A new plastic conveyor belt has been added to Starfrost’s (York) freezing and chilling equipment range. Sourced from supply partner Ashworth, the belt has an all-plastic contact surface to give good product release and easy hygiene. It is suitable for spiral and straight tunnel freezers. The Advantage belt combines blue plastic (acetal) links and body modules with metal rods for strength – it can handle tension loads of up to 1,500lbs. Available in standard widths from 203mm to 1,524mm, the belt features a patented rod locking system for easy installation and repair. Dave Pearson, director, says Starfrost’s systems concentrated on vertical airflow, as this helps make the freezer 20% more compact than horizontal airflow. The focus, he adds, is on maximising the efficiency of freezing systems and reducing customers’ running costs.
In the second of the new-look, new-size British Baker we celebrate the industry’s premier annual awards night and the worthy winners (pgs 20-27). The night itself was fun and I’d like to say a big “well done” to all the winners and finalists and a huge “thank you” to all the sponsors that support the industry, as well as the independent judges who gave their time voluntarily.In the coming weeks and months, we shall be looking at what makes a winner and asking some of the independent judges just what makes some entries stand out. Why? Because excellence and innovation drive any business.About three years ago, I remember that some of us were quite staggered at the level of loan patissier and chocolatier John Slattery, aged over 50, had taken out on a completely derelict Victorian pub. But excellence and innovation have turned it into a fabulous, thriving, profitable business that is a “destination” for those in the Manchester area. And it is now turning out the next generation of award winners, as we saw last week with Slattery’s young Karen Bowden winning celebration Cake Maker of the Year, sponsored by Renshaw.It was also good to see a new award for the plant sector, sponsored by Zeelandia. Many bread and cake plants will be supplying Asda with a number of their new ranges (pg 4) and Asda’s level of innovation sounds phenomenal. Recently, I was speaking with two craft bakers, who agreed with each other that they made some slow-selling favourites “because we have always made them”. But it is worth keeping a close eye on the supermarkets. They positively drive innovation for one reason only: they know it creates sales.Excellence and innovation were also two things close to the heart of Chris Parr, Warburtons’ technical director, who died two weeks ago. I enjoyed debate with Chris over salt levels and saw him at many conferences. His enthusiasm rubbed off on everyone. He was passionate, dedicated and thoroughly professional. Chris’ wife sadly died about three years ago, but I hope his children, friends and colleagues will take comfort from the tributes on pages 14-15.Finally, if you are wondering what more you personally might give to the world of baking, do read Kevin Barke’s fine example of working in a war zone bakery (pgs 16-18). It sounds a trip to remember!
Coca-Cola has announced the winners of a prize draw competition it ran at the recent Bakers’ Fair North West on Sunday, 14 October.First prize was £1,000 worth of shopping vouchers, which were won by Karen Borg from Roch-dale, Lancashire.Angela Thompson from Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, and Stephen Rowland from Atherton, Lancashire, were the two runners-up and both won £250-worth of shopping vouchers. At the fair, held at the Bolton Arena, the company also gave away free bottles of Coca-Cola.The one-day regional event, organised by British Baker and Bake & Take, brought together millers, ingredients manufacturers, machinery suppliers, wholesalers and drinks companies.
The future of Patisserie UK’s place within Lees Foods’ group of companies has been put into question by directors, following a “disappointing” performance in 2008.According to a trading update, Patisserie UK suffered due to the loss of “a major customer” last year. Directors were said to be considering Patisserie UK’s future within the Lees Group and will make an announcement regarding its future in due course.Patisserie UK was formed in 1994 and is a bespoke manufacturer of coffee shop round cakes, loaf and tray cakes, desserts and biscuits.Meanwhile, the group’s other subsidiaries – Lees of Scotland and Waverley Bakery – achieved record sales turnover last year. The Scotland-based confectionery and cake manufacturers’ trading update for the year, ended 31 December, stated sales for Waverley Bakery and Lees of Scotland were “in line with expectations”. However, its net profit was down due to the administration of Woolworths in the UK. “We have had to make a full provision for a bad debt, the net effect of which is £69,000,” read the statement.The company said the group continues to have strong cash flow generation, due to a reduction in net bank debt from the previous year.
