the innovation award
Published:  11 September, 2009

Winner: Genius Gluten Free Loaf, United Central Bakeries, Bathgate, Edinburgh

It was the incredibly strong consumer emotions attached to Genius bread which made it a winner for the judges. Described by commercial director Paddy Cronin as "the first fresh gluten-free bread", the 400g unsliced loaf can be used as ordinary bread; consumer feedback revealed real joy in the ability to eat a freshly-cut sandwich, rather than having to toast a pre-sliced alternative.

Genius was developed by United in conjunction with chef Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, whom the judges called "a true innovator". The loaf uses potato starch and cornflour and its gluten is replaced with egg proteins. On sale in a national multiple, it is due to roll out later this year.

United Central Bakeries is part of the Finsbury Food Group and produces both conventional bakery and gluten- and wheat-free products for the major multiples and foodservice. It has 120 employees and a £10m turnover.

Finalist: Tascas

La Pizza Company, Midhurst, West Sussex

La Pizza Company has been supplying authentic Italian-recipe pizza bases, dough balls and garlic bread to the foodservice industry for 14 years. Now with 26 staff and a £2.5m annual turnover, the company has added speciality breads such as focaccia to its products.

Its new Tasca is a soft bread pocket for sandwich fillings, available in red onion, Caesar, plain and wholemeal varieties. The product is baked individually in circular pans, then folded over to a half-moon shape; it is treated before, during and after proving to ensure it never cracks down its seam and that it always peels apart. Chris Dickinson, operations and NPD director, describes it as providing consumers with a "very different spin" on an ordinary sandwich. "It is convenient but unusual, easy to handle but also has great cachet," he says.

Finalist: Hot Rap

Rapid Action Packaging, Mortlake, London

First-time entrant Rapid produces packaging solutions for the food-to-go industry, including flexible food wrap, cartons, paper and film. Its products are generally for cold food, such as baguettes, wraps and sandwiches, but the increasing popularity of 'grab-and-go' hot food led the company to develop its Hot Rap solution.

"The problem has always been glue melting in hot cabinets," explains sales executive Benn Ely, "but the Hot Rap is a combination of a flexible wrap and 'pop up' corrugated pack, which negates this."

The Hot Rap has been taken up by one multiple to pack its breakfast bap. Ely says it is particularly suited to baps, sausage rolls, savoury slices and pasties. "It's a new product for a rapidly growing sector and it has few competitors it sells itself."




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