HARVESTIME (2005) administrators are still in negotiations over the future of its bakeries, particularly the site in Walsall, which is still trading.Joint administrator John Kelly of Begbies Traynor told British Baker he was still exploring the options, with interested parties. These are understood to include a deal with management, which will keep the Walsall bakery afloat while its future is decided. Administrators also need to decide the future of bakeries in Leicester and Peterborough, which ceased trading when Harvestime (2005) went into administration on November 18. Australian investor Ian Allen, who bought Harvestime (2005) in November, shortly before it was placed in administration, was not taking part in any discussions, Mr Kelly said.
European bakery machinery manufacturer Polin (Farnham, Surrey) says it produces almost every type of oven, from small bake-off units to comprehensive tunnel oven installations.Among its latest products is the Stratos Electric Modular Deck oven, which can be fitted with different soles, including fibre-composite for bread and pastry or armoured cement for pizza and focaccia. The modular oven can also be fitted with steam and supplied with a proof cabinet beneath.
RHM said its Bread Bakeries division had seen outstan-ding achievement by Hovis and an improved performance on cakes in the year to April 29, 2006. In a trading update, the firm noted that a “much improved” financial performance in its Manor Bakeries cakes business in the second half, was due to “planned actions” including the closure of its Eastleigh bakery. But it was too early to say if “the issues affecting Mr Kipling have been successfully addressed”. Turnover for the year will be 2% ahead of last year, with profits in excess of £170million, compared with £158m the year before, RHM said. It will announce its preliminary results on June 29.
Pressure group Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) has called for a boycott of breads with high salt levels as part of its Salt Awareness Week campaign, which runs until February 4.It says that while many bakery products now contain significantly less salt than a few years ago, salt levels in others are still too high.Its research found that a white crusty farmhouse loaf bought from Marks & Spencer in September 2004 contained 1.75g of salt per 100g, whereas the same product bought at the end of 2006 contained around half this amount of 0.9g salt per 100g.Many other loaves now contain around 0.8-1g of salt per 100g. However, some bread still contains as much as 1.5g of salt per 100g.CASH has urged consumers to avoid buying Tesco’s Stayfresh Medium Sliced Wholemeal bread (1.5g salt per 100g) and choose Sainsbury’s Stay Fresher For Longer Medium Sliced Wholemeal bread instead, as it contains much less salt (0.9g per 100g).Indeed, any bread that contains more than 1.25g of salt per 100g should be boycotted, as lower salt alternatives exist, according to CASH.”The UK is leading the world on salt reduction – many of our food manufacturers should be congratulated on the effort they have made to reduce the amount of salt they add to our foods,” said Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of CASH. “This proves that lower salt versions can be developed.”In its latest survey, CASH revisited 127 products it had previously ’named and shamed’ to see how their salt contents had changed.It said products still found to have a high salt content included Sainsbury’s and Tesco Crumpets, which contain 2g of salt per 100g. read more
McDonald’s is revamping many of its restaurants with 200 outlets set to be ’re-imaged’ by the end of next year.”We are giving the stores a more modern and contemporary feel,” Lorraine Homer, media relations manager of McDonald’s UK, told British Baker. “Furnishings are more tactile and less plastic.”The redesign programme, which has been running for 18 months, features leather and wood finishes with furnishings in new colours, including green, brown and red.The menu has also been updated with a new premium sandwich – the Chicken Legend – launched this month. It comes on a lightly toasted, rustic roll.Other new products include the Toasted Deli Sandwich and Chicken Snack Wraps. And coffee has switched to Rainforest Alliance certified coffee.”The informal eating out sector is increasingly competitive with more and more players in the market,” said Homer. She said the sector had more than doubled over the last five years. “Businesses need to stand out and be more relevant to customers in order to win share. For McDonald’s this means good food served fast, choice and variety, and also refreshing our restaurants, many of which were looking dated.”In October, the company announced that it would roll-out free high-speed wireless internet access across almost 1,200 restaurants in the UK. According to McDonald’s, people are looking to access the internet on the move, whether it’s on their laptops, mobile phones or games consoles. read more
Tom Herbert is a fifth-generation baker and director of Hobbs House Bakery, a multi-award-winning craft bakery based in south GloucestershireIt started with a bubble. A dough, just flour and water, put in a bucket and pushed to one side. This innocent mix is more than the sum of its parts and on how that bubble gets there, a lot has been said. What I do know, for certain, is that it happened. And when those first bubbles appeared, I nurtured them and they have become our most precious ingredient.Ten years later, we read in Matthew Fort’s column “Wild White loaf, the staple of my breakfast table”, a loaf risen with these magical bubbles. We then get a call – this same loaf has won best baked product at the Soil Association’s Annual Organic Food Awards… Woooohoooo!These pearls are magnificent, but knowing how to create edible alchemy from three ingredients, without sharing with anyone how great the bread tastes and how well it keeps, would be to keep our light under a bushel. As a craft bakery in a growing market we need to continually be on the look-out for new ways of tempting people back and ultimately selling more. For us, winning a national award with our provincial product has spurred us into action. We’ve enlisted the help