British Baker is delighted to announce the finalists for this year’s Baking Industry Awards. The 1930s-themed event, on Tuesday 8 September at the Park Lane Hilton in London, will be hosted by much-loved comedian Ronnie Corbett.On judging the Baker of the Year award, sponsored by Vande-moortele, Stephen Bickmore, UK commercial manager of the firm’s lipids division, said: “There were a variety of entries – from small and large bakeries, industrial and craft, making it very interesting.”Book your place at the industry’s key event. Tickets are £195 + VAT each, or £1,895 + VAT for tables of 10. Contact [email protected] or call 01293 846593.l Judging for Bakery Food Manufacturer of the Year, sponsored by ADM Milling, is ongoing. Finalists will be announced soon.
Jon Goldstone, you terrible tease! A long, involved chat with the brand boss, sat in Hovis HQ in Windsor arranged to find out the secrets behind the bread’s recent runaway success gave no hint of the epoch-shifting announcement he would make a week later (a day after BB went to press): from January 2010, Hovis would be using 100% British wheat across its entire range. We caught up with Goldstone on his hands-free kit. “You kept that one quiet!” we exclaimed. “We were going to launch it in December, but we thought now would be a good time” he explains, hinting at an intriguing PR cat-and-mouse game, played out behind the scenes. Hovis was gearing up to announce the news next month, but caught wind that rival Warburtons was about to launch two all-British loaves using UK wheat. The Bolton baker played its card and Hovis’ PRs sprung into action to deftly grab the headlines by announcing its full-range UK wheat switch.”I’m glad it’s hit the headlines, because it is a big commitment for us to make. Every single product that has the name Hovis on it will be using 100% British wheat,” he says, when asked about stealing Warburtons’ thunder. “I think it is one of the most exciting and powerful things that we could have done as a brand.”Undoubtedly. Plant bakers have always blended lower-protein UK wheat with Canadian wheat wheat that could not previously be grown in our dismal climate. But, for five years, Hovis has been trialling a red wheat to match Canadian wheat quality in the UK. This equates to £18m of wheat that will now be bought from the 600 farmers already signed up. What’s more, there will be no change to the price of Hovis, despite the higher costs involved. How is that possible?”There is an on-cost,” admits Goldstone. “We’ve made a commitment not to increase our retail prices next year.”The move marks the culmination of a great year and a return to form for a brand that was in dire straits a year ago. From mid-2006 to October 2008, Hovis was in a worrying decline; Premier Foods was in the process of buying RHM, including Hovis a period during which brand investment slipped. Quality fell and marketing tailed off. At the same time, Warburtons’ rise appeared unstoppable.Hovis was relaunched in September 2008 with new recipes and packaging, updating its pack styling with a nod to its heritage and an award-winning TV and cinema ad campaign. “All of that, together with significant improvements in our relations with the grocery trade, drove a real step-up in volume,” says Goldstone. The company has now restored its market share to 2006 levels, around 28%, with a volume growth of 16.4% year on year in a market that declined 2% (October 4, IRI).Maintaining momentumThe last trading update from Premier noted a shift away from building volumes towards building the brand. How will this manifest itself? “For us it’s about maintaining momentum,” says Goldstone. “We had a horrible two-and-a-half years as a brand and, as a business, we’ve gone through a turnaround stage sorting out the basics getting our quality back, getting our communications back to the standard they should be, offering the right level of value for consumers. We’ve done the basics and we’ve benefited from that. The next phase for us will be sustaining responsible growth over the medium to long term through a blend of campaigns featuring our existing products and new launches.” Not that it’s all been plain-sailing: Goldstone admits that Hovis has found sustaining volumes in the rolls category tough. And the Nimble brand has dipped, due to people switching to one standard family loaf, he says. The retailers, of course, want to see volume return to the bread category rather than see the brands trading market share. The key battleground to achieving this will not be a brand bun fight, but weaning people off cereals by making them aware of the healthiness of bread, says Goldstone. “The really important thing is to shift the perception of the healthiness of bread,” he says. “At the moment it is not perceived to be any healthier than rice, pasta or potatoes. A big part of our role as a brand is to convince people that bread not just Hovis is a healthier category than they might otherwise perceive.” He points to consumer research: “If you ask people whether they agree with the statement ’This category is healthy’, around 60% will agree that breakfast cereals are healthy. That compares to around a quarter for bread. There is a massive perception issue, but when you look at the nutritional facts of two slices of bread relative to a bowl of cereal, on a lot of the measures, particularly sugar and sat fat content, there is a really strong case for bread.”Hovis has undergone a series of format-based health messages, such as The Wholemeal Challenge, which encouraged consumers to eat wholemeal and feel healthier or get their money back. Best of Both was relaunched with the message that two slices had the equivalent calcium of a glass of milk. And the Seeds Sensations range has been promoted, latterly in conjunction with the Poppy Appeal. As a result, he says, “42% of con-sumers strongly agree with the statement that Hovis is ’healthier than others’, compared to 19% for Warburtons and 14% on Kingsmill. That gap has really opened up over the last year.”Even so, studies have shown health has dropped behind practicality and convenience as one of the three so-called macro-drivers. Is that significant? “Those things can be so broad-brush that they become meaningless,” shrugs Goldstone. “Bread couldn’t be more practical or convenient and it’s good value. They’re such table stakes of the category that it’s a bit of a ’so what?’ Until the recession struck, you saw these big drivers of people looking for environmentally friendly, healthy and provenance. The recession blew over the top of that, so a lot of those trends felt like they went away. The reality is they are still there but morphing as you come out of a recession.” With Hovis closing in on Warburtons and buoyed by its UK wheat PR coup, are the eyes now on the prize of regaining the top spot? “They’re a tough competitor, a really good company with good products, and it would be completely wrong of us to say our ambition is to steal market share from them, because life doesn’t work out like that,” says Goldstone, showing respect for a resilient foe. “We’re much more interested in playing our own game and doing the right thing for our own consumers. We know that if we offer great quality, value and some innovation, the brand will grow. That has to be a good thing for the thousands of people who work for us and for Premier Foods as a group.”
