You have just over a week left to enter the California Raisin Administrative Committee’s (CRAC) competition to find innovative uses of its raisins.The best innovation will win an all-expenses paid study trip for four people to California, plus an unspecified amount of support for advertising and public relations for the winning product. The second and third prize winners will also receive “worthwhile” support for promotion, said the UK arm of the Californian raisin industry.Entries should feature an innovative use of the US raisins, juice concentrate or paste, said CRAC: “A raisin scone would not win.” Sandwich makers and bakery foodservice suppliers are among those encouraged to enter.The deadline for entries is July 17. Contact CRAC on 020 8741 8513 or via email [email protected]
The European Parliament last week voted to allow bread to be exempt from legislation which will deregulate pack sizes for pre-packed products across Europe.At present, under UK law, bread over 300g must weigh 400g or a multiple of 400g – for example 1,200g. The EU Nominal Quantities Directive had originally stated that all products would be deregulated.But on May 10, the European Parliament said that existing sizes for pre-packed products (such as pre-packed bread) “will not be affected by this directive and can continue to be used”.The legislation now passes to the European Council to approve it as amended, a “horsetrading” process which may take three to four months, Federation of Bakers director Gordon Polson told British Baker.The Nominal Quantities Directive only covers packaged goods, so bread sold loose is exempt. Whatever is decided, it will continue to be sold in regulated sizes, unless the Department of Trade and Industry reviews the situation.
Marco Olmi, at The Drury Tea & Coffee Company, said Caffè Culture at London’s Olympia last month was one of his favourite exhibitions and Drury has attended all three shows so far. “The high standards have been maintained by the organisers this year with good visitor numbers attending. We find that visitors are at the same time both knowledgeable and prepared to commit themselves to purchase.”Certainly, one of the reasons for its success is the highly targeted nature of the show, he said. “It fairly and squarely addresses the needs of the high-street coffee shop. This is also a key market segment for Drury and its associate company, The Coffee Machine Company, so it was natural we should attend.”The level of interest in Drury teas and coffees was very pleasing and we were delighted with the response from visitors to the Rancilio Compact Tall espresso machine, which we launched at the show.”Newbie Keith Upham, managing director of Devonvale, a baked snacks producer based in Honiton, Devon, was exhibiting at Caffè Culture for the first time.”We have been serving the coffee shop market for many years now and Caffè Culture helped us to gain an even better understanding of how this huge market works,” he said. “If, like me, you were born in a world where coffee options were either ’black or white’ and ’with or without’, the sheer range of flavours, styles and combinations is quite staggering and a fantastic opportunity for a company like ours producing complementary snacks.”Devonvale, which produces a wide range of award-winning crumbles, flapjacks and individual cake slices, used the exhibition to present the recently launched ’Just’ range of healthier nut and seed-based cluster bars.”Listening to our customers is probably the most important thing we do as a company,” he said. “And for me as a baker, the greatest buzz comes from finding technical ways to deliver what those customers want.”Angela Cole, Devonvale’s account manager agreed: “You just cannot beat an exhibition for getting to the heart of a sector. I not only came away with plenty of leads, but also some great suggestions for new products and flavours perfect for the coffee market.”
Greggs has published a strong set of results for the half-year to June.The bakery retailer’s group sales for the 24 weeks to 14 June 2008 were up by 7.7% to £276m. Pre-tax profits, excluding exceptionals and property, dipped 4.3% to £14.1m. Managing director Sir Michael Darrington said rising input costs had affected its margins. “The key thing is we deliberately didn’t put our prices up as fast as our ingredients costs went up. That’s taking a long-term view,” he said.Darrington will now step down and hand over to new chief exe-cutive Ken McMeikan.
All-round bakery manufacturer Finsbury Foods’ has experienced a group revenue increase of 53.9% to £169 million. The preliminary results for the year ended 30 June 2008 show the company has achieved strong growth in each of its subsidiaries with like for like sales up 13%. Adjusted pre-tax profit stood at £7.7 million compared to £4.6 million last year.Dave Brooks, who steps down as chief executive with effect from 29 September, said it had been “a year of achievement” for Finsbury, despite inflationary pressures, with highlights including the acquisition of Yorkshire Farm Bakeries and A&P Foods to form Livwell Ltd and the transfer of the California Cakes Ltd operation to the Hamilton site of the Lightbody Group in July 2007. It is also a year that saw United Central Bakeries Ltd return to full operation following a fire in October 2006.
