The creation of a new training centre for Scottish bakers was announced at the Scottish Association of Master Bakers (SAMB) conference, held from May 27-29 in Peebles. Scotland’s first ever Scottish Bakery Training Centre at Larbert, Stirlingshire, which is almost complete, was described by President John Murray as “highly significant and very exciting”. Head of skills training at the SAMB Arthur Rayer told British Baker: “The SAMB will be able to offer members something it has never had before, its own dedicated training centre.” The new centre, which will also be hired out to non-members, has been made possible thanks to the generosity of craft bakers Mathiesons of Falkirk, which has 34 shops and a wholesale trade. MD George Stevenson offered to convert an area of the company’s new bakery and offices, and provide it to the SAMB for training purposes. Initially, it is a five-year agreement with the option to extend for another five years.Rayer said: “It will be a ‘centre of excellence’ and will comprise two facilities. A state-of-the-art training room will provide complete learning, including eight computers linked to Learn Direct Scotland, the government-funded body providing computer-based learning. There will also be a fully equipped bakery where ‘masters’ of the craft, including current bakers, retired bakers, technical representatives and specialists from ingredients companies, will be able to tutor students, give demonstrations and monitor progress.”Rayer continued: “We plan to offer everything from confectionery and bread-making courses to fault finding, retail training, health and safety and HACCP. We have already secured European Social Funding for the West of Scot-land amounting to £200,000 for two years to fund courses. We are currently bidding for funding for other Scottish regions.”Rayer spoke about the difficulty of recruiting bakers, particularly young bakers but also adults who do not receive the same government training allowances as those aged up to 24. However, after several initiatives the SAMB trained 900 people during 2006.He paid tribute to his training manager John Livingstone and the six full-time training staff “who work very hard in delivering excellence”. The SAMB board and Scottish Bakery Training Council, the national training organisation, have agreed to provide £50,000 each towards setting up the training centre.However, equipment is much needed and Keith Stalker of supplier EPP was thanked at the conference for offering to donate a two-pocket roll plant, which has a value in excess of £25,000. All other offers of equipment or ingredients would be welcomed, said Rayer.New presidentThe new SAMB president, who takes office immediately, is John Chalmers, MD of Chalmers of Bucksburn, Aberdeenshire, with 14 bakery shops and two restaurants. Chalmers worked in the bakery and shops at weekends and during school holidays before commencing his apprenticeship. He became a member of the 40 Group in 1980 and served as Chairman in 1990/92.In 1993 he succeeded his father Ron as Chalmers’ MD and also served on the SAMB Executive Council while Chairman of Region 2 from 1993/95.In 1998 John was elected Deacon of the Aberdeen Bakery Incorporation. He said: “I feel I come from a family which has flour in its blood! My father, Ron, was President in 1976/77 and I am very proud to fill the same position in 2006.”Minimum wageAndre Sarafilovic, convenor of the industrial relations committee, said that a 5.9% rise in the minimum wage this year had brought increases over three years to 18%. John Murray, the outgoing President, said although many companies were affected by the increases, particularly on the issue of differentials, others were quite happy to pay the minimum wage and it was not right that bakery should be seen as a low pay industry.Technical lowdownSTAN SMITH, convenor of the technical committee, defined the areas on which the Food Standards Agency is consulting in Scotland. He said that claims about ‘low fat’ must mean 3% total fat or less. Members trying to reduce trans fatty acids should be aware that it increases the levels of saturated fats. Labelling is still in consultation while school meals, which had been trialled with lower fats, salt and sugar, had resulted in lower energy levels, so new combinations are being looked at. There are concerns that if folic acid is added to flour it will add weight to the argument that all nutrients added to flour should be declared on the label. Sound financesIan Hay, SAMB Treasurer and Kirk Hunter, chief executive, have put the association on a sound financial footing. The net worth of the SAMB is now approximately £1.2m. This has been achieved by a decade of careful financial management and the development of the training department as a source of income.40 GroupIan McGhee, President of SAMB 40 Group for members under 40 years old, looked back over a successful year which included a bakery trip to Canada, centred mainly on Vancouver. The 40 Group also hosted a Chinese banquet at Food & Bake, Birmingham NEC, and increased committee members to 13. The 40 Group will celebrate its Golden Jubilee this year with a function in September. Ian handed over presidency of the 40 Group to Brian Sarafilovic.
