Waitrose is offering British bakers the last chance to enter its fifth annual Waitrose Small Producers Awards, by its deadline of March 3. The accolades, which celebrate the best in British food, have eight categories, with each winner receiving a £5,000 prize. The Supreme Champion wins a total of £10,000. The awards are open to any producer, who employs no more than 10 permanent full- or part-time employees and has a turnover of less than £1.5 million a year. There are six product categories including bakery and the best independent food shop.To obtain entry forms, write to: Small Producers Awards, Waitrose Press Office, Doncastle Road, Bracknell, Berkshire RG12 8YA; email: [email protected]; tel: 01344 824172; or go to www.waitrose.com/smallproducers.
The Peebles Hydro Hotel was the setting for the Scottish Association of Master Bakers’ (SAMB) ‘James Scott’ technical sessions, held on 29 May. Presentations ranged from the art of pulled sugar modelling to staff recruitment and new bakery investment. In the first session, Ian McInally, lecturer in catering studies from the department of food at Glasgow Metropolitan College, gave a short description of pulled sugar and its range of applications. He also gave several demonstrations, including finishing off a basket of fruit with further pieces of ‘blown’ sugar fruit, a pulled sugar ribbon and some pulled sugar flowers. In addition, he constructed a swan and added it to a display of orchids on a piece of driftwood.Canada tripThe SAMB’s 40 Group study tour to Vancouver, which took place in October last year, was the subject of the second session. Campbell’s Bakery’s Iain Campbell described the group’s trip, which included bakery visits and social events in Vancouver, the culmination of 18 months planning.JobCentre Plus external relationship manager Linda Prattis gave delegates advice on staff recruitment in the third session of the day, including how to make job application form layouts and advertisements more appealing and how local job centres can help with sourcing new employees. She also touched on the funding available for employing certain classes of unemployed people and the employment of people with disabilities.Moving storiesIn the day’s final session, Gordon McGhee of McGhee’s Bakery in Glasgow; George Stevenson of Mathiesons, Falkirk; Alan Stuart of Stuarts of Buckhaven; and Alan Marr of Aulds (Food), Inchinnan, participated in a session entitled ‘We Invested in New Bakeries’. McGhee and Stuart described how they found sites, planned and built from scratch bakeries to suit their individual product range, volume, production and distribution requirements. Stevenson described how Mathiesons sourced a suitable existing building and discussed the pros and cons of converting it into a bakery to meet all its storage, production quality control, distribution and food safety requirements. And Marr discussed the fire that completely destroyed its desserts facility in Inchinnan, and the speed at which it resumed production in temporary premises. Within eight weeks, the company had constructed a 25,000sq ft semi-permanent, fully air-conditioned factory at Inchinnan.
Allied Bakeries has almost ruled out sabotage on its production line after glass and needles were found in Kingsmill loaves.Three contaminated loaves have been reported in the last fortnight, although the objects were discovered inside the packaging rather than the bread itself.Allied has DNA-tested the 300 staff at its Orpington plant, where a police investigation is focused. Security has been stepped up, with staff restricted to certain areas and CCTV cameras installed.Said a spokeswoman: “We’re still not sure where contamination is taking place but we think it’s not on the production line.”Consumers found fragments of glass, sewing needles, chewing gum and plastic in packs of sliced bread produced at the Orpington site in July 2005, and then again in September that year. This prompted a police investigation into the contamination.Allied Bakeries is working closely with the Food Standards Agency and the police on the latest investigation. The spokeswoman added: “We take consumer safety very seriously and continue to take all necessary action to ensure our products are safe.”She urged consumers to be cautious and report any problems to the company careline.
n Sandwich chain Pret A Manger has revealed it is considering floating on the stock exchange within 18 months.n Supermarket Morrisons is planning a £450m rebranding, starting in July, with yellow and green replacing its yellow and black corporate colours.n Whitbread this week reported a 24.5% increase in profits, after strong performances at its Costa and Premier Travel Inn divisions. Pre-tax profits for the year to March 1 were £213m.n Burton’s Foods, makers of Jammy Dodgers, has submitted plans for a 2,658sq m extension to its bakery in Edinburgh.n McDonald’s has reported an 11% rise in sales to $5.4bn (£2.69bn) for the first quarter to 31 March.n Coffee chain Caffè Nero is placed number 18 in The Sunday Times Profit Track 100 list of Britain’s private firms with the fastest-growing profits. Profits have grown 77% a year from £1.6m in 2003 to £9.1m last year, and the firm plans to expand the number of British outlets from 300 to 450 by 2010.n Juice bar chain Crussh plans to open four more outlets in the UK by the end of the year. The 16-strong snack chain also sells sushi, sandwiches and soup.n Packaging firm Jordan Plastics, whose clients include Allied Bakeries Ireland, has increased production 50% after a £1m move to a 40,000sq ft plant.n Waitrose managing director Steve Esom is leaving after 11 years, tipped to join Marks & Spencer. Mark Price will be the new Waitrose MD from April 30.
