Reading Alan Stuart in British Baker the other week (12 January pg 13), I thought how true it is that small can be successful against the big boys and his comments about Peter Drucker were so right. The thing I remember of Drucker was his view that all car show rooms should have a red convertible on display, which would bring in the men as it would make them think of wild youth and sex, while their wives would then make them buy a sedan.Somehow, my flashy cycle, complete with crossbar, did not really have the same suave sophisticated appeal to girls. Or was it my khaki shorts? One will never know.The question is could we use a similar marketing ploy in our bakery shop windows? A row of beautiful sausage rolls and Cornish pasties, our best-selling lines, do not seem to have the same appeal as that red convertible.Any suggestions you might have of products we could display, to inflame young men or women’s desire and make them purchase in huge quantities, would be most appreciated.The mind boggles as to how one family has kept a business running so long and so profitably. It really is very rare, although there are a few Scottish companies that seem to have found the secret of continuity. Having met a few Scots, the one thing they all have in common is that they are such nice people; it must be in the genes or is it thanks to Scotch whisky?While I must confess that the Scots’ reputation for being canny is true, I am not sure of the veracity of the story that, when Alan went into his local chemist and bought a baby bottle, his chemist friend said: “That’s rather extravagant, Alan.” “No not this time,” came the reply, “the wife’s having triplets.”I have always considered the best way to learn and get good ideas is to visit successful bakers. They are always generous with their time and knowledge, unlike politicians, who never think things through. Why, only the other day I read that the government thought mini brothels were a good idea! Have they never heard of the economy of scale?Then there is the current craze to give fancy titles to simple jobs, such as destination expert for travel agent. These crazy ideas are usually thought up by management consultants, who are often brought in by management either too weak or inefficient to make their own decisions, which they are paid to do.In my view, consultants should be brought in to solve specific problems, particularly technical ones, and not general management ones. That is our problem and if we can’t solve it, then perhaps we should not be running a company.The money spent on consultants could be better spent on new equipment or upgrading a shop or new office equipment, not having them present us with a slick folder containing pretty well what we had already told them.Another problem I have is asking someone who has had consultants in – and spent a great deal of money – if they were satisfied with the results. After all, how many people are honest enough to answer: “No, it was a waste of money.” n
Good Bread is Back- a contemporary history of French breadSteven Laurence KaplanAmerican historian Steven Kaplan traces the French bread-baking tradition, from the 18th Century right through industrialisation of the breadmaking process to the craft bakery revival of the 1990s, which was spurred on by government intervention.Kaplan also offers a personal account of how to assess the quality of French bread from the ideal crust and crumb, to mouth feel and aroma.
Every penny of profit generated at Costa coffee stores on 14 June is to be donated to coffee-growing regions to help with the provision of school buildings, clean water and other facilities.The funds will be channelled through the Costa Foundation, which was set up in 2006 so the company could “give something back to the communities within the countries from which we source our coffee beans”.In 2007-08, the foundation is building and maintaining schools within four communities in Colombia, Ethiopia and Uganda. “This is already making a big difference in regions where children have a three-hour walk to school, or have no access to clean water,” the company said.
Northern Irish bakery Irwin’s has achieved a 300-store distribution deal with Asda for its Irish Batch range.The deal, worth £250,000 annually, will see Irwin’s Irish Batch available in Great Britain for the first time, from this winter. The recipe was created over 40 years ago and is marketed in Northern Ireland as Nutty Krust.”Launching into GB follows intensive market research and analysis – and our market entry approach has been very ’agile’,” explained commercial controller Michael Murphy. “While Nutty Krust is an iconic brand in Ireland, we took the decision to market it in GB as ’Irwin’s Irish Batch’ because our export experience indicates that GB consumers enjoy authentically Irish products.”Murphy said the contract with Asda is strategically important, as well as of high value for the company, as it will give the product presence on supermarket shelves across Britain. It will be available in 400g white and high-fibre varieties in order to “fit in with GB shoppers’ multi-purchase approach to bread buying and to encourage widespread trial”.According to Irwin’s, its breads currently account for around 85% of all Irish breads sold in Britain.The firm also launched its batch bread in the Republic of Ireland earlier in the year.
Sales of frozen desserts are growing at the expense of chilled alternatives, according to the latest research from Mintel. Sales increased by 4% in 2008 and are set to increase by a further 5% over the next year, said the market analyst. This could potentially mean the market would be worth £284m by the end of 2009.”Around 16% of all Brits have switched from buying chilled desserts to the frozen variety in an effort to reduce their grocery shopping bill,” commented Mintel.Hot-eating desserts and gateaux are the frozen desserts of choice, accounting for 40% of all sales. However, frozen desserts are benefiting at the expense of chilled varieties.Angus Allan, managing director of Indulgence Patisserie, said the company is benefiting from the boom in frozen retail desserts. “Our sales are up 20% year-on-year. As a result of this uplift, our Indulgence brand desserts have recently gained several new listings with UK retailers,” he explained.”We exhibited for the first time at PLMA in Amsterdam last month and our range was very well received by the buyers from some very large European and Australasian retailers, which will help maintain the rapid growth in our export sales.”