A new automatic bread baking system has been launched by Bakefresh, under licence from bakery equipment firm Tom Chandley. The oven claims to reduce day-to-day waste and is available in five self-service models.The Three Lane, the Bakefresh Single Lane Major, the Bakefresh Single Lane Mini, the Bakefresh Baguette and Bakefresh Bagel ovens can be used for bake-off products.Output ranges from 70-540 units per hour. The stainless steel ovens feature a sensor to prevent over-baking.[http://www.chandleyovens.co.uk]
Greggs plans to build an additional bakery in the south of England to support the proposed opening of 600 new stores.In its half-year statement in August, the bakery chain said it aimed to open 30-40 net new shops in 2010, but an interim statement this week revealed this has now been revised to 50-60, doubling its historic rate of new store openings. From 2011 it plans to open at least 70 net new shops per annum. It also hopes to double its shop refits to 120 per annum from 2010.Sales performance in the 42 weeks ending 17 October 2009 rose steadily, up 3.8%, with like-for-like sales up 1%. However, for the first 16 weeks of the second half, like-for-like sales were up only 0.2%.The bakery retailer reported that, although this year’s good wheat harvest and reduced energy costs have eased some pressures, these had been partly offset by cost increases in a number of ingredients, particularly meats.In order to fulfil its plans for expansion and ensure an effective distribution network, Greggs said it planned to build an additional new bakery to support growth in the south, as well as replace its bakery in Twickenham and extend other bakeries “to facilitate greater expansion than previously planned”.Chief executive Ken McMeikan said he was pleased with the firm’s sales performance against a backdrop of tough trading conditions.”We are on track to deliver our targets for the year, although the final outcome will depend on consumer sentiment and spen-ding over the important Christ-mas period.”One city analyst said it was “a very credible trading update”, adding that the firm is a “steady reliable business” with reliable stock.
Byron Bay Cookie Company’s Dotty Cookie has undergone a New Year makeover. The new-look single-wrap packaging is designed to appeal to those most likely to eat the Dotty Cookies kids. It also highlights that the cookies are free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives in order to appeal to parents buying them for their children. The new-look packaging, launched successfully in Australia last year, has resulted in a 30% increase in sales.The revamped cookie is also joined by a gluten-free version, to cater for increased demand for allergy-aware kids’ food products. Both lines have been approved by the Vegetarian Society, and the gluten-free Dotty is registered with the Coeliac Society.www.beyondthebean.com
Devon-based Pipers Farm has signed a deal potentially worth £20,000 to supply a range of bespoke pies to Lord’s Cricket Ground.The pies, which retail for £4.95 each, are made from scratch in the company’s Cullompton kitchen, with meat from local farms that has been hung to improve flavour and texture.Available through the cricket ground’s public bars, the range includes Red Ruby Steak & Mushroom, Pipers Farm Lamb & Mint, Pipers Farm Chicken & Saddleback Ham and Pumpkin, Goat’s Cheese & Spinach. The deal was secured following several visits from Lord’s chefs to the farm. “We believe there is an exciting potential to build a substantial relationship with Lord’s based on the USPs of our two very prestigious brands,” said Peter Greig, owner of Pipers Farm.
Transferring the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) work on nutrition to the Department of Health (DoH) will not adversely affect bakers, say industry figures.The DoH will now be responsible for guidance on saturated fat and salt, a move welcomed by the Food & Drink Federation, which it said should lead to clearer and more consistent policy-making.Federation of Bakers director Gordon Polson said it would be business as usual. “We expect to continue working with the same people, who are going to be transferring to the DoH, on the same policies. I don’t expect salt reduction targets to change,” he said.Health quango, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), had previously called on manufacturers to make bigger cuts in sat fats than FSA targets, but a spokeswoman for the Biscuit Cake Chocolate and Confectionery Alliance said the organisation did not expect the new set-up to impact on industry work on saturated fat reduction and reformulation. She said: “Although we’ve heard the budget for communications and campaigns will be greatly reduced, we do expect the work on reformulation to continue.”However, NAMB chief executive Gill Brooks-Lonican said she expected work by Trading Standards, funded by the FSA, to test the salt levels of bread in craft bakeries across the UK and provide advice on how to reduce salt content in products would falter. Said Brooks-Lonican: “They have only got enough money to promote so many leaflets, then funding finishes. I think the scheme will fizzle out then. I also think the work on saturated fats will go quiet.”