December

D-day for Lallemand

If you've read the papers recently you'll have seen lots of stories stating that many of us do not have enough Vitamin D. Prior to the 1800s, people spent their lives largely in agricultural communities, working or playing outdoors, with the main source of Vitamin D being the sun. The ultra violet rays in sunlight naturally convert cholesterol in the skin to Vitamin D. This is the most important source of Vitamin D for people.
The only significant dietary sources of Vitamin D are oily fish and fortified products such as margarine and breakfast cereals. For people living in countries far north of the equator, such as Iceland, who get less sun, dietary sources of Vitamin D such as oily fish are important for health and wellbeing.
But times have changed. Now we are often in bakeries, offices or cars. Many of our foods are fortified, because processing takes out natural goodness. Breakfast cereals are commonly fortified with iron, niacin and Vitamin D, among others. And here's the rub: flour is fortified, too, but bakers never shout about it on the pack. It was a point made forcibly by Scott Clarke, bakery director of Tesco, at this year's Federation of Bakers conference. Breakfast cereals compete with bread, he said, but Kellogg's and others make their cereals sound healthier. Bakers, he pointed out, are missing a vital sales trick.
But with Vitamin D now in the spotlight, Lallemand, which owns Britain's biggest yeast-making plant based at Felixstowe, formerly GB Ingredients, has pioneered a way to give yeast itself natural Vitamin D by treating it with ultra-violet light. The yeast will be available in normal block, cream and instant dried formats.
But why is Vitamin D so vital? It's because deficiencies are said to contribute to osteoporosis, some cancers, especially breast, colon and prostate and a weaker immune system. The amount inherent in all Lallemand's yeast is at least 30 IU (international units) per 100g serving of bread, which is enough to ensure a necessary level but nowhere near enough to exceed the safe upper limit of 2,000 IU recommended by the EU scientific experts even if you do spend a lot of time outdoors, eat oily fish or take a multivitamin supplement.
So who is Lallemand and why have they pioneered the new yeast? Lallemand UK MD Dr Mike Chell explains that the company is a major worldwide yeast supplier, which invests many millions in plants and research. "After the EU Commission took a keen interest in all yeast acquisitions across Europe, Lesaffre GB Ingredients' then owner agreed to sell the company.
"Lallemand was waiting in the wings to buy GB," he adds. "Our Felixstowe plant is one of only two yeast plants in the UK and is the biggest. We supply both the UK and Ireland. The company is set to benefit enormously from all Lallemand's international R&D and expertise."

Muffin tops

Breathe a sigh of relief with that headline, we're not building up to a discussion on what might poke out above Kerry Katona's trousers, but rather the more palatable proposition of cake muffins being one of the top performers in the cake market over the past year.
Given that it's a pretty mature category, valued at £64m, why has it seen a 20%-plus spurt over the last year? It's largely down to the huge increase in opportunities to purchase, says Mike Benton, marketing controller at McVitie's Cake Company. McVitie's has developed the branded muffin market to the point where it has the top four muffin SKUs in what he calls the "eat now" market Galaxy, Mars, Jaffa Cakes and Choc Chip Muffins in that order and has a 51% share of the total branded muffin market. One way it has differentiated in an increasingly commoditised category is by injecting a filling and topping with chocolate.
"The growth and expansion of the multiple grocers, local, express and travel outlets plus the growth of café culture within the UK and all outlets offering muffins as a staple item, has led to the growth of the muffin market," he says. What's more, the number of varieties on offer continues to expand, often with seasonal variations, "all leading to increased awareness of muffins within the UK market", he adds.
Strong growth has also come from the coffee shop sector, says Simon Cannell, head of bakery at foodservice wholesaler Brakes, which led with a range of five tulip muffins when launching its La Boulangerie bakery division earlier this year. "We've seen phenomenal growth on those and they've been our most successful range since launch," he says. Many of those muffins have gone into high street department store coffee shops and contract catering. "We know that the coffee shop market is outperforming the rest of the industry anyway, but a lot of the reason why ours have done so well is because they are flow-wrapped, so they've got a four-day shelf-life from thaw. They've also got good visual characteristics."
So is this boom something that is being reflected in craft retail? "It is, yes they're certainly going in the direction of becoming one of our top sellers," says Neil Wood, head of retail sales for 16-shop and bakery wholesaler Wright's, based in Crewe. "We're very proactive in introducing new products and people's eating habits are changing from some of the traditional lines to something that's a bit new. Muffins have been so well advertised by the likes of McDonald's, that it's a product that fits into the marketplace nicely."

End of a decade

That was the year that was. The deepest recession in history, unprecedented industry interference from the food regulator, a series of big name chains toppling like dominoes not to mention a glut of biscuit-related scandals (more of that later), and well, looking back, it could have been a lot worse. In fact, over the course of the year, the number of good news stories among bakery retailers and manufacturers far outweighed the bad, which goes to show it wasn't all doom and gloom.

