February

Walker's updates Sensations

Crisps and snacks manufacturer Walker's has redesigned the packaging of its Sensations crisps brand as part of a multi-million-pound campaign to drive the brand's growth.

Reporting in

Alex Waugh

Starbucks fights back in US with value meal deals

Starbucks announced this week, that it would be introducing breakfast meal deals in its US stores for $3.95, in response to the financial pressures faced by its customers.

'Traditional bread' sales break £200m in ISBs

Last year saw the revival of traditional bread and rolls selling through supermarket in-store bakeries (ISBs), with sales of traditional breads breaking through the £200m barrier.

In Short

== Subway on a roll ==

Esquires Coffee Houses expands on UK franchise

Esquires Coffee Houses UK has announced plans to grow its franchise by another eight stores in the UK, by summer 2009.

Budget report

Alistair Darling revealed his plans for the UK economy in his first ever budget this week, but how will the baking industry be affected? See 21 March British Baker

48%

...the extra cost consumers pay for healthy foods such as wholemeal bread and brown rice compared with less healthy options; this has gone up from 18% in 1988, according to a survey published in Food Magazine

Feb 29

“We’ll do our damndest to be the lowest priced [grocer]. We will be as aggressive as possible with prices. I’m not going to squeeze suppliers, but I am going to be very assertive.”

On vegetarianism

Dr Allinson refused to eat meat as a point of principle, and that principle was safeguarding the health of his bowels. If you’re thinking of turning veggie for ethical reasons, then think again.

Meet your Baker

Out on DVD today is The Baker – a comedy about a hitman who has second thoughts about his career and hides out from his boss by finding work as a baker in a rural Welsh village. In light of Fosters Bakery’s successes in recruiting ex-offenders, have we stumbled across an answer to the skills shortages? Filmed in Cardiff and Abergavenny, it’s described by ex-Band of Brothers lead actor Damian Lewis as “Waking Ned meets Grosse Pointe Blank” and also stars Michael Gambon.

Top toasters: The Glide Toaster

No, this is not a skeleton fashioned as a toast rack. It is in fact an award-winning toaster designed by student George Watson of Northumbria University, made with slip-moulded bone china. The bread glides through heating plates and drops onto the rack. Comments from Watson show him to be nothing less than a toaster philosopher: “This toaster is designed to engage the user, re-invigorating the social context of toasting by questioning everything about what we toast with today.”

Jun 1933

Britain has repeated efforts to procure legislation prohibiting night work in bakeries.

No poor relation to cookery

Despite being a continually evolving industry, that has survived and adapted to modern technologies and ever-changing consumer tastes, bakery is often considered the poor relation to cooking.

People

Malcolm Proctor, Ciaran O'Kane

Ale and hearty

In 2002, Tristan Hogg and Jon Simon teamed up to start their pie business, inspired by quality native Australian pies and disappointed with the quality of the UK equivalent, they say. Chef Tristan used to feed hungry rock stars, while Jon was working in a London bar. The pair combined their talents to launch the first Pieminister in Bristol, branching out to open their Borough Market pie stall in 2004.

BIE goes large

More than 30 new exhibitors have signed up for the Baking Industry Exhibition (BIE), joining many big-name regular exhibitors.

Earning a crust

There's a certain amount of faith required when following the recipes in Richard Bertinet's new book Crust. The French baker, who runs a bakery and cookery school in Bath, is a firm believer in using a high percentage of water in his bread recipes, which he argues makes for light and airy loaves. Unfortunately, it also makes for a very sticky dough - so sticky in fact that there may be times when you think you have made a mistake in following the recipe.

Vegan indulgence

Take a passion for food, stir in a desire for indulgent treats to fit a vegan lifestyle and top it off with a concern to cater for those affected by food allergies and you have the recipe for the success of London-based Heavenly Cakes.

Waterfields' way

We are living in an age when consumers want to be associated with outer beauty and inner vitality, and just like the guests on the Channel 4 TV show 10 Years Younger, Waterfields bakery has been undergoing a dramatic facelift.

Face to Face

How and when did you become involved in the baking industry?

Show guides

There is a fine line between brilliant innovation and the utterly bizarre. This was evident from the Hotelympia 2008 exhibition, which showcased a vast range of products, including aluminium teabags and juice made from flowers.

Support needed

Having spent a lifetime in the trade - many of those years in training - we seem to have endlessly thrown the skills ball around, with few willing to take on the challenge. So what are these skills: are they craft, process, or apprenticeship and where are they coming from, together with the supporting knowledge and understanding?

GM Crops

In a recent speech to the National Farmers' Union, Iain Ferguson, CEO of Tate & Lyle and president of the UK's Food and Drink Federation, said: "We have to face up to the issue of genetic modification (GM) and rise to the challenge of helping to foster a fair and scientific debate on an issue that has typically been clouded by suspicion and a lack of trust. The current economic climate with rising food prices and concerns over long-term availability of commodities may well give us the opportunity to do this."

Lion Capital invests in Hiestand

Lion Capital, a UK-based private equity firm, has agreed to acquire a 32% stake in Swiss bakery firm The Hiestand Group.

Allied posts positive figures thanks to price increases

Allied Bakeries, the company behind Kingsmill, Burgen, Allinson and Sunblest, which is part of Associated British Foods (ABF), has shown "substantial improvement" over the past year in provisional figures announced ahead of the interim results to 1 March 2008.

Real Food Fest

Daylesford Organic will support the Real Food Festival in London from 24-27 April.

viewpoint

The wheat market at the moment can best be described as volatile (pg 4). Prices in North America have shown sudden escalation - a consequence of low global wheat stocks coupled with an increase in speculative fund activity in soft commodity markets.

