December

Love Joes targets children

Love Joes has developed a new hot snack for schoolchildren a mini version of its pre-made wraps. The new Mini Wrappes are a hand-held snacking concept, marketed as an alternative to traditional breakfast, break-time or lunch snack options.
They can be served hot from frozen in 18-20 minutes and are available in three varieties: All Day Breakfast bacon, egg, beans and potatoes in a sweet tomato sauce; Chicken Tikka Masala chicken pieces, potatoes and mixed vegetables in a spicy masala sauce; and Mexican Bean mixed beans, potatoes and cheese in a hot smokey barbecue sauce.
Mini Wrappes are available in boxes of 40.

Pieminister's 'charade'

Pieminister has launched two winter pies for the festive season. The Bristol-based pie-maker's new Charade pie is filled with slow-cooked venison, partridge and pheasant with parsnip, puy lentils and a hint of chocolate and chilli. The firm is also bringing back its vegetarian Christingle pie, due to popular demand. The pie contains honey roast parsnips, Cheddar cheese and chestnuts with white port.
"We have tried this in the Pieminister kitchens with creamed brussels sprouts, small rosemary roasted potatoes and red wine gravy with a hint of orange delicious!" said Pieminister co-founder and chef Tristan Hogg.
Each pie weighs 275g.

Frozen puds debut

Lancashire-based Farmhouse Fare has made its debut in the frozen pudding market with the launch of two new products. The 450g frozen varieties will be available in Luxury Sticky Toffee (all butter date sponge with sticky toffee sauce) and Luxury Sticky Chocolate (chocolate sponge with Belgian dark chocolate sauce).
The puddings can be cooked from frozen on a microwaveable tray, or can be placed in the oven.
Parent company Daniels Group's marketing director Nigel Parrott commented: "We have identified an opportunity for a brand with a reputation for quality to drive growth in the premium frozen desserts category which is under-performing in both volume and value, particularly compared to chilled puddings."

Report

Consumers want all genetically modified (GM) food products to be labelled, including those where GM is used as a processing aid or in animal feed, according to new qualitative research commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
The report, Exploring Attitudes to GM Food, found that consumers were confused by GM and wanted clear and accessible information from a variety of sources, including supermarkets. In particular, people wanted to know about the potential long-term societal and personal impacts of GM and the potential consequences for animal welfare. Negative attitudes about GM foods focused on perceived health and environmental risks and scepticism about the motivations of producers and regulators.
As part of the research, participants in the survey took part in workshops where they were given a presentation by an FSA representative, who provided an overview of issues relating to GM food, including the role of the FSA. Attitudes following the presentation tended to be either more positive towards GM foods or there was no change in overall attitudes. The FSA has set up a steering group to canvass public opinion on GM foods.
A Soil Association spokesperson said: "One clear result of the study is that there should be compulsory labelling on meat and dairy products from animals fed on GM feed."

Edible nut pricing

Almonds: Despite the September shipment figures from California being 2% lower than September 2008, pricing throughout October and certainly into November 2009 looks set to remain very firm.
Hazels: Unfortunately the new crop in Turkey appears to be approximately 50% of the size of the 2008/09 crop, and nothing will improve the situation other than a release of the large quantity of old crop stocks held by the Turkish government.
Walnuts: While China continues to buy strongly and with European industry starting to focus on its own additional 2010 requirements, we can only expect prices to remain firm and with the only respite short-term coming from the sometime weaker dollar.
Pecans: This side of January, we can only see prices creeping ever northwards as stocks in origin and at destination deplete and buying for the Christmas period continues unabated.
Pistachios: Previous reports now confirm that the US crop is down year-on-year, and the Iranian crop has reportedly been adversely affected during the harvest by rain. The impact of this into the UK, however, will be muted by virtue of the fact that Iranian exports to the UK have seen so much decline over the past two to three seasons.