The proof is in the pastry

When it comes to pastry, Pidy may not be the most recognised name in the UK, but this looks set to change as the Belgium-based firm embarks on expansion this side of the channel. Based in the once war-torn town of Ypres, the company already produces pastry products in as many sizes and shapes as you could imagine, so you might think NPD could pose a problem but you'd be wrong.
Pidy, an acronym for Patisserie Industrielle Dehaeck Ypres, is an independent family business, set up in 1967 by the late pastry baker Andre Dehaeck , the father of current chairman Thierry. While working at the family bakery and patisserie, he secured his first business customer when approached by a lady from Gant, who had a wine and cheese shop and was interested in selling his pastry products to complement her offering. He also discovered a market for gift-packs of unfilled pastry, which were purchased by tourists visiting the battlefields surrounding Ypres. Enquiries from wholesalers then started rolling in, and the business grew and grew, with the company's first production unit created in a bakery of only 520sq m.
A series of acquisitions and a number of years later, Pidy now produces over 300 million pieces per year, from its three production sites in Ypres, Halluin in France and Inwood, USA.
Foodservice has been its core business since it began in the 1960s, but Pidy also manufactures ready-to-fill pastry products for sectors including manufacturing and industrial; contract and event catering; cash-and-carry; and retail. It produces six different types of dough: puff pastry, shortcrust dough, choux buns, sponge dough, pâte à foncer (the French version of a basic pie dough, but with an extra-fine texture) and croustade.
For the production of its puff pastry Pidy uses both the French and Dutch method of production. With the French method, the fat is placed between the layers of dough, whereas with the Dutch method the fat is mixed with the dough and then layered. As an example of output, the Ypres factory produces approximately 29,500 pieces of its 4.5cm sized bouchées similar to a vol-au-vent an hour.
Pidy already has a presence in the UK, with ambient products in Brakes, its biggest foodservice customer. It also supplies Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Harrods, Waitrose, Délifrance and Spar. But the firm isn't as well represented on the high street and has put the wheels in motion to change this.
Recently appointed UK general manager Robert Whittle says the firm sees an opportunity to increase its presence in high street bakeries, patisseries and cafés. "We're also looking to talk to the likes of Pret A Manger and Starbucks in the UK and Europe," he adds. Whittle's aim is to double the firm's overall growth in the UK over a period of two years, which will involve expansion in the majority of the markets in which it operates, not just bakery retail.
The majority of the sales thrust in the UK bakery and café sector will be through targeted product launches. These have been designed to address problems such as lack of time, space and skilled staff, as well as the view that sales are often made based on the visual appeal of products. Pidy has already launched easy-to-use kits, such as Tarto Presto. This contains pastry tartelettes and crème patissière, which can be combined with fruits or chocolate, for example, to create eye-catching "window candy", says Whittle.
Pidy is hoping to introduce other kits as well and Whittle says plans are already afoot, although "still under wraps", to join forces with partners in the industry. "We see an opportunity to increase our presence in independent bakeries by working with partner companies, such as Unifine, to get our products to that market," he explains.
Chairman Thierry Dehaeck says that "finding skilled staff is getting to be a nightmare" and that products such as Pidy's pastry cases can be promoted as "a perfect substitute for a handmade product", leaving the baker time to concentrate on the filling and presentation.
"We can also offer frozen dough to the UK bakery sector, as we now have adequate storage facilities we haven't had the capability to do this before," says Whittle, adding that the firm is currently in talks with Brakes about distributing its frozen range.
Dehaeck says that although the company has competitors, when comparing individual types of pastry, there are no other companies that have the 'all-under-one-roof' claim. "Pidy is at an advantage as it manufactures such a variety of products," he adds.
Moreover, the company certainly hasn't been resting on its laurels when it comes to innovation. With around 30 new product launches in the last year, and plenty more to come, how does it come up with new ideas? "Question everything this is the most important thing," answers Dehaeck. To rethink and optimise the original idea, to reshape any shape and to apply trends proactively, are key parts of Pidy's new product development. But it's not enough just to sell the products, you need to sell the ideas to go with it, adds Dehaeck.
Pidy likes to be ahead of the game. "We are focused on quality and customer-driven thinking. We always try to be proactive," explains corporate sales director Robin Van Oudenhove. For example, the firm introduced products containing non-hydrogenated fat around two years ago, despite that fact it isn't a necessary requirement in Belgium, he explains. Areas the company is now looking at include low-fat and gluten-free options. "If we can have a production facility ahead of a competitor in terms of trends, then we're at an advantage," explains Dehaeck.
Recent innovation includes the creation of a vol-au-vent that keeps its crispiness without needing to be reheated; a tart with a vegetable coating that stops it going soggy and allows users to prepare finished products in advance; and canapé products such as mini-cones and 'spoonettes' an area Dehaeck says is seeing real growth in the UK. However, in one case, its recently launched edible coffee cups needed to come with a warning. Oudenhove explains that at a trade show in Dubai, a gentlemen decked out entirely in white took a bite out of the pastry cup before he had finished drinking the coffee and ended up wearing it instead.
The family aspect of the business is very important to Dehaeck, who says the secret to keeping your staff happy and retaining them is by listening to what they have to say. And as some of his employees have worked at the company for over 25 years, that philosophy appears to be working.