T he Sector Skills Council Improve recently embarked on a drive to attract new talent into the baking industry by rationalising the training courses on offer to ensure they are vocationally led. The campaign is targeted at delivering a 35% increase in enrolments to bakery courses across the UK and will go some way to addressing the current issues of an ageing workforce and the impending skills shortage.However, work within the baking industry is not seen by many looking to enter the food sector as one of the more sexy areas in which to develop a career.Although Improve’s initiatives are a step in the right direction, they become redundant unless 16-18-year-olds are aware of what’s on offer. The question is, what does the baking industry need to do to become more fashionable?consistent profileWe need to ensure that a consistent profile is maintained throughout the media and enterprise to continually stimulate and attract new talent.Manufacturers, retailers, and other leading bakery bodies, need to work together to promote the benefits of developing a career in bakery as opposed to elsewhere in the food industry.There needs to be better educa-tion in schools and universities about what the industry can offer.There needs to be engagement with experts in recruitment and human resources to fully understand the needs and desires of those looking to develop a career within the food sector.And there needs to be a coordinated media campaign to promote bakery as an exciting industry with varied career prospects.Media discussion, outside the trade publications, has already been driven by a growing focus on healthy eating trends, which has involved debate around bakery products.To capitalise on this interest, the industry needs a figurehead who can act as its champion and elevate its profile. Jamie Oliver’s advertising campaign on behalf of Sainsbury’s, which showcases healthy eating and the importance of a good, well-balanced diet, is a great example of how a high-profile figurehead, combined with a forward-thinking retail organisation, can challenge conventional thinking on every-day products.This is the sort of formula that could be adopted by large bakery organisations in a way that could stimulate interest in the category and make it more appealing as a choice of career.Dan Lepard, who is already something of a figurehead and currently at the forefront of a British bread revival, has already taken steps to change the image of bakers. His proposals to replace the traditional bakery uniform with something ’cooler’ are a recent example of a positive move towards media-friendly innovation that will be sure to appeal to a younger audience.government commitmentFor any of these measures to be effective, it is vitally important that the government makes a commit-ment to raising the profile of bakery from an early age through integra- tion in the educational agenda. Equally, a commitment must be shown from government enterprise bodies to support the regional development and sustainability of bakeries of all sizes.Bakery governing bodies and influential industry figureheads must be relentless in campaigning to achieve these goals, as the suc-cess of this agenda will ultimately determine the future for the next generation of bakers. We must act now to ensure the baking industry continues to prosper. n
Food From Britain (FFB) is advising British bakery retailers to look to Russia as a source of “tremendous opportunity”.As Moscow is due to host this year’s national World Bread Day in October 16, FFB is organising a Russian Trade Development Visit to introduce British food and drink producers to the “high-potential market” and help them identify strategies to enter or grow their presence in Russia.Food retail sales have been rising by 25.5% in 2006 to $141 billion, says FFB, and bakery sales have been increasing at a minimum rate of about 5% year-on-year.According to FFB, the growth of the Russian middle class is a significant reason for international interest in the country. It said in a statement: “The middle class have considerable disposable income, which they are increasingly keen to spend on Western brands.”Whatever disturbances are occurring in higher diplomatic circles, these consumers’ incomes continue to grow, presenting a great opportunity for British food producers.”The trip is due to take place over four days in Moscow from 17-20 September. Participants will be introduced to the Russian market through store visits and a market briefing, and will have the opportunity to meet with buyers and distributors. The visit is timed to coincide with the World Food Exhibition in Moscow, which is the largest food show in Russia.In 2006, the exhibition was attended by 1,273 companies from 54 countries. International exhibitors came from 21 different countries including Argentina, China, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, Poland, the UK and the USA.
