FSA's latest anti-salt drive angers baking industry

By Georgi Gyton

In Short

SoHo expands offer
The SoHo Sandwich Company is branching out with a range of new products, which include a spinach and goats cheese tart with caramelised onions, brownies and a chocolate tart. The business supplies gourmet sandwiches, salads and sushi to private and corporate functions, as well as the wholesale and retail markets. It will also offer sausage rolls and pastries soon.

Northern Foods reveals strong bakery rise

Northern Foods has reported strong underlying growth in its bakery division, with revenue up by 3.9% for the 26 weeks to 26 September 2009.

National Trust to launch bakery lines

The National Trust is to launch its first branded bakery range in early 2010, and is on the look-out for bakeries to get involved.

The bakery range, which will sit alongside a wider branded food and drink line, will consist of three breads and five biscuit varieties, inspired by the Trust’s own produce and from traditional recipes held in its archive.

The development of the bakery range has been licensed to Rivermill, a food licensing and sales agency specialist, and MD Andrew Chesters told British Baker he was keen to hear from firms interested in producing products for the range.

Breads on offer will be a National Trust Stoneground Wholemeal Loaf, Milk Loaf and Barm Bread, part of a wider range of bakery goods from Rivermill.

The biscuit range will comprise Stem Ginger and Orange Marma-lade, Clotted Cream Rounds, Lancashire Lemon Curds, Golden Honey Oaties and Oat Crumbles.

Interested parties can contact andrew.chesters@rivermill.co.uk or call 0207 025 8718.

Tan Y Castell gets on board with Arriva

Pembrokeshire bakery Tan Y Castell Welshcakes has struck a deal with Arriva Trains to supply its ‘Welshcakes Snack Pack’ on board all the company’s trains across Wales.

The pack containing two Welshcakes has just been launched by the bakery and had been developed to cater for the snacking-on-the-go market.

“Consumers are becoming increasingly busy with work and general lifestyle. We felt there was a gap in the market for such a product, which is easily available and ready to eat,” said Tan Y Castell managing director Paul Mear.

“Arriva Trains is the first to take on board our Snack Pack of Welshcakes and we look forward to working together with them.”

The Welschcakes are made to an original farmhouse recipe and contain no additives or preservatives. The bakery also supplies to wholesalers in ambient and frozen formats.

Warrens’ staff gain on-the-job NVQs

Warrens Bakery staff have become the first to get a new-style qualification without spending time in the classroom, doing coursework, or exams.

Forty-two of the Cornish company’s store managers and assistant managers have just finished an NVQ Level 2 course in Food Manufacture Retail and Service Support Skills, with assessment based only on observation by their managers.

The course, developed by Cornwall College Business in conjunction with the food and drink sector skills council Improve, dovetails with Warrens’ internal training programme. It takes place on the job, and progress is recorded as employees carry out activities, or ‘taskways,’ correctly on more than one occasion.

Warrens’ eight area managers have been trained to teach and assess the NVQ. Senior area manager Andrew Cane said: “This qualification used to involve a lot of paperwork, which many employees were just not comfortable with. This is a million times better and we now just have to watch and ask questions.”

Warrens’ Heamoor store manager Alistair Sedgeman added: “It felt like I was just assessed on what I normally do day-to-day. It has helped sharpen my skills.”

Family-owned firm Warrens has 450 retail staff across 50 outlets and all will complete the course.

Northern reveals strong bakery rise

Northern Foods has reported strong underlying growth in its bakery division, with revenue up 3.9% for the 26 weeks to 26 September 2009.

Brand investment in Fox’s biscuits helped it achieve its highest brand share since 2006, and the firm also announced that a new marketing campaign for its Matthew Walker puddings brand will be launched ahead of the Christmas trading period.

According to Northern Foods, new discount lines in sandwiches and salads helped drive revenue in its chilled division, up 8.8%.

However, its “rationalisation programme” and the closure of a pizza manufacturing site at Poldys in Ireland last year contributed to the 7.5% drop in revenue within its frozen arm.

The firm also relinquished a number of marginal own-label contracts and terminated its Birds Eye co-pack agreement to supply individual frozen pies, thus enabling its McDougall’s brand to compete in this segment.

FSA launches major consumer campaign on salt

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has kicked-off a massive campaign to educate consumers about the ‘hidden salt’ in foods such as bread, sandwiches and pizza.

The campaign, which goes live this week, features television advertising focused on pizza and sandwiches, and radio and print advertising on bread. It urges consumers to pay closer attention to the salt levels of foods they buy and to choose foods that are lower in salt.

The thrust of the campaign is based on survey results that reveal 77% of consumers are unaware that bread and breakfast cereals are among the top salt-contributing foods in people’s diet, according the FSA. 

“We’re not suggesting people stop eating or even cut down on bread or breakfast cereals, as they are an important part of a healthy diet. But we are saying take a look at the labels to find one that is lower in salt,” commented Rosemary Hignett, head of nutrition at the Food Standards Agency.

The FSA also commented that “supermarket own-label versions of some foods, including bread, are often lower in salt than the branded versions”.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has voiced its support for food manufacturers who have reformulated recipes to lower salt.

“Our members are totally committed to helping consumers eat more healthily – and reformulation is just one of the ways in which we will continue to make a real difference,” said director of communications, Julian Hunt.

To read the full story and the industry’s reaction to this campaign, read the next issue of British Baker, out 9 October.

Richemont Club competition winners announced

The winners of this year's Richemont Club of Great Britain competition have been announced, following judging at Bakers’ Fair in Manchester over the weekend.

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