Sats off the fence

Paul Wilkinson: Are we able to meet the target of the 10% saturates reduction in cakes, biscuits and pastries without significantly compromising on the taste of the product? What do you not the businesses you work for think? Show of hands, how many people think this will be a very difficult thing to do by 2012? [Nine show hands]. How many think it's a pretty normal challenge at the end of the day? [Five show hands]. I just wanted to get some sort of idea. So is the industry geared up to do this?
Matt Verney: I think it will be difficult to reduce it without affecting product quality, because we do a range of buttered croissants, Danish pastries and Viennoiserie. A lot of research has been put in place beforehand to find the right level [of fat], and if we are going to have to reduce it by 10%, this is going to affect quality, taste, flavour and texture. So we have huge concerns about reducing the fat content.
Ivor McKane: I see saturated fats and calories as being two separate topics and I think there is a danger if we fail to separate saturates and calorie reductions as being two different streams.
Peter Quinn: It's difficult and it's going to be product-specific. There will be products that are easier and products that will be extremely difficult to do.
Having already been through a fat reduction exercise with the Melton Mowbray Pork Pies Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, we've learned a lot and also understand the consumers' prospective. They are very sensitive to that, so this process could have a negative effect on the bottom line. Technically, yes it's possible, but if the consumer doesn't like it, it's wrong.
Stan Cauvain: I don't think we should underestimate the scale of the technical challenges, especially when delivering what are accepted sensory characteristics. Consumers have a perception of how things should taste. While, technically, we may reduce levels of saturated fats, if that doesn't deliver those accepted characteristics, consumers will walk away.
Biscuit products will probably give you the most immediate opportunities for fat reduction where the functionality of fat, in terms of developing the structure, is less than it is in, say, a laminated product. [It will be easier] in those products where structural functionality does not come primarily from fats.
Steve Knapton: Compared to some competitors, businesses that have already lowered fats can be a victim of their own success, because they've already achieved that.
Chris Beresford: My biggest worry is that once it is reduced, the FSA may come back and ask for another 10%.


Consumers continue to see health and wellness as an important issue, according to new research by Tate & Lyle. The findings also revealed that consumers will pay more for foods that display health benefits on their labels.
The research, conducted in July this year, forms part of Tate & Lyle's ongoing research into European consumers' attitudes towards labelling, ingredients and shopping habits.
A total of 1,565 consumers were surveyed across five countries: Germany, France, the UK, Spain and Italy. An increasing awareness of and sophistication in attitudes to diet and perceptions of food labelling were evident from the research. Fifty-three per cent of consumers often check nutritional information on-pack and 57% check the ingredients list.
Looking at what's important to consumers at least half of the respondents see less fat and sugar as important issues. Interestingly, around 80% said they would be prepared to pay more for products that boasted specific claims such as 'improving cardiovascular health' and 'helps to control cholesterol'. A fifth of the people asked also said they would be prepared to compromise on taste if the product was healthy.
In addition, the survey found that consumers specifically young people feel their diet is lacking in fibre.

Food in the news

Savouries manufacturers, take note: The Times devoted its front page on October 27 to a story headlined 'Give up meat to save the planet', based on an interview with influential climate change expert Lord Stern. Stern predicted that a successful deal at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December would lead to soaring costs for meat and other foods that generate large quantities of greenhouse gases. "Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world's resources. A vegetarian diet is better," he said.
Meanwhile The Daily Express reported that a diet of so called 'junk food', such as doughnuts and cakes, is "almost as addictive as heroin". The story was based on research from neuro-scientist Paul Kenny, which found that foods high in fat and sugar are addictive.
In other news, The Daily Mail reported that eating high-fat foods causes significant short-term problems, reducing physical endurance and your ability to think clearly in just a few days. Research from Oxford University found that rats fed a high-fat diet showed signs of cognitive impairment in a matter of days.
Finally, The Independent reported on new research linking high fructose corn syrup to high blood pressure.

Reporting in FSA salt campaign is unhelpful

Since the Food Standards Agency's (FSA) salt reduction campaign began in 2004, the Federation of Bakers (FoB) has worked closely with the FSA to ensure all of its targets have been met across all bread. Since then, salt in bread has been reduced by more than 30%, with 180 tonnes removed in branded bread alone, ensuring the industry is on track to achieve the 2010 targets. The FoB's members are pleased to help consumers make healthier choices, while ensuring they continue to produce products of the highest quality.
Against this positive background, the FSA launched its latest high-profile advertising campaign on salt reduction, which clearly establishes bread as a villain that consumers should be wary of. As such, the FoB believed it necessary to withdraw support from the FSA salt campaign as we felt the sensationalist advertising was unfair and unhelpful. Placing a disproportionate amount of blame on very few food products does not help consumers make an informed choice and does not recognise the efforts made by the bread industry towards reducing salt.
Bread will always be a main contributor of salt to the diet, purely because it is a daily staple. That does not mean bread is the food with the highest salt content and consumers must not be left with the over-simplified impression that it's an unhealthy food and best avoided.
We firmly oppose the current consumer awareness campaign. The FSA must work collaboratively with the industry and we need to work out how we can do this so both parties are happy. The end result must be a product that consumers will enjoy and repeatedly buy, which is also as low in salt as it can possibly be a fine balancing act but one which we feel is not impossible to achieve.