Metfield Bakery uses meat reared on owner Stuart Oetzmann’s own farm to make its lauded pork pies – with the pigs also performing the dual role of handy waste disposal unit, gobbling up the bakery’s leftover bread and vegetables. If mud, pig-like sanitary conditions and hungry, whiffy creatures are your thing too, you could join the 85,000 revellers at this summer’s Download rock festival, or the gargantuan 150,000-capacity Bestival festival on the Isle of White, who will be fed by Metfield’s new travelling bakery.The former wholesale-only bakery will be taking to the road this summer as it branches out into retailing, following successes with markets and online sales. The Dereham-based firm recently designed and commissioned a working mobile organic bakery – a big trailer with a three-deck Mono oven, a spiral mixer, mains pressure hot water and refrigeration – which will also be scooting around local events, horse trials and agricultural shows.The prospect of live bakery theatre has clearly sparked the imagination of event organisers, with Metfield signed up to 20 already. And the projected £100,000 extra sales should easily recoup the branded trailer’s £27,000 price tag within the year. “The fact that we’re probably one of the only people in the country that can pitch up with a mobile organic bakery unlocks plenty of doors for us,” says Oetzmann. “There’s good volume turnover in taking your business to 20,000-200,000 customers on a weekend.”It trialled the concept last year, transporting a generator and the bakery’s own oven to one event – at great cost. The main attraction is the sourdough bread, just three-to-four types of which are baked on the trailer. “Because we have long fermentation times we have more control; we can make it up on a Thursday night and bake it on the Saturday morning,” says Oetzmann.The Norfolk-born ex-chef has a track record of working with big names, including Anthony Worrall Thompson and the Roux Brothers, but is now a-self proclaimed baker. “I’ve converted to being a baker, for sure,” he says. “There are some really good pastry chefs who are passionate about using great ingredients – they’re now discovering bread and making their own personal journeys with it.”Oetzmann’s own journey began in the early 1990s after taking inspiration from 18th-century authors, including Eliza Acton, Hannah Glasse and Elizabeth David. Six years ago, he started his own business with the aim of reviving bygone British baking traditions. He now employs 23 people and turns over £1m.His sourdough starter – a barm, that’s seeded using brewers’ yeast, and fed with rye flour – is used to make 5,000 loaves a week. With sourdough, costs are low and margins high, he insists. “We don’t have to buy in much yeast and we don’t use additives or fats to achieve the kind of textures that bakers years ago would have achieved anyway.” Apart from bread, Metfield makes a series of traditional English tarts, cakes and puddings, including Eccles cakes and the hugely popular – if not entirely lardy – Lardy cake, made with 50% butter. n
n Paul Wilkinson, former executive chairman of RHM Foods, has been appointed a non-executive director of Fengrain, a grain co-operative in the Eastern Counties.n Irwin’s Nutty Krust batch bread has been nominated Northern Ireland’s best-loved product, beating local brands such as Tayto to rank number one in a vote by Tesco customers across the province. Nutty Krust now accounts for over half of all batch bread sold in NI.n Equipment supplier Creeds and the National Association of Master Bakers have become the latest exhibitors to sign up for the Baking Industry Exhibition in April 2008 at Birmingham’s NEC.n Catering supplier Brakes picked up eight trophies for new products at the British Frozen Food Federation 2007 Annual Awards, including Best New Bakery/Pastries Product for its Premiere Focaccia and Best New Dessert/Ice Cream/Confectionery Product for its Tray of Profiteroles & Chocolate Mousse.n Zedz Foods, which specialises in ’free-from’ snacks and treats is already taking orders for Christmas. The Powys-based company is taking part in True Food Marketing’s Celtic Recipes Programme, designed to help Welsh food producers improve their marketing and sales skills.n The Flour Advisory Bureau is working with HGCA on an updated education website and programme – The Grain Chain – which will be launched in early September. This will feature interactive information in line with the curriculum requirements for key stages two and three.
