Turkey specialist Bernard Matthews says it has received a high level of interest from high street and takeaway retailers as it prepares to roll out its new Yummy food-to-go brand.The range, including sandwiches, salads, smoothies and snacks, was launched in 70 Superdrug stores last November and rolled out to 297 stores in February.Speaking at CRS, food-to-go category director Harvey Crabtree told British Baker that the range was a step change for Bernard Matthews, enabling it to target a new audience of consumers with a high-quality brand.He said: “Food-to-go fixtures across all sectors of the marketplace are often not the clearest in the world. You get a confusion of brands and messages from a plethora of operators, which quickly leads to confusion. We offer a clear solution with mass market appeal, price points to match and fun brand values.”The range will complement Bernard Matthews’ existing and more traditional sandwich range, launched in 2000 and available in petrol forecourts and other outlets. The Yummy range will be introduced in other out-of-home, high-traffic outlets later this year.Bread for the new range is supplied by Jacksons and Bagels by Maple Leaf.
Irish sandwich and coffee chain O’Briens has revealed it will make its first foray across the Atlantic with the roll-out of a franchise operation in Canada.Retail and operations director Andrew Moyes said that the firm, which has an international presence in Singapore, Australia and China among other countries, is also set to build up a cluster of stores in central Europe.He told British Baker: “Our plan is to have two Canadian shops open by spring next year. Canada is a vast country, so there are huge opportunities. We’re also looking to go into Belgium and France to get a continental European cluster of shops.”Our Irishness is a big strength when we’re trading outside Ireland,” he added, “and the made- to-order model, along with the speed of service, provides a compelling proposition.”Moyes also revealed that the chain’s turnover was up by around 10% year-on-year and that its booming outside catering business now accounts for up to 50% of inner-city store turnover. “Some operators have two or three refrigerated vans, and we have a very strong business with outside catering. That, I think, makes our operation quite unique,” he said.O’Briens will also introduce a party menu this autumn for private functions, weddings and christenings. “This gives the franchisees a huge opportunity to increase their sales beyond the retail offer. We can also attract customers into our stores through cross-marketing,” said Moyes.
Three-quarters of the places for the One Voice conference on the future of bakery training and qualifications have already been snapped up.Bakery trainers and employers are invited to contact Improve on 0845 644 0448 if they would like to attend the conference at Baker’s Hall on 30 October from 9.30am to 12.30pm.Improve is one of 25 sector skills council, established by government. Its specific remit is to drive learning skills in the food manufacturing sector of which bakery is a key part.Anyone who employs bakers in a craft, plant or supermarket is invited to attend the free conference. Those who train bakers are also encouraged to attend and make their views known.Improve’s Paula Widdowson said: “Delegates must help ensure that government listens and acts on their concerns. They need to voice their views from the floor.”
Craft bakeries fear a massive skills shortage, as the flow of bakers from Eastern Europe dries up and those already here return home.With the fall in the value of the pound and the economic slowdown, the UK is less attractive to migrant workers such as bakers. In contrast, the Polish economy is predicted to grow by 5.4% this year and 3.8% in 2009, tempting many to return home.London-based agency Employ-ment Choice has seen a 15-20% drop in the number of Eastern European bakers on its books in the past six months, while Home Office figures show the number of Eastern Europeans registering for work in the UK fell by 22,000 between July and September – a drop of 40% compared to the same period in 2007.The worry among bakers is that there is not enough home-grown talent to fill the void. At Fosters Bakery in Barnsley, which employs 240 staff, operations director Michael Taylor said: “Finding Latvian and Polish workers is a struggle. Bakeries still relying on them are going to come unstuck. Around 25% of our staff are from Eastern Europe and we expect that to fall to around 10% in the next few years. In 2011, when Germany relaxes its immigration laws, we expect even more workers to move on. Germany is a lot closer to Poland than the UK.”Fosters has invested heavily in training to help fill the impending skills gap, embarking on a series of training projects with colleges and the local Job Centre.London craft bakery Flourish employs 38 staff, with around 80% from Eastern Europe. Director Helen O’Connell said the company had written to French and Spanish bakery schools to offer newly qualified students work experience. “We’ve lost a few Polish staff recently,” she said. “Recruitment is getting tougher.”