Reporting in

Matthew Goodman
Policy representative, Forum of Private Business (FPB)
Here in the waning months of 2009, many business owners are ramping up for the holidays, stocking their shelves, preparing for the change in the rate of VAT and trying to find the right turkey for Christmas dinner! So, I hate to dump some snow on the holiday fire, but I have to ask, have you thought about your business rates?
The Valuation Office Agency has just finished its revaluation for 2010-2015, which will set each business premises' rateable value for the next five years. You should have received your new valuation by post in October.
For most businesses, the fall in property prices over the last year will mean a fall in their rateable value and a lower rates bill, but for some, there will be an increase in their valuation. For those businesses that will see a rise or substantial decrease in rates, the government has announced the transitional arrangements and the provisional multipliers to help you calculate your rate bill for 2010/2011.
With the holiday season on the way, you might be tempted to leave your rates bill until after the New Year, but I think it is important you make sure that your rateable value is correct as soon as possible. Log on to www.voa.gov.uk/2010 and make sure that the value of your property is generally correct with regard to the others in your neighbourhood or on your street. After all, that valuation will determine your rates bill for the first half of the next decade.
If you're having problems understanding your bill or you think there's a problem with your valuation, give us a call at the FPB, or talk to a surveyor or advisor you can trust and find out your options.
When that's done, you can get back to the really important things mince pies, mulled wine and, of course, friends and family.

Peggy Porschen plans sales drive

London-based Peggy Porschen Cakes has announced it has plans to grow the business by ramping up online sales and "possibly opening a shop".
Currently working from Madison Studios in The Village, the firm supplies Fortnum & Mason with its seasonal ranges of hand-decorated cakes and cookies, and has created celebration cakes for the likes of Stella McCartney, Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna.
As part of its ambition to expand, Peggy Porschen is working with accountancy firm Harris Lipman in order to "take us to the next level and give us advice on how we can grow our business," said managing director Bryn Morrow.
Harris Lipman partner Michael Bernstein said: "While it is well-known for producing cakes, there are perhaps other areas that are under-sold, such as the cookery masterclasses they run, which can perhaps be promoted more."

McCambridge boosted by Barclays funding

Bakery group McCambridge has secured £6m funding from Barclays Bank to invest in its Soreen and own-label brands.
The firm, which recently filed its accounts, has made an operating profit of £2.7m to 30 June 2009, compared to a £5.4m loss in its previous financial year.
Group commercial director Neil Fraser told British Baker that McCambridge had gained support from its main investor, Barclays, to turn the business around. Part of the capital is being spent on new machinery in order to improve production efficiencies. "With the Soreen business we will also be investing in marketing to try and drive brand awareness," explained Fraser. "It's really a two-pronged plan commercial and operational." Barclays has provided "the bulk" of funding for the project, with additional cash investment coming from McCambridge.
Fraser explained that the Soreen business is slightly ahead in terms of the installation of new equipment, due to the seaso-nality of its own-label business, which manufactures products such as mince pies. For own-label, "the physical work will commence very early January, with expected completion in June", he said.
The sale earlier this year of six of its smaller bakeries, acquired when the firm bought cake firm Inter Link out of administration in 2007, has made "a big difference in terms of efficiency", according to Fraser. He added that one of the future aims of the business was to have more "centres of excellence rather than trying to be all things to all men".
Fraser said that the firm's entire business, plus its Irish and Polish operations which comprise its Creative Cake, own-label and Soreen divisions "are all on track". And as the bulk of McCambridge's business will be finished by Christmas, he added: "We're quietly confident we'll hit the numbers we've told investors we would this year."

Pie sales soar after website redesign

The Nottinghamshire-based pie maker Lime Tree Pantry has increased its online sales by 600%, in one week, after it received a grant from the Food and Drink iNet to redevelop its website.
Sales rocketed from an average of £333 per week to more than £2,331 in the first seven days following the launch of the site, designed by Voice Brand Design.
Lime Tree Pantry, which produces more than 10,000 fruit and savoury pies a week, received a £5,967 Innovation Support Grant, which the firm match-funded. The website was then given a major facelift with the aim of encouraging more traffic to the site and, in turn, more orders.
MD Damien Toms said the firm is "absolutely delighted" with the new website. "Voice Brand Design has opened our eyes to what using a professional marke-ting agency can do for sales. I am confident the site will continue to help us reach new customers."
Funded by East Midlands Development Agency (emda), the Food and Drink iNet is managed by a consortium, led by the Food & Drink Forum and including Food Processing Faraday, Nottingham Trent University, the University of Lincoln and the University of Nottingham.

Starbucks strikes deal with Subway

Starbucks has announced plans to put its Seattle's Best Coffee brand into more than 9,000 Subway stores in the US by the end of 2009. A deal has also been signed which will see the Seattle's Best brand in 800 Canadian Subway outlets by the end of the year.
A spokesperson for Starbucks UK said there are currently no plans to sells Starbucks branded coffee in Subway stores in the UK.
Established in 1970, Seattle's Best Coffee has more than 550 speciality coffee cafés, kiosks and other concepts in the US. It is also available nationwide in supermarkets and at more than 6,000 foodservice locations.

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