Bakery retailers are increasingly turning to thaw-and-serve and bake-off goods to complement their own baked-from-scratch goods. This adds value with more upmarket offerings, helps diversification and enables bakers to accommodate an ever-more-discerning population hell-bent on premium novelties. Or as Arnaud Rannou of Traiteur de Paris succinctly puts it: “Bakers receive our products frozen and repack them in posh boxes.”Although only a small proportion of this French firm’s UK business comes through selling into the high street – the rest being in foodservice – its export director believes that more bakers are now willing to consider buying in top-end fare, such as Traiteur’s thaw-and-serve petit-fours, in order to stand out as specialists.”I definitely see this area developing,” says Rannou. “This enables the baker to offer or propose to their customers a fine line of petit-fours without having to go to the trouble of making them. People are looking for more sophisticated products in the UK than used to be the case.”Traiteur also supplies thaw-and-serve savoury and sweet muffins. “The desserts area has not been developed fully and there is further potential for growth there,” says Rannou. “We may yet see higher-quality desserts at higher prices, as we’ve seen happen with coffee. This trend has been evident in what I call ’specialised bakeries’, such as Costa Coffee and Starbucks, but has yet to spread to mainstream bakeries.”He predicts this will change, especially with chains like French bakery Paul gaining ground.Traiteur de Paris, meanwhile, is a ¤30m business with around 8% of that now in the UK. The company is on the lookout for major chains in the UK involved in the frozen supply chain to develop bespoke products.Rannou says: “You often have fewer additives in frozen products than so-called fresh or chilled products. We create a high-quality product using a combination of the industrial process and the handmade approach.”Thaw-and-serve finishedValue outstripping volume growth across the bakery market is indicative of a healthy upper end in bakery, and is providing an opportunity for thaw-and-serve products.”As an industry, we must make this message very clear,” says Maggie Dagostino, marketing director of Dawn Foods. Given longer trading hours and greater availability of products with less chance of wastage, Dagostino believes that, “a frozen product that can be defrosted to order is a good service solution.”Although consumers want good-quality products and choices, innovation in thaw-and-serve has been limited compared to the chilled sector, says Dagostino. But while consumers are willing to try new things, they also display the caution that comes with long-formed habits.”The urge to experiment is tempered by the risk of disappointment, so it’s very much ’evolution, not revolution’ when it comes to getting customers to try new products,” says Dagostino.Focusing solely on the high-street bakery market is the Danish Cake Company, which made its UK debut in September with a limited range of bake-off pastry bases and laminated rolls. It hopes to extend the range as it secures distribution. Products are supplied frozen from a factory in Denmark and it also has the services of a bakery in London to provide finished baked-off goods.Four Danish bakers set up the firm to make pastries and laminated rolls for their own shops after failing to find enough skilled staff between them. This freed up capacity to begin exporting. “We’re targeting bakers,” says owner Bjarne Nielsen. “They have the same challenges in the UK as in Denmark.”The aim was to provide a product “produced the traditional way, but in a factory”. The lamination process is by hand while the cutting/rolling takes place on a factory line. “Many of our rivals’ products come pre-proved and frozen,” says Nielsen. “Our crown is empty for bakers to fill and personalise in any way they want.”He also believes the products have a longer shelf-life because they are supplied as a solid, frozen mass, so don’t dry out quickly. “Anyone can bake a pre-proved product, but ours requires a little skill to fill and bake. It needs to thaw for three hours, which requires pre-planning, but when you taste the flavour and quality, that’s when you realise it’s worthwhile.” >>Healthy-style finishingFresh fruit fillings, inclusions and toppings could help tap into the trend for “healthy indulgence”. Kate Raison, marketing director at Bakehouse, says: “On the face of it, the two concepts clash, but you could, for example, include larger, fresh-fruit pieces to deliver ’healthier-style’ products.”On the finished goods front, Bakehouse has introduced a Superfruits Booster Bar and a Honey & Hazelnut Booster Bar, which count as one of the five-fruits-a-day, and are sold loose. They are bread-based, low in saturated fats, high in fibre and high in antioxidants. Raison believes there is room to carry on developing healthier breads with seeds, fruits, nuts and longer fermentation.functional trendMeanwhile, functional breads are emerging into the bake-off sector with the launch of the i-Bread Functional range from Cotswold Food Partnership (CFP). Initially the range will feature four varieties, available frozen or part-baked for bake-off as well as in pre-mixes. They include a light, multigrain bread enriched with Omega 3 and linseed; a white bread with the nutritional value of wholemeal and a multigrain loaf with dietary fibre inulin, designed to assist the digestive system and a healthy heart bread, developed in association with the Dutch Heart Foundation.”Functional foods are established,” says CFP director Mark Rooza. “We call i-Bread ’intelligent food’ – concentrating on flavour as well as function can have a major impact on sales.” The breads will be distributed by Kluman & Balter.Speciality and niche bread offerings are also working for bake-off specialist Mantinga, which is championing the deli and farm shops market. “There is a continual demand for speciality breads in all sectors, be it large or small retailers,” says managing director Steven Mackintosh. “This is a customer base we’ve been serving very well.”Mackintosh has high hopes for the newly launched Pür-et-nü range (translates as ’pure and naked’), which will add to the 40 products already launched this year. This is a line of “natural breads”, sandwich carriers and rolls that use only basic organic bread ingredients.”We’re looking to bring out ranges rather than one-offs,” he says. “A lot of positioning in coffee shop-type concepts is about ’natural’ and ’no additives’.”Our bakery customers are either moving to a coffee concept to hold people in the premises, or trying to cut staff levels and do bake-off. It’s a constantly changing environment.” n—-=== Consumer watch ===The frequency of eating and drinking on-the-go is increasingly determined by the hectic lives that modern consumers lead.Shoppers in the UK have the highest number of on-the-go food and drink occasions per person, per year in Europe, at 338 (see table below), which Datamonitor defines as follows: “On-the-go consumption occurs when consumers are engaged in other activities or in environments that are not particularly suited to food or drink consumption.”It occurs in one of three contexts: while on-the-move, while multi-tasking, or while taking part in leisure activities.”