Reporting in

Gundula Azeez, policy manager, The Soil AssociationGundula Azeez, policy manager, The Soil Association

Oven training

Bakery oven supplier Rational has set up an academy for bakers to learn how to use its Self-Cooking Center.

Pret A Manger deal to fuel overseas growth

Sandwich chain Pret A Manger has been taken over by private equity firm Bridgepoint in a deal valued at £345m, which will accelerate Pret's expansion plans in the UK and internationally.

Health watch

Consumers are growing increasingly sceptical of health claims on food and drink packaging, according to a report from Datamonitor.

Last chance for live contest

Bakers have a last chance to enter California Raisins' live competition, which will be held at William Reed's Baking Industry Exhibition (BIE) at the Birmingham NEC from 6-9 April 2008.

Maple Leaf UK rides out cost pressures

Canadian-owned Maple Leaf Foods has announced fourth-quarter results for 2007, which revealed an 11% increase in Bakery Product Group sales to $393m (£200m) up from $355m (£180m) in the last quarter of 2006.

Public happy to pay for Fairtrade

Research conducted by Café- direct found that almost nine out of 10 consumers said they would pay a few pence more for quality Fairtrade products.

Pie plant may close

The future of a pie and pasty plant in the Midlands is in doubt following a downturn in trade.

Bagel Nash plans 50 outlets in the next three years

As part of a national expansion programme, Leeds-based Bagel Nash hopes to open an extra 43 shops, up from the current total of seven, over the next three years.

Industry stunned as US wheat prices soar by 23% in one day

The price of wheat for bread-making flour in the US has "exploded" over the past two weeks shooting up 66%, according to Alex Waugh, director general of the National Association of British and Irish Millers (nabim).

Briefs

n Consumer concern about food miles has doubled in the last five years, according to the latest research from international food and grocery expert IGD. One in six Britons (16%) now say the distance food travels is one of their top five concerns about food production, up from 9% in 2003.

May–Jun 1933

* By personal experience I have discovered that

Baker’s mouth’s a goldmine

Hung(a)ry for a way out of the day-to-day bakery grind? Got a mouthful of dodgy molars? Then follow Bill Farnworth, a 58-year-old former bakery engineer from Hindley, who is upping sticks to an idyllic Hungarian village “complete with a deer forest and lake... part paid for by money he saved on his teeth,” reported the Wigan Observer. Desperate to cut his whopping £12,000 quote for dental work, he travelled to Hungary where he managed to halve the bill. He said: “I gave it a go and they said that while I was out there, why didn’t I have a look at the property market?” The £6,000-plus saved helped purchase a run-down property, which he converted into a plush home – worth the equivalent of £400,000 in the UK. But we can’t help thinking that if he’d taken Dr Allinson’s dental advice last week, he’d now be living in a castle.

On ‘sick note Britain’

Smartly dressed, neatly bearded and with a digestive system to die for, Dr Allinson fired off pearls of wisdom as regularly as his bowels. Our nation of work dodgers – a rising percentage of which cannot even drag themselves out of bed in the mornings – should heed the following advice: go skinny dipping.

Gloves off?

There were bemusing bakery goings-on at the Royal Courts of Justice last week, when embattled ex-Beatle Paul McCartney bizarrely turned up for his divorce hearing with Heather Mills, clutching a Village Bakery oven glove. So why the mitt? Apparently he uses it to keep his papers safe. When BB got hold of Village Bakery MD Michael Bell on Friday afternoon, the Currant Bun (The Sun) had already been in touch. Clearly already having got his tabloid patois down pat, the tickled bakery owner commented: “I’m not sure whether it was just because she [Mills] was too hot to handle. Or was it just because the gloves were off?”

Top toasters: The Full English breakfast toaster

The recently-laun-ched Back to Basics Egg n’ Muffin Toaster is a bog-standard toaster with an egg cooker unceremoniously bolted onto the side. This can cook a full English, sausages, hash browns or tomatoes and the pan detaches for easy cleaning. But why stop there? Where’s yer ketchup dispenser, builder’s tea maker and indigestion tablets?

In the mood for Strudel

Apple strudel is thought to have derived from Bavaria or Austria. Made with a very thin elastic and springy pastry and filled with apple, this classic pastry makes a heart-warming winter dessert.

Organic at heart

Honeyrose Bakery, the organic cake baker based in Park Royal, London, is significantly stepping up its operations to meet the growing market for organic hand-baked cakes. The firm, founded in 2000, has outgrown its current bakery, having "knocked through into neighbours until we've run out of neighbours", as Adrian Apodaca, Honeyrose's marketing director, puts it.

Fostering skills

Momentum is gathering around the National Skills Academy Training Centre for Bakery. Whether this ends up based at Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association (CCFRA), as mooted, or emerges as a handful of satellite colleges, scattered across a wider geographic reach, is still up for debate. Fosters Bakery, for one, would like to see a national skills centre set up in Barnsley. This is not surprising - Fosters is based in Barnsley.

Controversial code

T he Competition Commission's (CC's) two-year-long investigation into the grocery market inched towards a final conclusion last week, with the publication of its long-awaited final remedies statement. On the surface, bakery suppliers should be happier with the recommendations than high street bakers, who face the daunting prospect of even more supermarkets springing up around them.

Canary is a goldmine

I have always shared with you my latest ideas to make our fortune. But now I know they have not worked as well as I had hoped. If they had, I would not be writing this and you would not be reading it; we would all be in the south of France in our villas.

Green Watch

New research from business analyst Mintel claims that 84% of British adults look at packaging to see its recycling credentials.

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