The Village Bakery, based in Minera, near Wrexham, is to see nine of its lines stocked in 11 Tesco stores in North Wales, following a deal with the retailer.The lines on offer include white and brown bread, barm cakes, fruit scones and tea cakes, and the firm has said it hopes to expand on the nine-strong range in the future.Mark Grant, Tesco senior buying manager for Wales, said it was a great opportunity to get locally produced products into its stores, in response to customer demand. “We are going with white and brown barm cakes, tea cakes, fruit scones and, a couple of weeks later, we will have five different types of bread, three 800g loaves and two 400g loaves across white and brown.”Robin Jones, joint MD of the Village Bakery, said he was “over the moon” about the contract.
Consumers want all genetically modified (GM) food products to be labelled, including those where GM is used as a processing aid or in animal feed, according to new qualitative research commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).The report, Exploring Attitudes to GM Food, found that consumers were confused by GM and wanted clear and accessible information from a variety of sources, including supermarkets. In particular, people wanted to know about the potential long-term societal and personal impacts of GM and the potential consequences for animal welfare. Negative attitudes about GM foods focused on perceived health and environmental risks and scepticism about the motivations of producers and regulators. As part of the research, participants in the survey took part in workshops where they were given a presentation by an FSA representative, who provided an overview of issues relating to GM food, including the role of the FSA. Attitudes following the presentation tended to be either more positive towards GM foods or there was no change in overall attitudes. The FSA has set up a steering group to canvass public opinion on GM foods.A Soil Association spokesperson said: “One clear result of the study is that there should be compulsory labelling on meat and dairy products from animals fed on GM feed.”
Fox’s has re-launched its Cookie Bars with no artificial colours or flavours. Available this month, the new bars will be targeted at “family chocolate biscuit bar buyers”, said the firm.The biscuit has undergone several recipe developments, including textural modifications and the addition of more chocolate chips. Fox’s has also revamped the packaging, which features bolder colour and communicates the ’no artificials’ message.
The Scottish Association of Master Bakers has assumed the new corporate identity of Scottish Bakers, as part of a revamp of the organisation’s operations. “As part of this, we wanted to create a fresh public image,” explained chief executive Kirk Hunter. “We felt it wasn’t obvious to the public what the SAMB was all about.”Hunter added that the association wanted a new name to better convey what the SAMB does as an organisation. Its new public image will be extended to its publications and website.All members are now encouraged to actively promote the fact that they are part of Scottish Bakers, although the limited company, SAMB, will still remain intact, as will its traditional logo.l In related news, the organisation’s Annual General Meeting will be held at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel, Dunblane, on Saturday 15 May at 10.30am
Whether they’re going posh in Pizza Express or casual in Pizza Hut, having it delivered, taking it away, buying it from the freezer or chiller of a shop or even making their own, seven out of 10 people in the UK are eating pizza, according to research company Mintel.The world of pizza is clearly a world of opportunities and options for the consumer, before you even start discussing bases and toppings. So is it a saturated market that bakers would do well to avoid?Well no, Mintel suggests that there is also room to increase frequency of consumption in pizza. When it compiled its last report in 2008, half of adults who ate pizza only did so once a month at most.And rival research company Euromonitor argues there is still significant mileage for foodservice operators and independents, including bakers, to cash in, taking sales away from the established brands and the supermarkets. But you have to pitch it right and the growth in the market is coming from premium offers, says the company.Look for example at Gondola Holdings, which operates the upmarket PizzaExpress, ASK and Zizzi brands. It has seen sales rise steadily over the last five years as demand increases for its pizzas despite the economic gloom.The group favours fresh ingredients and a thin crust base, offering something close to the traditional authentic Italian pizza experience, rather than the American pizza experience.Rival and more “value” operator Pizza Hut, owned by Yum! Brands, says it has recently introduced thinner crust Tuscani pizzas, in a change of direction from its promotions-orientated approach, although Chicken Supreme, Pepperoni Feast, and Vegetable Supreme remain its best selling pizzas.Meanwhile, the key takeaway operator is Domino’s Pizza, which has 571 UK outlets. It says it is focused on consumer convenience such as online and mobile phone ordering. The goal is to make its offer more convenient for the consumer than putting a packaged pizza in the oven. Sales were up 10.5% for the first quarter of 2010. Its best selling topping is Pepperoni Passion.Jason Bull sales director of supplier Eurostar Commodities comments: “I feel the pizza market as a whole is still in growth, due to the demand for higher quality and authentic ingredients such as genuine 00 Italian flours for pizza bases. Manufacturers are getting much