Shoppers are increasingly confident about the food they eat, according to a Food Standards Agency (FSA) survey, which found people are less concerned about issues such as additives, food poisoning and GM foods.The eighth annual Consumer Attitudes to Food Survey found that, since 2006, the percentage of people concerned about additives had fallen from 38% to 35%. Those worried about food poisoning fell from 42% to 36%, while concerns about GM foods were down from 25% to 20%.The survey also found food labels remain important to shoppers looking for a range of information, such as allergy advice and additives. Half of respondents said they check labelling information when buying food, and almost half did not know the difference between ’use by’ and ’sell by’ dates on food.More than three-quarters (78%) of consumers are now aware that we should be eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day, also an improvement on last year, and 58% claimed to be putting this into practice.The amounts of fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar in foods are still the main issues of concern among consumers. The quantities of fat and salt are the most commonly checked nutritional information on labels in the UK. But the percentage of people concerned about these is slightly down since 2006 – down to 40% from 46% for fat and to 50% from 54% for salt.
== Best of times ==It’s good news for those hiking Everest as there’s now a bakery at base camp, 5,350 metres up the mountain, where explorers can feast on the likes of chocolate cookies, doughnuts, banana bread and apple pie to keep their spirits up… Brazilian bakers should benefit from their government’s decision to suspend sales tax on wheat.== Worst of times ==Shoppers in Cyprus are set to see another increase in the price of bread and bakery products. Bakers have been forced to up prices to compensate for rising raw ingredients costs… The owner of the oldest bakery on Aboriginal land in Australia’s Northern Territory faces closure. The owner’s attempts to get quarantined welfare from the government may be too late to save the ailing business.
Coffee Republic’s holding company, Coffee Republic plc, has gone into administration follo-wing the closure of 10 out of the 20 Coffee Republic (UK) Ltd-owned stores, which has resulted in 66 redundancies.The failure of the holding company comes after its subsidiaries – Coffee Republic (UK), Coffee Republic Franchising and Goodbean – went into administration on 6 July, with administrator KPMG Restructuring moving quickly to close the 10 shops. A company-owned store in Glou-cester Road, London, was also closed shortly before the administrators were appointed.KPMG said it was “confident of a sale this week”, and it has been reported that it has received over 120 expressions of interest for the business or parts of it.Among those rumoured to be interested in the chain are former chief executive and current non-executive director Steven Bartlett, as well as executive chairman Peter Breach.The chain’s nine remaining company-owned stores are trading as normal, as are its 70 franchised stores, along with 97 concessions that are not in administration. Industry sources said Coffee Republic was still honouring its contracts with bakery suppliers, although store closures would hit volumes.Richard Hill, KPMG partner and joint administrator, said the stores that were closed were “no longer viable”. “We are in discussions with interested parties with a view to selling the remaining business as a going concern,” he said. “There has been huge interest from potential purchasers.”
Leicestershire-based Geary’s Bakeries is to relocate to a new site and double production of its loaves, following a £1m investment.Joint managing director Tony Marriott told British Baker that Geary’s hopes to be up and running at its new bakery, in Barrow upon Soar, by the end of March 2010. “The company is reloca-ting from its original site in Ratby where it has been for 104 years,” he said. The move is due to the increasing logistical difficulties of, for example, getting supplies, such as flour silo deliveries to the bakery, which is currently located in the centre of a village. “It’s also now a very old building,” said Marriott.The move will enable the bakery to ramp up its production. “We currently produce around 700-800,000 speciality rolls a week and about 50,000 loaves a week and we are expecting to be able to produce 100,000 loaves a week,” he said.The firm has been working on getting the new site ready since June last year, including extensions to the building. The new bakery, based in Hayhill Industrial Estate, is only 10 miles from the old site, but was not previously a bakery, so there has been a lot of work involved, explained Marriott. “Travelling ovens are being put in at the moment, and the provers are already in,” he added.Geary’s had been looking for a suitable site for about three years. Marriott said it had been important to find one close to the original bakery, so that the existing staff could easily move with the firm.The bakery employs around 70 staff at present, but Marriott said there are hopes to employ around 110 staff when the new site is fully up and running.Geary’s predominantly produces bread and rolls for major retailers and sandwich pro-ducers, including Samworth Brothers and Uniq.
