Following company growth over the past two years and the changing demands of the bakery market, bakery supplier Dawn Foods recently organised training for its senior executives to share information, skills, experience, knowledge and learning across Europe.

Thirty-five senior executives from the ingredients and finished products’ company operations in Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany, Holland and France attended a two-day training session at Birmingham University in December. Training was organised by seven members of Dawn Foods’ technical development team.

The training was aimed at all levels of experience and exposed everyone to the practical elements of baking to help them identify and gain a better understanding of the issues faced by bakers on a day-to-day basis.

All the attendees were divided into groups of bakers, non-bakers and technical/food science people. Each group was required to explore a variety of products and was asked to define the product’s benefits, describe its smell, taste and texture, evaluate the product’s features, identify potential difficulties of new product innovations and present solutions to overcome any potential problems.

Each group was asked to give a presentation to their colleagues at the end of each session, which was followed by an open discussion and general group feedback. People from all different backgrounds and areas of the business could listen to, learn about and appreciate their colleagues’ contrasting perspectives and opinions on the products.

In particular, the training enabled senior executives, such as Karl Brown, Dawn Foods’ president for Europe, to come face to face with the actual products and their different applications. He could fully appreciate the time and work invested in generating each product. The fun part came when each group had to get their hands dirty and have a go at the actual baking – proving exceptionally trickier than many of the non-bakers originally expected!

The training allowed the team to come together and gave everyone the opportunity to exchange ideas, opinions, knowledge and expertise. The technical team from the UK was able to pick up tips from European teams and vice versa, so communication was a key to the success of the day.

The training took place at the recently renovated state-of-the-art facilities at the University of Birmingham. There, recent investment in facilities has resulted in an increase in applicants to the course.