New Year's resolutions... or revolutions

By Max Jenvey of Oxxygen Marketing Partnership, a strategic management agency that focuses on business and brand development within the bakery, foodservice and convenience sectors.
Following the festive parties, drinking, late nights and early mornings at this time of year, there is one New Year's resolution that almost everyone wants to keep: losing those extra Christmas pounds. So how can you, as bakers, retailers and café owners support your customers with their diet resoltuions? Why not focus on a programme of support so consumers can avoid the 'guilt trip' around eating bakery goods and food-on-the-go.
Add healthy and balanced elements to your range, such as oatmeal cookies, yoghurt with cereals, dried fruit and nuts. Customers still want to eat breakfast, lunch and the usual snacks, but with losing weight in mind, they are looking for a more balanced alternative. Our colleagues from market researcher him! say 67% of health-conscious female customers "take away" their lunch or snack and, during their visit, 55% choose a sandwich. Try offering a wholemeal chicken pesto sandwich for instance, which has no fattening mayo.
New Year is also a time when everyone starts to think of ways of saving money. So combine your healthy choice offer in great-value meal deals and make your customers aware of them through effective communication, clearly visible from outside your store. Make sure your promotions stand out at key decision points within your store as almost 30% of our customers remember promotions and meal deals from the last time they visited (him! Food-to-go report, 2009).
Meal deals can include a wholegrain bar and for those who can bake on-site there's nothing easier than creating your own: choose nuts, seeds and berries, bound together with brown sugars or honey. To seal the deal, why not include a healthy fruit juice or smoothie, contributing to your customers' five-a-day!
Oxxygen would like to wish you a very happy and safe festive season.

Enzyme targets quality

Novozymes has launched a new fresh-keeping enzyme that aims to improve bread quality and extend shelf-life. Novamyl Pro, which follows on from Novozymes' existing product Novamyl, is a new maltogenic amylase preparation, which claims to offer improved crumb softness, elasticity and moistness.
"What is great about Novamyl Pro is that it works exceptionally well in lean recipes with a basic formulation," commented Thomas Erik Nilsson, global launch manager at Novozymes. "This fits perfectly with consumers' desire for clean-label bread."
In a consumer preference test, carried out by the firm, over 60% of the participants, who tested three different 'everyday' toast-breads for a week demonstrated a clear preference for the loaf made with a high dosage of Novamyl Pro, it claimed.

Cornish firm plays it cool

Independent English firm Daymer Bay has launched a new range of iced teas, available in peach, lemon and mango flavours.
The company, which takes its name from a stretch of sandy beach in North Cornwall, focuses solely on producing iced teas. The tea is sourced from Sri Lanka, where a penny for every bottle sold supports the local orphanage Singithi Sevana. The tea is then blended in the West Country and distributed in Cornwall by Chaffins Foodservice, and by JJ Foodservice to the rest of the UK. The teas are free from preservatives and artificial additives.
Additional flavours will also join the product line-up following the company's research into consumer preferences.

Boost your Omega 3

Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients has launched a new Omega 3-rich ingredient, LimaLin, made from wheat flour and linseed flour, which can be used in a range of bakery products.
Marketing manager for nutrition Walter Lopez said: "With just 5g of LimaLin, bread, cookies or cereals become a source of Omega 3. For pastry, using LimaLin increases softness in mini-cakes, while fat reduction becomes possible in cookies or biscuits."

Bakels drives multi-seed

Ingredients supplier Bakels is to launch a consumer campaign for multiseed bread in January. The theme is 'Multiseed bread tastes great and it's great for helping to control your weight', and the campaign will be supported by posters, shelf talkers and stickers.
Consumers will also be directed to a special website www.lowgibread.org.uk, which is sponsored by Bakels, and contains information about low-GI diets.
"Our annual consumer campaigns are very popular with bakers who see them as a great way of driving sales," commented general manager Ade Abass.
To take part in the campaign, bakers should either place an order for Bakels Multiseed through their representative or nominated wholesaler and then contact the company on 01869 356400 or email bakels@bakels.com for their kit.

Comment

Cocoa pricing hits 25-year high
The price of cocoa hit a 25-year high this month, with LIFFE March 2010 price, reaching £2,256/tonne. The International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO), said one of the main reasons for the price rise is three consecutive years of supply deficit. "For the current cocoa year (October-September) there has been uncertainty surrounding supply this is the main reason behind this price rise," said ICCO's senior statistician Laurent Pipitone. However, he noted that fears of another supply deficit are by no means substantiated.
"We've had a good start to the harvest," said Pipitone. But he added that the ICCO expects supply will tail off quite early in the period from January-March in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, which produce around 40% and 20% of the world's total cocoa, respectively. "Depending on the extent of the decline, the price could sustain this current high level or possibly even increase. We also expect demand to increase this year compared with last year."
According to the Financial Times, the price of cocoa is at its highest level since February 1985. It is feared the global market could face a supply deficit for the fourth year in a row, due to disease affecting yields in the world's largest cocoa producer, the Ivory Coast.
According to LIFFE, the price of cocoa has risen by more than £600 in the last 52 weeks up by around 37%.

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