of a local marketing company, which tells us to be brave and go where we’ve never gone before.So for us it’s about making great bread with ingredients that can be counted on one hand, being better but, more importantly, being different, it’s telling the story. So we combine five generations of experience with the best creative and contemporary professional nous we can muster and in mixing these few strong ingredients together we will endeavour to create something beautiful, equal to that of our Wild White and, in doing so, offer our customers a choice that can be trusted in the face of coming challenges, whether that be for fat-busting diets or eating well with thinning wallets.Now would be a great time to dust off the LJ Hanneman books and get your customers familiar with your regional baked specialities, if they aren’t already part of your USP. Nigel Slater has been extolling the virtues of this nubile facet of our cultural heritage with aplomb and he has been joined by the ’Hairy Biker’ Bakers. Save money and let this be our advert.There may not be time to study the minutiae of the bubbles, I’ll leave that to the team at Cern with their particle-smasher: if we all disappear into a black hole on 10 September, it probably won’t be my latest, a Spelt Sourdough – although that should rock the world.I’m looking forward to celebrating with the second-finest thing with bubbles in it.! read more
The Kaak Group has launched a new Daub Energy Recovery System for bakers and food manufacturers, with the aim of saving customers up to 30% on their energy costs.The company says that, on average, around 53% of the energy supplied to an oven disappears into the atmosphere. Daub’s ovens use thermal oil to heat a radiator, which runs through the oven and maintains it at the optimum temperature throughout. This technology has been around for several years, but Daub is building on it with its new Energy Recovery System. This is achieved by using a ’closed system’ whereby the heat produced during baking is connected to all heat-producing units, energy users and heat storage facilities, so that the recovered energy can be used again – for example to heat the offices or to run hot water systems.The Daub Energy Recovery System reuses up to 83% of the energy that would normally be lost during the baking process – or 44% of the 53% of the total energy used.”A Daub Energy Recovery System will achieve financial pay-back within a reasonable period of time,” explained David Marsh, MD at Benier UK, which handles Daub in this country. “Equally importantly, it will do wonders for energy efficiency, as well as a company’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and the promotion of its environ-mental credentials.”’’www.kaakgroep.nl’’ read more
The torrent of new store openings from the big coffee shop and sandwich chains is set to slow to a trickle as consumers tighten their purse strings because of the recession.According to a consumer survey commissioned for a new report by Key Note, 42% of people said they were likely to cut back on visiting coffee and sandwich shops in the future as a result of the recession – a development predicted to dramatically slow growth in the market in the next five years. The sector will also be hit by the ageing UK population, saturation in prime locations and increased competition from other retailers, such as department stores and supermarkets.The Coffee & Sandwich Shops Report predicts that the number of stores operated by the top 12 coffee shop brands will increase by 26% over the next five years from 2,980 to 3,760 in 2013. The number of stores operated by the top 13 branded sandwich shop chains is predicted to grow by 13% from 3,780 stores to 4,265. This is a much slower rate than in recent years.”Among the coffee majors, only Starbucks has so far announced any outlet closures. Most of the major coffee- and sandwich-shop operators are likely to scale back their plans for further outlet openings,” said the report. “Profitability at coffee and sandwich shops is likely to suffer, as special offers are used more often to attract customers.” read more
Members may remember that, last month, I wrote “why I’m not in favour of trial periods for new employees”. Now I will tell you why I am in favour of trial periods for newly promoted staff.Say that you have recently promoted a shop assistant to the position of manageress, but they don’t meet your expectations. While the employee worked well at a lower level, they clearly struggle with more responsibility. This is where the “trial period” comes in.Where a member of staff is promoted, a trial period clause is useful. If they don’t meet expectations or it is clear that they are struggling in their new role, you will be able to put them back into their old job. In other words, their promotion isn’t permanent until it is confirmed and you reserve the right to revert them to their original role.You can set a period of three to six months for them to be assessed in their new role. In both cases the employee knows his or her employment is being assessed and is subject to confirmation, so this should mean they work harder to prove themselves.Finally, if there is a problem, act before the probation period ends. If you miss this by just one day, employment is automatically confirmed and you cannot rely on the clause. read more
Burton’s Foods has launched its Cadbury Christmas Biscuits range, with new products to tempt chocoholics.Seasonal edition Cadbury Mallows come in Caramel and Turkish varieties: the Caramel or Turkish-filled mallow comes on a biscuit base, covered in milk chocolate (RSP: £1.59). Also new are Cadbury Festives 14 biscuits with mint or orange cream centres, in milk chocolate, which are targeted at consumers wanting snacks to share over the festive season or as an after-dinner treat (RSP: £1.59).The old favourite Cadbury Collection Tin of indulgent shortcake biscuits with milk chocolate coating comes in a newly designed special commemorative tin (£9.99), while the Cadbury Occasions Selection Carton (£4.99) has had a festive makeover. The Cadbury Cookie Collection is also back with new chunkier cookies 33% more than the old 300g pack at the same RSP of £4.99. read more