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14 September, 2007
Page 10 
At the same time that the national press is filled with horror stories about additives, the baking industry is having to turn to improvers to help prevent loaves collapsing after the new harvest (pg 4).
Wastage this year seems particularly bad. Nature has played such strange tricks with the wet weather that consistency - demanded by most supermarkets and their customers - has gone to pot.Waitrose customers may well be happy to put up with a superb-tasting wonky apple from a British orchard, but I bet you that the very same customer would pass up an oddly-shaped loaf for a perfect one.And this industry cannot afford high wastage on top of all the other costs at the moment - it needs maximum efficiency. That means consistent loaves, delivered at the right time, in the right quantity.Customers cannot be kept waiting, whether that 'customer' is a supermarket or a high-street shopper queueing in a craft bakery. Any talk about wet weather or low hagberg falling number is of little interest to them when bread is due on the shelf.And, of course, it would happen this week, just as the national newspapers are turning on additives. I know that many of you, as ingredient suppliers or bakers, are either going for or have achieved, clean label. But among the products singled out by one Sunday paper, beneath the large headline; "Why not just ban additives?" were malt loaves, naan bread, caramel shortcake, chocolate chip cookies, Danish pastries and apple turnovers, which the writer accused of being "deliberately packaged to look as if they were fresh from the oven". I thought that was effective merchandising!The article went on to assert that banning E numbers was easily possible and had already taken place in the USA, Japan, Austria, Norway and Finland, where they have been replaced by natural alternatives.There is also a battle between long-life goods demanded by UK consumers and short-term fresh products - I opt for fresh every time, but I recognise that my neighbours want long life because it suits their lifestyles. That's choice!



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