Irwin's boosts turnover by £1m

Northern Irish bakery Irwin's has added £1m to its turnover in the past year, after launching smaller loaf sizes of its key brands.
The company launched 400g and 600g versions of its Nutty Krust brand for the first time last year, followed by 400g Sandwich and Hi-Fibre loaves in April a move that has led to the production of 1.5 million more loaves and £1m of new revenue on the company's balance sheet in the past 12 months. Previously, the bakery's bread was only available in 800g loaves.
Irwin's said that the introduction of the 400g Sandwich and Hi-Fibre loaves, along with soft pan Irwin's Softee, had also boosted overall pan sales by 26% in the past six months.
"More choice, shrinking household sizes, greater concern about food wastage and the recession itself are changing how we eat," said Michael Murphy, Irwin's commercial controller. "Our half-sized everyday loaves provide householders with more choice and control over how they purchase and use breads. It's also a product innovation that is bringing smaller households back to bread and providing an effective 'trial size' for completely new customers locally and in our target GB and ROI export markets."

Irish sandwich company hit by soaring costs

Doolittles, the third largest pre-packed sandwich company in Ireland, has gone into liquidation, blaming excessive costs and unsustainable pressure on margins from imported sandwiches.
The Donegal-based company, set up in 2001, grew to supply over 200 outlets including Aldi, petrol forecourts and universities. It closed down last month with the loss of 34 jobs.
Founder and chief executive director Jenni Timony said: "While some success has been achieved in building the brand and generating new business, the high cost of doing business combined with the downward pressure on selling prices has resulted in an unsustainable tightening of margins. Every effort will be made to minimise the impact on employees, suppliers and customers."
According to documents filed at Companies Office, Doolittles owed creditors e586,000 (£527,882). Its profit and loss account showed a loss of e383,000 (£345,015) in 2008 more than double the losses it was running a year earlier. The failure of the company came despite signing a deal in September 2008 worth £300,000 to supply sandwiches for over 600 Aer Arann flights a week. This was predicted to boost turnover to e2.5-e3m (£2.25-£2.7m).
Doolittles supplied 30 different kinds of sandwich, including low fat and low GI products, as well as filled rolls and salads. Fillings were made in-house, with Gallagher's bakery in Ardara supplying bread and O'Donnell's bakery in Ballyshannon, supplying rolls and baps. Neither was available for comment.

Riverside jobs in question

Middlesbrough-based Riverside Bakery has gone into administration, with 35 jobs in the balance.
National accountant Baker Tilly has been appointed administrator and hopes to sell the business as a going concern. The firm has traded as a wholesale baker of bread buns for 25 years, supplying schools, colleges, sandwich shops and other food retailers.
Joint administrator Mark Ran-son said the bakery had found the current economic conditions very difficult. "However, we are optimistic about selling the business as a going concern and safeguarding jobs. The bakery has a strong reputation across the north east and has invested in modern production facilities."

In Short

Rowe's success
Rowe's branded savoury bakery concession, introduced in July at Asda, St Austell (Cornwall), has beaten pre-opening sales estimates, with weekly figures up to 40% higher than predicted.

Brits' love for coffee shops continues

The UK's love affair with coffee shops shows no sign of abating with the number of stores in the UK up 7% in 2009 more than double the rate of increase compared to last year.
According to the Local Data Company, the number of coffee shops in the UK increased by 3% in 2008 and 7% in 2009. The total number of independent coffee shops stands at 9,441 in the 705 researched town centres, compared to just over 2,000 chain outlets. The top six coffee shop chains, including Costa Coffee and Starbucks, saw their combined retail estate increase by 47% this year, while independents also saw store numbers rise by 12.5% in the top 10 cities to 2,486, and their market share up 1% to 70%.
Costa is the largest player with around 950 outlets, while Star-bucks was in second place with just under 719 outlets, according to British Baker's Top 50 table.

Multiple ISBs defy crisis with rise in core goods

Supermarket in-store bakeries have bucked the recession with sales up by nearly 5% in the past year, as shoppers search out fresh affordable products.
According to IRI research, commissioned by Bakehouse, sales of core ISB categories grew by 4.8% in the 52 weeks ending 5 September, compared to the previous year, to reach £1bn.
Star performers in the sector included: rolls, with sales growth of 9% to reach £239m; muffins, up 21% to over £52.5m; and Danish pastries, up 10% to £45m.
The only categories in the sector that didn't see an increase in sales were: bagels (-8%); cookies (-3%); and traybakes (-6%).
"People still want to treat themselves during the tough economic times and the in-store bakery is a nice way of doing that," said Bakehouse brand manager Claire Warren.
"You get that sweet shop experience with loose products and the aroma of baking bread. Shoppers are looking for fresh, affordable, handmade products and ISBs tick all these boxes."

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