November

In my world

Fond as I am of jaunty ribbon, there's only one kind I want to see in my business the blue stuff, prettily embossed with our Judges Bakery logo, rather than the giant rolls of red tape, which everyone from the local council to Brussels via the Food Standards Agency (FSA) wants to macramé around us, making trading ever more challenging.
Because now, we're told, the 'food police' aka the FSA want to limit the amount of salt and saturated fat in foods (including bread): yet more ways to make it harder for us to do what we do, in an already challenging trading climate. I don't know if you've tried salt-free bread lately, but on the incredibly rare occasion our bakers have accidentally produced a batch without this vital ingredient, a) it doesn't rise properly and b) you wouldn't want to eat it anyway, because it's basically tasteless. In addition, except in the case of some people with high blood pressure, there's no evidence that salt is harmful; indeed, sodium allows the body to take in fresh fluids, eliminate fluid waste and stay in balance, maintaining blood pressure, avoiding dehydration and keeping the kidneys healthy.
When it comes to fat, I have more mixed feelings being against the use of hydrogenated fats (which contain trans-fats, with their negative implications for health) and worried about the environmental impact of trade in palm oil, which is the practical alternative ingredient. We get around this at Judges by using a small amount of organic palm fat, which must to comply with organic regulation come from sustainable plantations, rather than rainforest areas that have been destroyed in favour of a palm monoculture. But at the end of the day, I'm against a 'nanny state' that imposes yet more rules on the people. My own theory is that it's all a clever distraction from the disastrous way the government handles the big stuff such as the economy and wars, or the spread of MRSA in hospitals, which kills more people than a little extra salt or even hydrogenated fat ever will.
It's unlikely that the FSA guidelines will become mandatory. But if they do, we'll all have to reformulate our recipes, to comply with all of the extra man hours and expense that entails. Just as we're all forced to splash out on 'Spills' signs and don't-trip-over-the-step yellow-and-black tape and super-sensitive thermometers to take the temperature of our chiller cabinets in order to tick an EHO box three times a day. There surely cannot be an employer in the UK who hasn't sworn at the layer upon layer of red tape we already have to comply with, muttering under their breath while perusing a 600-page Seton Health & Safety catalogue of equipment full of ludicrously expensive 'Danger' placards, stickers, protective clothing and illuminated signs.
So, am I the only one who sees red about all the extra tape that we're faced with, when all we want to do is bake good bread just like bakers have been doing for millennia long before anyone had invented the word bureaucracy?

Pulp Fruits promotes healthy food-to-go

Pulp Fruits has launched a new fruity snack for the food-to-go market. Pulp is exactly what it says on the pouch: blended fruit. It isn't diluted with juice or water and contains no added sugar.
Pulp pouches are available in three varieties: banana, mango and passion fruit; banana, strawberry and raspberry; and apple, strawberry and blueberry. The 'pulp' has been gently pasteurised, so they can be stored for a few months before use. They don't require refrigeration, but can be sold chilled, and contain one of the recommended five a day.

Fox's plans for Christmas

Biscut brand Fox's has said it will add value to the seasonal biscuit category with the launch of two Christmas selection boxes Fox's Wonders and Fox's Fabulously Special.
Rachel Moffatt, Fox's brand sector director, said: "Fox's is the number one seasonal biscuit manufacturer in the UK, with a 32% market share. We play a key role in the category, proven by last year's Christmas performance, when we drove 22% growth in value in a flat market." All figures are from AC Nielsen.
Fox's Wonders is being supported by a six-figure PR campaign, including a series of Christmas radio promotions on commercial stations, while a consumer campaign aims to raise awareness of both products through lifestyle publications.

L'Aquila tops off bakery

L'Aquila, an importer and distributor of Mediterranean vegetable ingredients, has launched a new range designed to fill or top lunchtime bakery snacks, including pizza, focaccia and sandwiches.
These include: borlotti baked beans in a rich Italian-style tomato sauce; semi-dried spinach; chargrilled Italian aubergines and courgettes; Sicilian caponata; and Sicilian cherry tomato and green olive tapenade.
Other products on offer from L'Aquila include dried and frozen wild and exotic cultivated mushrooms, truffles, chargrilled, marinated Mediterranean vegetables, sun-dried and semi-dried tomatoes, pestos, pastes, saffron and paprika.
The company supplies independent retailers, multiples, department stores, catering wholesalers and food manufacturers.

Frozen range extended

Country Range Group has added a number of new products to its own-brand portfolio of frozen foods. Following an increase in the sale of frozen products across the group, Country Range has introduced four-inch sausage rolls, a steak and kidney pie, a cheese and onion pasty, cheese and onion lattice fingers, quiche lorraine, cheese and onion quiches and a tomato and basil quiche to its range.
Managing director Colin Birchall said: "Research shows the misconception that frozen isn't as good a quality or as healthy is dying fast, and it's now widely recognised that it actually locks in nutrients and vitamins, with the added benefits of convenience, choice and availability."