The ovens and kitchen equipment belonging to Liskeard-based The Small Cake Company have been put up for sale ahead of the liquidation of the firm. The business, which specialised in cakes, quiches and fruit pies, is due to enter into liquidation on 23 December 2009 under the advice of insolvency practitioners, Richard J Smith & Co. An online auction of the firm’s assets is taking place until 14 December on bidspotter.com. Assets include bakers’ ovens, walk-in refrigeration units, mixers and a motor vehicle.For information on the sale, contact Jason Hall at Edward Symmons LLP on 01752 222 233.
Rowlett Rutland has launched the 250SR gravity belt-driven Electric Slicer, designed to make a perfect cut with minimum wastage.The slicer can be used for high volumes and is equipped with a built-in blade sharpener for uninterrupted use.The 250SR has a stain-resistant anodised aluminium finish, and is quick and easy to clean. The long-life blade is manufacturedin hollow ground tempered alloy steel and is unaffected by acids, salt or blood. There is also an optional Teflon coating for slicing cheese.The slicer fully complies with all CE regulations, and features safety guards and a no-voltage release button. It has a 0.35hp motor, and the 250mm diameter blade works at 300rpm. The cut thickness range of the unit is 0/16.
NAMB BUSINESS/SOCIAL WEEKEND 27-28 NOVEMBER 2010The NAMB is returning to the fantastic Menzies Welcombe Hotel and Spa in Stratford-Upon-Avon and is happy to announce that the hotel has held the very favourable rates they gave us for 2009.Sir Mike Darrington (formerly of Greggs) and Alette Addison from the Food Standards Agency (who headed up the salt project) will be our guest speakers on the Sunday morning. So do come along and participate.The hotel boasts comfortable lounges with log fires along with a 24-hour bar where bakers can put the industry and the world to rights! The old former mansion has a gym and state-of-the-art therapeutic pool (with snack bar) as well as a swimming pool. There will be something for everyone and, as Christmas is a family time, why not bring the kids?There are a limited number of rooms, so once the booking forms are sent out, you are advised to return them without delay. At £130 per person for dinner, bed, breakfast and lunch what are you waiting for?Put the date in the diary and we look forward to seeing you there.
The British Society of Baking (BSB) Autumn Conference is now taking bookings for the networking dinner on Monday 4 October, and conference on Tuesday 5 October.Speakers at the event include Ted Rich, of Rich Products, will speak about cakes from the world markets in which Rich’s operates. Roel Orselof, CSM, will present topics and trends for European bakery products and ingredients. Kevin Kingsland, chartered occupational psychologist will be giving a talk on effective people management, organisational development and business performance; Edward Garner, communications director, Kantar Worldpanel will look at the facts and figures in relation to grocery retail market’s economic recovery; and Tony Parsons, Parsons Design and Marketing, will be speaking about the Importance of Branding. There will also be a presentation from those representing Great Britain in the Louis Lesaffre World Cup. BSB chairman Keith Houliston said: “It would be great to see as many delegates as possible for the dinner and/or the conference at the popular Ardencote Manor in Warwickshire.” The conference will be chaired by award-winning baker David Powell and Peter Jones of Speedibake. For details, contact [email protected] or tel 01869 247098/277094.