Vandemoortele buyVandemoortele has struck a deal to take over margarine and frying fats activities from Dutch company Van Dijk Food Products part of the EFS Group. “With this move, Vandemoortele is pursuing its strategy aimed at focusing on further growth of its two main activities namely margarine and frying fats on one side, and deep-freeze bakery products on the other side,” said CEO Jean Vandemoortele.Delice’s POS driveDelice de France is launching a new Bread of the Month promotion for independent shops, offering discounts on the new Tiger Demi Baguette, Tear & Share Bouchon (four Bouchon-sized rolls baked together), and Steak Roll during June and July. Stores will also get a point-of-sale pack to drive sales, including five tent cards, two wobblers and two A3 posters.Community workA community share offer, launched earlier this month, plans to raise £190,000-worth of funding for the Real Food Store, due to open in October at a 2,400sq ft, three-storey site in Exeter city centre and funded entirely with investment from the local community. A 300sq ft open bakery, leased to local company Emma’s Bread, will be a key feature of the new community-owned enterprise, supplying the shop and the café with bread, cakes and pastries.Retail display bookThe Shopfitting and Display Equipment Association has published the latest edition of its retail display directory, which contains 32 new specialist suppliers this year. There is also a section that analyses store interiors. The publishers are giving away a free copy to the first 50 BB readers who request one on 01883 348911 or email [email protected]
SA committed to small businessesFollowing your article ’Stifling the grass roots’ (BB 16 July), I would like to point out that The Soil Association is thoroughly committed to encouraging small businesses to go organic, but we cannot relax our standards which are, like all UK organic standards, governed by EU regulation and have been developed with the interest of consumers at heart. The plan to develop a system more appropriate to business’ size and scale, as referred to in the article, is not possible until DEFRA and the EU adjust their standards accordingly. While the Soil Association has been lobbying for this it looks unlikely in the near future but we will continue to try.Although other certifiers may have a lower application fee, the Soil Association offers unprecedented services and does not charge additional costs throughout the licensing year. Our Trade Support team offers sourcing support, technical guidance, reduced cost stand space at national events and business opportunities throughout the year. We are happy to visit any size of business free of charge to talk through the requirements of certification and the likely impact in terms of administration and changes to systems.The Soil Association is a not-for-profit certification body and charity the only organic certifier to put 100% financial surplus back into the organic movement rather than to shareholders. We do not charge £75 per recipe, as suggested by one interviewee in the article. Our campaigning work on issues that really matter to the organic industry are having fantastic results in educating the public and consumers about the benefits of organic production.During the last two years, the availability of choice of organic bread and bakery products has diminished within supermarkets. It is difficult to find an organic baguette or loaf and, often, these are the products which sell out quickly, but are not replenished. This has more of a fundamental impact on the growth of organic bakery sector than any other factor.James Kightley, Trade relations manager, Soil AssociationTackling the problems head-onHaving read your piece by Helen Gregory on organic certification seeming to be prohibitively challenging and costly for small bakers (’Stifling the grass roots?’, BB July 16), Organic Farmers & Growers is taking steps to address the points raised in the article about the prohibitive costs and complex paperwork associated with organics.We are convinced that entry into organic certification need not be prohibitively costly and complex for small bakeries. To that end, we have decided to introduce a subsidised fee of just £400pa for bakeries with an organic turnover of up to £50,000pa, which we will guarantee for two years, with only a modest price increase after that. This is at our own expense, but we are convinced that the UK arable, milling and bakery industries must be protected and promoted.There is no reason why people should be put under pressure by the paperwork involved. Organisation is key, which is why we create pro-forma documents and other tools to make it as simple as we can. There is no excuse for adding complexity to the process for the sake of it and we were distressed to hear that businesses which should be contributing to the growth of organics were being put off taking that step. We will not charge for changes to recipes or new products being added to the certificate and we make available a direct debit scheme to allow payments to be spread through the year.While Organic Farmers & Growers is rigorous in the application of the certification standards, we pride ourselves on having the practical touch, employing only industry-experienced certification staff.I would urge any small baker who harbours concerns about organic certification to talk to us and hope we can assist many of them to join UK organics. More information is available at www.organicfarmers.org.uk.Richard Jacobs, Chief executive, Organic Farmers & Growers