Yorkshire-based baker and patissier Just Desserts has launched a number of new products and has hopes to tackle the top-end retail sector, following substantial investment at its Shipley factory.The firm took over a unit that became available next to its factory last year and spent around £50k doubling the factory’s floor space to around 3,600sq ft, expanding the bakery and investing in new equipment, as well as streamlining and modernising its operations, explained MD and founder James O’Dwyer. The company has seen business grow by 15% in the year to March 2009, compared to the same period in 2008.“There are a lot of opportunities in the marketplace, so we’re trying to raise the profile of the company,” said O’Dwyer. He explained that the business aims to capitalise on what it does best and will look at targeting some of its successful products, such as its award-winning treacle tart, at the top-end retail sector, including upmarket foodhalls.Its new products include pear-and-almond and fig-and-almond ‘franzipans’, and it is relaunching Sweethearts – puff pastry hearts with a fruit conserve and a strawberry mousse filling.Established in 1985, it currently employs 16 people and supplies the foodservice sector, as well as farm shops and delicatessens.
Clean-label, functional ingredients supplier Ulrick & Short has been working on improvements to its fat replacer Delyte.The product, derived from tapioca, has been developed for use in sweet and savoury pastry. It reduces saturated and calorie content, but increases the process tolerance of the finished pastry, leading to less wastage.Ulrick claims it also improves the overall appearance of the finished pastry by reducing cracking and splitting, which is achieved without taking away the shortness when eating.”Several major bakeries in the UK and mainland Europe have successfully completed trials using the improved formula and as a consequence will be introducing the new Delyte into their products,” said the firm.Its range of fat replacers can be used in a variety of baked goods including cakes, muffins, biscuits, breads, pastries and all dairy fillings.The firm said it is also currently developing clean label ingredients for the replacement of butter in croissants and the removal of fat from biscuits.www.ulrickandshort.com
Pâtissier’s first outletCelebrated chef pâtissier Pierre Hermé has opened his first London shop, following his UK debut in Selfridges. The famous macaroons from the man described as the ’Picasso of Pastry’ will be available in the outlet on Lowndes St, Belgravia, from September.Warburtons role Warburtons has appointed its first female general manager in the company’s 134-year history. Vivienne Jones has taken up the role at the Pennine Bakery in Shaw, near Oldham, and joins from rival Premier Foods, where she was factory manager at the firm’s Reading site.Bakers in Top 100 list In the annual Top 100 listing of consumers’ favourite retail brands in Ireland, compiled by AC Nielsen for grocery trade magazine Checkout, Brennans Bakery was third, up one place from last year. Irish Pride was 13th; Pat the Baker, 17th; and Johnston, Mooney & O’Brien was 28th.Internet advice Small businesses are being encouraged to attend a series of free events around the UK to discover how they can get more from the internet. The Forum of Private Business is hosting the meetings to show how using search engine optimisation and learning about website development can help companies increase sales, boost profits and diversify into new markets. See www.fpb.org.Correction Incorrect dates were printed in the commodities table which appeared on the market prices page in the 27 August issue. The coffee arabica, coffee robusta, white sugar and cocoa futures were not for a specific contract date and the futures (LIFFE and ICE exchanges) were correct as of 20/08/2010 not 2009.