more creative in this very tough environment, to set themselves apart from others and provide a competitive edge.”He says he hopes to spawn a new age of pizzas that are good for your health with two products due to launch this month. These are Gran Fibre, a high fibre, low fat cereal flour mix, and Pane Rustici.Unique selling pointIn a crowded marketplace it is harder for operators to find a unique selling point and make their pizza offering stand out, comments Warren MacFarlane, marketing manager at dairy group Lactalis McLelland.”One way to achieve this is to make your pizza taste as authentic as possible. Here the use of genuine Italian toppings and ingredients is a must, such as our range of Galbani Italian cheeses.”Operators looking to add a touch of class to their menu should consider tasting our PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) cheeses,” he suggests. “With customers’ perception of quality versus value for money being higher than ever, operators need to offer premium products. Using PDO Italian cheese on menus will clearly illustrate their point of difference in a crowded market. Why not advertise the fact your menu contains cheeses that come from a particular region in Italy, and add real gravitas?”Bakers have another advantage when it comes to gravitas. A skilled baker should easily be able to make a decent pizza base.And for the bakery operator, pizzas can in fact be an extremely cost effective sideline. Pizza dough is relatively cheap and simple to make – even if you are using top quality grains. What’s new? Sunspice Oils What are Sunspice Oils?A collection of oils flavoured with herbs and spices, including garlic, onion, oregano and basil. Sunspice Collection oils are intense and offer an easy way to bring the character of fried herbs and spices to pizza bases, toppings and breads. They are heat-stable, simple to use and a natural means of giving dishes an authentic flavour profile.What’s so special about them?The Sunspice flavours enable the full, cooked flavour of fried herbs and spices to be integrated into a dish, without the need for high heating of other ingredients. This preserves nutrients and significantly boost the impression of freshness in the finished product.Why should manufacturers buy this?The Sunspice Collection can help manufacturers create products with premium and gourmet positionings, focusing on the quality and provenance of ingredients without the storage and food safety issues associated with fresh or frozen herbs and spices.So explain the techie stuff.Manufactured by Symrise, Sunspice is created by frying the culinary ingredients in vegetable oil. They are free of added flavour enhancers, dyes, and GM ingredients and can be declared either as natural flavours or as the individual herb or spice.Bottom line, what’s the benefit to the manufacturer?The oils are simple to use, mix and meter, and offer an easy way to flavour food compared to fresh herbs and spices no frying necessary.Questions posed to Alie Coppolella, technical manager, S Black Product Update Touch pad controlLincoln Countertop Impinger ovens from Manitowoc Foodservice UK now come with a digital touch pad as a standard feature on the front of the oven.The new push-button control panel gives operators the ability to quickly and easily set conveyor direction, speed, and temperature. The new controls also feature four preset menu buttons with digital time and temperature display. The oven incorporates a 16-inch wide conveyor belt and 20-inch baking chamber and can be stacked up to two high. In most applications ventilation is not required.The updated model now includes a more robust conveyor motor, a broader range of oven temperatures from 32ºC to 315ºC and a wider range of conveyor speeds.Take it to the topping Rectory Foods, global supplier of quality poultry and food ingredients, has launched a new range of frozen chicken products for the bakery sector under its Hot Chicken Company (HCC) brand. The company says that chicken is a good value source of protein for bakers and baked goods manufacturers to create a variety of pizza toppings that customers know and love, from the traditional to more inventive products. Nick Bowyer, MD at Rectory Foods, comments: “Chicken toppings are not only filling for hungry customers, but are often viewed as healthier than red meat or pepperoni alternatives.”The HCC range features frozen, steam-cooked, roast or flavoured premium chicken breast pieces. These are available in strips (10/12mm), slices (5mm) and cubes (10/12mm) and are ideal for bakers to add to a range of dishes, from fresh pizzas, sandwiches, baguettes, paninis, bagels, wraps and croissants, as well as pies. Keeping a lid on sauce Decorating lines providing a wide range of options for both edge-free and total coverage pizzas are a speciality of the Tromp group. Edge-free decorating systems ensure that sauce and toppings are contained within a specific area of the base, says the Shrewsbury-based company. They feature automatic positioning of pizza bases on foam or cardboard discs, and a servo-driven sauce depositor designed so that herbs and pieces can be included. An equalizer spreads out the sauce before a target applicator adds cheese, meat, fish and vegetables. A continuous line for total coverage of the pizza base is modular to allow for extension. A waterfall enrober applies a constant, controlled layer of sauce, then a continuous strewing system adds a full selection of toppings onto any pizza shape, with a re-circulating system minimising waste.These sophisticated systems feature a sensor driven pizza tracking system. All parameters can be adjusted on a single touch-screen, and saved for recall on the next production run.