Australia have suffered extreme wet weather. The global production response to the price spike in the first part of 2010 has been smaller than first expected. With many harvests now coming to an end, it has become apparent that global availability at 168.4m metric tonnes raw value (mtrv) in 2010/11 will not be enough to meet predicted consumption of 170.8m mtrv. Caught short While EU sugar refiners may have covered 90% of their requirement and waited to top up their supplies on the spot market, high prices and availability problems mean they have been caught short. In Europe as a whole, there is not enough sugar to cover contracts and this will affect every- thing from sugars to syrups. “Weather conditions have caused a lack of volume, and production (of sugar) has not been as much as people were anticipating, which pushed prices up on the world market,” said Eifion Owen, Bako Northern & Scotland’s purchasing manager. “People were anticipating next year would be a decent harvest, but it hasn’t materialised that way.” To make matters worse, the EU indicated recently that it would be issuing 350,000 tonnes of export licences, meaning that a big quantity of sugar would exit the EU, sending shockwaves through the industry at a time when sugar supplies are running out. The Committee of European Users of Sugar (CIUS), which represents the interests of food and beverage sugar users, has called for this sugar not to be exported and to be made available to EU consumers. Following lobbying, the European Commission’s sugar management committee has postponed this decision until 9 December. “If this were to go ahead, we believe it would put the market in an increased problem of supply. It’s not a question of price, it’s a question of physical supply. There’s no more sugar available,” said Muriel Korter, CIUS secretary-general. Last month, the Commission suspended its E98/ton import duty to make imports cheaper, but CIUS said this is not enough. Availability is scarce and Tate & Lyle has announced prices will rise by E176 per tonne. Impact on bakers So how will this situation affect bakers, large to small? “It’s back to front – the bigger your requirement, the worse it is,” explained Bako’s Owen. “Smaller quantity sugar is probably more competitive than large volumes, because suppliers are scared of getting into a contract they cannot fulfil. There is sugar out there and people can buy it, but they will have to pay exceedingly high prices to import it. Everybody is on the hunt for sugar and trying to get their contracts covered, especially the bigger users, as they are the most vulnerable.” Volatility is here to stay and problems are unlikely to ease until next year’s harvest, especially as traders remain attracted to foodstuff commodities. “The market has been volatile and there are differing views as to how much is down to money chasing commodities, and how much is due to genuine shortage,” said John Duffy, chief executive of one of the UK’s largest cake manufacturers, Finsbury Food Group.“The sugar market has gone through big structural changes (EU Sugar Reform), but this sort of short-term localised spike doesn’t seem to be driven by that. In the short term we have contracts in place, so availability is not the issue. Clearly, it’s another situation of input price inflation on an essential ingredient in bakery and it’s unwelcome. I don’t think that it’s particularly helpful to end-manufacturers to have basic foodstuff commodities subject to speculation. Unfortunately, we cannot control that, so we have to deal with the consequences of it.” Toby Cohen, head of analysis at brokers Czarnikow, said the outlook for the market remains extremely fragile. “The sugar futures market has fallen from its recent highs and the underlying fundamental trends have strengthened, which suggests that the fall in prices is a function of the unprecedented rise in volatility and global macro risks, as opposed to being a sugar-related event,” he said.“Given the heightened tension in global markets, sharp falls, as well as rises in commodity values, should be expected – even if these do not correlate on a day-to-day basis with underlying market fundamentals. However, in terms of longer-moving trends, it is very apparent that the market has not resolved the underlying physical imbalance and further supply stress has to be expected.”