The Master of the Worshipful Company of Bakers, Anthony Greenwood, welcomed more than 180 guests to a Charity Ladies Banquet at London’s Goldsmiths Hall on 14 June.The beautiful gold on display for the event was complemented by 360 individually lit candles set in chandeliers. The charity for the evening was the Bakers Benevolent Society (BBS), for which monies are still coming in. VIP guests included Ueli Slumpf and his wife from the Swiss Guild of Bakers. Robert Rich, chairman of Rich products, flew over from the US specially for the occasion.
“Against the background of a recession and acute financial problems, I would like to see a radical change in attitude within the banking industry towards bakers in particular. A greater understanding of the problems faced by bakers and a greater willingness to lend are needed, and I hope the many good businesses that are having problems with loans, for example, will be able to get these issues sorted out quickly.”Within the marketplace, I hope that bakers will continue to make progress and that we continue to see profitable bakeries across the country.”I hope the Food Standards Agency will work constructively with the baking industry in Scotland and be a bit more pragmatic and realistic about some of the issues bakers face.”I also hope that, as we’re facing a chronic skills shortage issues in Scotland, bakers will understand that, for their future and the industry’s future, it is important to have a proper investment in skills and the SAMB has an important role in this. We need to make sure the proper infrastructure is in place to work with people to achieve these skills.”In a sense we’re lucky, as people will never stop eating, so if we get our acts together, make the most of opportunities and are creative and efficient, then the industry will be OK.”
Newcastle-based craft baker Ian Thomson has been appointed chairman of the steering group for the proposed bakery arm of the National Skills Academy, replacing outgoing chair Dave Brooks, former MD of Finsbury Foods. Funding for the academy’s pilot foundation course, due to launch in March, has also been agreed. Thomson runs a wholesale bakery and shop in Westerhope.== Jamie deal for Meg ==Online cake company Meg Rivers has secured a deal to supply traybakes to Jamie Oliver’s new Jme-branded line of food, homeware and gifts. Launched just before Christmas, the range is sold via the celebrity chef’s website. Meg Rivers began supplying the range with Chistmas puddings and cakes, before moving on to flapjacks and ginger and chocolate brownies from January.== Waste commitment ==Bakery companies United Biscuits and Warburtons are among dozens of food retailers and manufacturers that have now signed the Courtauld Commitment, to help encourage consumers to reduce food packaging. The initiative, led by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), aims to cut food waste by 155,000 tonnes per year (compared to 2008). WRAP has identified that bakery products account for 20% of total food waste.== Tax deferral ==HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) recently-launched Business Payment Support Service (BPSS) has already enabled 25,000 businesses to delay paying more than £429m worth of tax, according to the government. Launched in November 2008, the service allows firms to pay their HMRC taxes through timetables they can afford. For details call the BPSS on 0845 302 1435.== NSA chair named ==
Only 3% of 16-18-year-olds in Northern Ireland are interested in a career in the food and drink industry, according to research from food and drink sector skills council Improve. “The food and drink industry is currently worth £3bn a year to the NI economy and 6,000 new staff are required in the country by 2017,” said chief executive Jack Matthews. “This research shows the urgent need to alter perceptions and educate students about the benefits of a career in the sector.” Over 990 companies have signed up to exhibit at the IBA trade show, from 3 to 9 October 2009 in Düsseldorf. Greener, more efficient baking equipment and coffee are expected to be key focuses for the exhibition. == Asda’s fleet focus == == IBA exhibitors == == Heart health concern == Brits are still not doing enough to improve their heart health, says Datamonitor in a new report. In 2008, only a third of people in the UK told Datamonitor that they pay a ’high’ or ’very high’ amount of attention to their heart health. More than a quarter (29%) admitted that they only pay a ’low’ or ’very low’ amount of attention to the issue. == Dearth of youngsters for food roles in NI == == Irwin’s rebrand boost == Asda is reducing its transport costs and aims to reduce its fleet’s emissions by 40%. New software will allow for more efficient route planning and use of its fleets and drivers. Northern Irish bakery Irwin’s is to launch a TV advert to mark the culmination of an 18-month rebranding exercise, representing an investment equivalent to £2m nationally. The 40-second advert will launch on screens across Northern Ireland this month.