Holland's brings out 'Best Ever' range

Holland's Pies has launched a 'Best Ever Authentic Recipe' pies and puddings range, which is now available to retailers throughout the region. The range includes meat pies, potato and meat pies and steak & kidney pudding. The 'Best Ever' range of frozen products now has deeper fillings and more chunks of meat. It was developed with the help of Holland's 'pie panel' of tasters.
"Our aim is to attract sales from an even wider consumer base without losing those loyal to the current product. That has meant taking a step 'back to the future' by revisiting our original 158-year-old recipes, to create a new 'Best Ever Authentic Recipe' range which can be eaten and enjoyed by all," commented Neil Court Johnston, managing director of Holland's.
The launch is being supported by a marketing and communications campaign which includes outdoor posters, radio and advertising and an online presence.

Snack attack!

We all talk about meal occasions, dashboard dining and grazing, but there is a huge opportunity to increase our daily sales by a third. Did you know that 30% of our customers visiting cafés, bakeries or convenience stores are looking to enjoy a snack in between meals? Our colleagues at market research firm him! also tell us that breakfast makes up 9% of bakery sales between 6am and 10am. The majority of customers still want and need to take a break from their busy routines.
But how do you capitalise on that? According to him!, bakery customers spend up to £5.26 in one visit, which can relate to three items. Knowing this, all you need to do is make it easy for your customers to link the products together. Ensure your displays are full and fresh for your busiest parts of the day. Introduce parasite units baskets or containers that fit on to front of counters, displays and shelving to merchandise savoury or healthy snacks, multigrain bars, energy drinks, fruit, nuts and impulse indulgent cakes to tempt customers and increase that average spend. It's so easy for the customer to say "Yes", when the goods are right in front of them.
So what does the perfect snack offer look like? According to him!'s Coffee Shop Report '09, 54% of the bakery consumers are health-conscious, 31% would like information about calorific and fat content, with a further 23% interested in nutritional information.
"But what about bakery?" we hear you cry. Well, those products can be healthy too. For instance, why not introduce a freshly baked cereal bar with a smoothie in a meal deal combination. Moreover, 34% of the bakery customers would consider buying a hot soup, which is a perfect snack to offer with rich seeded breads during the cold winter months ahead.
Take a healthier look at your offer and consider how to introduce snack deals, porridge, soups and seeded breads, freshly baked cereal bars, fruit & nuts the list is endless,
Finally, to encourage even more customers in, you may want to consider a small but perfectly formed chill-out area and overwhelm your guests with best-in-class customer service, so that, when that snack attack strikes, they'll take a break with you!

RedBlack updates Cybake

York-based RedBlack Software has developed a new version of its Cybake bakery management software.
New functions of Cybake v3 include specifications management, allergen tracking, advanced invoice management, invoice matching, ad hoc sales queries, credit control, supplier relationship management and celebration cakes management.
The software also features a revamped Microsoft SQL Server/.NET architecture for increased scaleability and improved business intelligence capabilities.
The business has also launched a new ordering system, which interfaces with EPOS systems to let head office collect sales data directly from its bakery shops' tills. Order-takers can now analyse shops' orders as they come in, make recommendations and adjustments with their shop managers and tighten up on the ordering process.

Peter's slices up market

Peter's Food is targeting a younger market with a new line of slices. These will form part of Peter's Premier Range, which includes pies, pasties and sausage rolls. The slices come in eight different varieties: Spicy Chicken Fajita using Discovery seasoning, Ham and Pilgrim's Choice Cheese, Chicken and Mushroom, Chicken Tikka, Chilli Beef, Cheesy Bean and Sausage, Steak and Peppered Steak.
The range was launched in Tesco stores across Wales, as well as several convenience stores and independent retailers across England and Wales last month.

Tweedy's new control

Baker Perkins has developed a new control system for its Tweedy mixing systems renamed Tweedy2. It has been designed so that plant bakers using the system for the Chorleywood Bread Process will benefit from improved consistency and quality, as well as enhanced efficiency and ease of use.
The new controls cover: ingredients handling and weighing, mixing and tub hoist, and can be retrofitted to existing Tweedy installations. The company says that operationally, one of the major gains is more immediate updating of all recipe and process settings. Changes can be made up to the moment mixing starts, whereas conventionally, there may be up to a two-mix delay while settings are amended.
Fault-finding has been enhanced by the filtering of alarms to display the primary cause of a stoppage, but not the consequential alarms. This significantly reduces the time needed for operators to identify and rectify a problem. Process alarms have also been added to alert operators to potential variations that can affect the dough and enables them to prevent stoppages downstream.

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