CSM to acquire major US bakery manufacturer

Global bakery product supplier CSM has reached an agreement to acquire US bakery manufacturer Best Brands for a cash consideration of $510 million.

The takeover of Best Brands, one of the largest premium bakery manufacturers in the US, would make CSM the “undisputed market leader in the North American bakery supplies market”, according to the firm, with total sales in excess of $2.3 billion.

CSM said it will help strengthen its position in the segments and products that it had targeted for future growth, particularly in the in-store bakery market.

“The acquisition of Best Brands fits in our strategic journey which started in 2005,” commented CSM CEO Gerard Hoetmer. “This acquisition will strengthen our ability to deliver organic growth in the North American market in particular as we leverage opportunities to grow in the in-store and out-of-home markets.”

Best Brands achieved sales of $538 million in 2009, with around 75% of sales from the in-store arm of its business. Its product portfolio includes: laminated dough, cakes, muffins, fillings and mixes. In addition to in-store bakeries, it supplies to foodservice, retail and wholesale customers.

The transaction is expected to be completed in March 2010.

Barista competition experiences surge in entrants

The London regional heat for the World Barista Championship has had to be doubled in size due to a surge of interested competitors this year.

There are five regional heats where the baristas have 15 minutes to serve four espressos, which are then judged on flavour as well as the skills demonstrated in producing them. The competitors are then required to make four velvety textured cappuccinos, followed by four signature coffee drinks of their own creation.

The semi-finals will take place on 28 February at Hotelympia, and the final will be held at the same venue on 1 March 2010. It’s the first time the Championships will have taken place in London.

Last year’s UK Barista Champion, Gwilym Davies, went on to become World Champion in Atlanta.

Visit www.scaeuk.com for more information.

GreenPalm first for Burton’s Foods

Burton’s Foods has announced it is the first UK sweet biscuit manufacturer to acquire GreenPalm certificates for 100% of its palm oil usage.

From 1 January 2010, its usage of both palm- and palm kernel oil will be covered by the certificates, in the scheme which is internationally recognised by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

The firm has also announced that its long-term strategy is to be able to use segregated sustainable material throughout the entire product range by 2013.

British Baker has previously reported that fully traceable, segregated and sustainable refined palm oil is available from suppliers such as New Britain and can be used in biscuits, however most bakery manufacturers use palm derivatives such as olein, stearin and fractions, which are not currently available in sustainable, certified forms. This leaves manufacturers with the option of buying GreenPalm certificates.

The scheme is run by fats supplier AAK, and certificates can be purchased for every tonne of palm oil used by a company. This premium is then paid to farmers producing an equivalent amount of sustainable palm oil. Certificates cost around $8, while a tonne of palm oil is around $650.

“We are delighted to be able to kick-start 2010 with such a major step forward for our CSR programme
– baking a difference,” commented head of CSR at Burton’s Foods, Jo Shears. “Moving forward, consumers will be reassured that when purchasing some of the UK’s favourite brands such as Jammie Dodgers and Maryland they are making environmentally responsible purchasing decisions.”

Jamie Oliver’s head baker teams up with Real Bread Campaign

To mark National Apprenticeship Week (1-5 February), the head baker at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant in London has teamed up with the Real Bread Campaign to highlight the importance of bakery apprenticeships.

Fifteen offers young people, who are in need of a helping hand, a chance to transform their lives and realise their own potential through the experience of learning to work in the restaurant business.

As part of a 12-month chef apprenticeship scheme run by Fifteen, each apprentice learns basic breadmaking with the NVQ 2 qualifications they take at Lewisham College. The apprentices also have the chance to spend three weeks with Rankin to build on their experience and knowledge, with the next group of apprentices due to start on 8 February.

Fifteen’s Kenny Rankin said: “There’s so much you can do with the apprentices. You can teach them the basics but there’s also the Swiss and French style bakery that’s invaluable learning. Baking is such a dying art and is one of the oldest and most important skills we can teach the apprentices.”

The bakery produces traditional Italian-style breads, such as ciabatta and focaccia as well as more unusual breads such as Zopf - a Swiss-style knotted bread. It also hopes to diversify the varieties in the future, as well as broadening its training.

Rankin will share his knowledge of artisan bakery with Real Bread Campaign’s project officer, Chris Young. He will learn about the art of baking bread using the same techniques and developing the same skills as Fifteen’s trainees.

To find out more about Fifteen, visit www.fifteen.net

Raven Patisserie plans for growth

Essex-based cake and dessert manufacturer Raven Patisserie has moved to a new purpose-built production site in Witham.

The new premises have been designed to accommodate its “ambitious sales targets for its patisserie and bakery products”, according to the firm.

Operations director Daren McGrath said the business plans to achieve the growth through “new markets from within the group, and new business from a widening geographical area”.

A subsidiary brand of Wilkin & Sons Limited, Raven Patisserie, previously located in Braintree, has grown steadily over the last couple of years. Wilkin & Sons, known for manufacturing Tiptree fruit conserves, acquired cakes tray-bake and bar manufacturer Passionately Cakes in 2003. Passionately then joined forces with Raven Catering, to form Raven Patisserie in 2005.

“Raven has grown from strength to strength. We out-grew our premises in Braintree within two and a half years,” said McGrath. “This site in Witham is over 17,000 square feet and is large enough to handle the next phase of our growth.”

The company, which currently employs 23 staff, supplies individually wrapped cakes, ambient bars and slices, luxury round cakes, and tray bakes to a number of tea rooms and restaurants across the UK. Passionately Cakes is now the brand name for the company’s counterline ‘grab and go’ bars.

Threats to jobs as Warburtons announces £25 million investment

Warburtons has announced a £25 million investment programme at its Bolton bakery. However the move threatens the jobs of around a quarter of its workforce at the site.

The planned investment involves the redevelopment of the bakery, which will result in the closure of two of its existing bread plants. The firm has revealed that 121 jobs, out of the 234 employed on the two bread lines, are at risk. Around 480 staff are employed at the bakery.

“As the two existing bread plants require upgrading, we will be creating a new single facility that will ensure we have a sustainable and efficient manufacturing facility to meet future customer requirements,” announced Warburtons.

The firm will now enter into a 90-day consultation period, followed by a 30-day consultation period, said
Ian Hodson, organising regional secretary, Bakers, Food & Allied Workers Union (BFAWU).

He told British Baker that an initial meeting took place at Warburtons on Wednesday 27 January, and staff at the bakery were subsequently informed about the possible job losses following the meeting.

He said the initial reaction to the announcement from shop stewards was that they were “pretty devastated by the news”. “It came as a shock. It was totally out of the blue, and had a real sting in the tail,” said Hodson.

The new facility will be commissioned from September 2011, enabling Warburtons to “continue to grow and develop”.

The firm has said it will be “working closely with its impacted employees and their representatives to explore all possible alternatives, during the consultation period”.

The BFAWU will hold a meeting with members on 6 February, followed by a meeting with the company to go through the consultation process on 9 February, said Hodson.

Barista competition experiences surge in entrants

The London regional heat for the World Barista Championship has had to be doubled in size due to a surge of interested competitors this year.

Raven Patisserie plans for growth

Essex-based cake and dessert manufacturer Raven Patisserie has moved to a new purpose-built production site in Witham.

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