A few eyebrows were no doubt raised when the small Welsh miller Bacheldre Mill recently told British Baker that it was in talks with the likes of Warburtons around the potential to carry its branding and its rich artisanal backstory on some of the plant baker’s products (see BB, 13 August). With the major brands looking to play the provenance card, are craft bakers in danger of being blind-sided?While Kingsmill features the carbon label on-pack, and Hovis and some supermarkets have moved towards using solely British wheats, how much is the craft sector doing to shout about its local wheat credentials? All the indications are that the consumer is looking for “local”. The Carbon Trust’s Carbon Reduction food label is set to become bigger than both the Soil Association’s organic mark and Fairtade badge, based on value sales of products sold that feature the label. According to The Centre for Retail Research, annual sales will hit £2bn by the end of the year, making it the second best-selling ethical label behind Red Tractor.The whole issue of flour being “local” is no doubt problematic, what with the need to bolster it with imported wheats. But the marketing potential of using local millers remains a major advantage to the craft sector. In light of this, we decided to explore some of the more niche flours and millers out there to see if provenance and a ’good story’ stacked up against performance in the bakery. Wholemeal flour was chosen to benchmark and, in so doing, we also compared white wheat and spelt wholemeals.The baking tests were conducted by bakery consultant John Haynes, and evaluations were carried out by himself, consultant John Allen, baker Rob Harman and miller Gary Lancaster. Unsurprisingly, their opinions did not always coincide, so we have printed the scores below. All flours were evaluated against one standard test bakery recipe, using flour, water, yeast and salt and no other ingredients. All were made under the same conditions, using one-hour bulk fermentation. Note, the flours tested are just a representative sample of those now on the market rather than an exhaustive round-up.Imported wheats continue to be used to boost the quality of millers’ flour, as was evident in the top three rated flours. The flour that came out on top was one of the benchmark flours Marriage’s Vienna Wholemeal, which is roller-milled and uses a high proportion of Canadian wheat. The evaluators considered it to have better volume, texture and flavour, attributed to the Canadian wheat. Having milled for almost 200 years, Marriage’s also has provenance in spades, with close links to local Essex growers, and also procuring from the family’s nearby farms.”The roller-milling process results in a flour that is neither too fine nor too coarse,” explains Hannah Marriage. “It’s a strong flour, designed for craft bakers to make a well-risen, palatable wholemeal loaf.” The flour has over 13% protein content, with only a minimal amount of gluten added to provide consistency when baking, she adds.In second place was Stoate & Sons’ Organic Strong 100% Wholemeal Flour, made at Cann Mills in Shaftesbury, Dorset. This is produced from locally sourced, single-variety milling wheat, blended with high-protein Kazakhstan wheat (the percentage of local wheat is dependent on the analysis of the wheat, which can vary from batch to batch between 30-50%). Like all Stoate’s flour, it is stoneground on slow-running traditional horizontal French Burr millstones, which produces a soft flour incorporating all the natural wheatgerm oils present in the wheat grain.”It performed well and was a nice dough, but came second, because it was lower in volume and had a slightly sour taste, which wasn’t unpleasant but was distinctive,” commented Haynes. “A slightly higher protein level would help it become a very commercial loaf.” Would a small mill like Stoate’s be able to offer the same quality with 100% UK wheat? “It would be nice to use 100% local wheat and I have done tests on the conventionally grown Canadian varieties, which have been grown locally,” says Michael Stoate. “But my feeling is that if grown organically there could be problems in the field, especially with disease resistance.”Next up was FWP Matthews’ Canadian Farmhouse Wholemeal (we tested a Cotswold Farmhouse Wholemeal consumer pack, which is the same flour). It includes 40% UK and 60% Canadian, has a 13.5% protein content and is milled in the standard way. Haynes considered it a “good bakers’ flour”, adding that it was “slightly tough”. “The toughness would be overcome if you added an organic bread improver,” he says.And for the rest:4. Swaffham Prior