November

Brushing up on Brontë

The Café Brontë brand of luxury cookies, indulgent biscuits and traditional shortbread bars was launched at London's Caffè Culture show in late May and has already secured listings with two out of three of the country's leading wholesalers. And according to the Livingston firm's managing director Alan Hardie: "We expect all three to have the brand by the end of the year."

People power

Belfast-based Neill's Flour has become the first mill in Northern Ireland to receive the Investor in People Standard, joining over 38,000 organisations in the UK that have committed to setting a level of good practice for improving business performance through their people.

Price pressures

While the quality of the UK wheat harvest in 2006 has been generally good, events elsewhere in the world have led to a steep increase in wheat prices, especially during September and early October. The upshot is that UK bread wheat prices now stand some 40% higher than a year ago and this market strength seems likely to persist throughout this season.

insider

The cult of youth sometimes gets out of hand. Many people seem to think that, once you get up to or past 70, you are ready to be put down.

Post bag

From Stuart Matthews,

Bakers feel the retail pinch

In the last month the three biggest retail bakers in the UK - Three Cooks, Lyndale Foods and Greggs - have all hit the headlines. Most recently, Three Cooks has crashed into administration, but before that Greggs complained of disappointing trading. Lyndale has also admitted a major strategic review is under way.

Take off the blinkers

At last, there are signs on the horizon of a few brave bakers who have noticed things are hotting up on the high street! Apart from the giants, such as Greggs and Subway, making their presence felt, retail bakers face the added challenge of the in-store concessions, bake-off and any number of coffee-based offers. But many have their blinkers on, focusing just on their products while neglecting the bigger picture.

Commodities tracker

The 2006 International Conference of Dried Grape Producing Countries was held in Monterey, California last month. Representatives from countries, including the USA, Turkey, Greece, Chile, South Africa and Australia, swapped information on harvests, production and marketing at the event.

Europe's organic bread basket?

A forum to be held in Warsaw next week will highlight Poland's potential to be a manufacturing base for UK food firms.

Good year for Carr's

The successful integration of two mills and strong sales of speciality flours have helped Cumbria-based miller Carr's notch up healthy sales and profit increases.

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