Wholemeal Flour: “Another small independent mill,” says Haynes. “It was good-quality wheat, slightly tough, which is a disadvantage if you’re looking for a softer loaf. The toughness masked the flavour. A bit of organic fat olive oil or butter would give a softer eating product and bring the flavour out.”5. Doves Farm Organic Strong Wholemeal Flour: “It had a nice flavour, but tasted dry, which I was slightly disappointed with. It was slightly low in volume. Fat would improve the recipe and it would have benefited from some more water in the recipe.”6. Redbournbury Watermill Spelt Wholemeal Flour: This was slightly different from the group, because it was old English spelt grain and needed a no-time dough, as the protein would not stand bulk fermentation. “It gave a nice loaf and although it was soft, the texture was very open,” says Haynes. “It had a nice spelt flavour, but it could have been stronger. Dare we be so bold as to suggest using 70% spelt and 30% good wholemeal grain to make it into a commercial loaf?”7. Over Windmill Zircon Wholemeal Flour (+ additional gluten)/9 (without gluten): This was the only white wheat flour tested. “White wheat gives you the golden wholemeal effect, it’s lighter, but it also lacks the flavour. A lot of children don’t like the wholemeal flavour, so it probably has a market, from that point of view,” comments Haynes. In fact, it is believed that Marks & Spencer is currently using white wheat flour in its wholemeal breads.8. Little Salkeld Wholemeal: “This was low in volume with a sour taste. From a commercial baker’s point of view, the volume was just too low. It would have benefited from a bit more yeast and maybe a bit less water in the recipe.”Many of the breads baked would have benefited from a clean label organic bread improver, he believes. Nevertheless, “If you want to make unique products, using some of these small regional mills could give you an advantage,” Haynes concludes. “A partnership between the local mill and baker could be a good marketing tool as well as the benefits of reduced carbon footprints.” Wholemeal test recipe IngredientsgFlour under test1,120Yeast34Sea salt 16Water760Total1,930Average dough temperature: 26CFermentation: 1 hour bulk*Yield: 4 loaves scaled @ 450gProof: 55 mins @ 32C 97% RHBaking: 210C for 35 mins*note: Wholemeal spelt from Redbournbury Mill was a no time dough
Nearly 50 staff who thought their jobs had been saved when Frank Roberts & Sons bought P&A Davies out of administration are to be made redundant.Roberts said that because P&A Davies’ six shops were no longer part of the business – four of which have been bought by Chatwins there was no need for its wholesale operation and, as a result, 48 factory staff were expected to be let go, with some of these taking voluntary redundancy.The company added that it had been, “trying to establish a more profitable and viable business,” since it had bought the ailing firm and hoped to safeguard 45 former P&A Davies’ staff jobs once the consultation ended on 5 November.Ten staff have already transferred to Roberts’ Northwich-based manufacturing facility to work in the Pastry Case a division of the Roberts’ group, which is the UK’s largest manufacturer of gingerbread men.A further 35 workers will stay at P&A Davies’ recently opened bakery facility in Hawarden, near Chester, which will remain operational. The retention of these staff at Hawarden will mean Roberts can continue to produce its range of frozen products and increase production of other products.MD Mike Braddock said: “We have spent the last few weeks working towards a solution that would safeguard as many jobs as possible, while providing a strong business model to take forward.”Unfortunately, the current economic climate, and the changes to the business resulting from the separation of the shops, means that we are unable to maintain current staffing levels.”>>Chatwins buys up four P & A Davies stores>>Roberts snaps up central bakery of P & A Davies
Bridor has been working with French baker Frédéric Lalos to develop three artisan breads, unveiled at the show. Le Pain de Partage Blé Grand Arôme, is a tear-and-share bread in a 300g format, made using a natural yeast and wheat flour to add softness and avoid acidity, while a durum wheat flour finishes the product. Le Pain Cerealier stoneground flour, in a 450g format contains a grain mix of sesame, brown flax, yellow flax, sunflower and wheat, and uses a house stoneground flour yeast. Le Pain Pochon buckwheat flour, also available in a 450g format is made with a mixed buckwheat yeast, featuring Camp Remy flour. Its four corner folds are shaped by hand.