Review of the Year 2017: October to December

We look back at some of the major stories that affected the baking industry in the last quarter of 2017.

The final months of the year brought our Christmas Stars competition and Harrods unveiling a from-scratch bakery and coffee roastery, as well as many more developments in the industry.

For our previous round-ups of what happened earlier in the year see:

Bachmanns' Prune & Cognac Tart, which won the Christmas Cakes, Pastries & Tarts category

October

  • Real Good Food reported that it expected to make a loss before tax for the year to 31 March 2018. The company said margins had been badly hit by commodity cost hikes and disruption to production during site redevelopment. The announcement followed a string of profit warnings from the business.
  • The winning products in the 2017 Christmas Stars competition were revealed. The winners and runners-up can use Christmas Stars logos on marketing material and on packs.
  • Allied Bakeries faced strike action at its depot in West Bromwich in a pay row with drivers and engineers. Industrial action was called off in December after 130 drivers, maintenance staff and security personnel at the Kingsmill plant accepted a revised pay offer from Allied.
  • NHS bosses clamped down on unhealthy sandwiches in a bid to combat obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. Hospital chiefs were told that three-quarters of pre-packed sandwiches and other savoury pre-packed meals sold in hospital canteens, stores and vending machines must contain 400 calories or less per serving and must not have more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g.
  • New York Bakery Co was forced to temporarily halt production of some its bagels at its site in Rotherham as a result of technical issues following work to increase production and improve efficiency. The issue has since been resolved.

November

  • Yorkshire tea owner Bettys and Taylors Group urged a tiny café in Whitby to rename one of its cakes. Sandgate Coffee & Delights, a three-table café in the seaside town, stopped using the name Fat Rascals after receiving a visit and two letters from the company, which holds a trade mark for the name and design of the Fat Rascal – a scone with a ‘face’ made from cherries and almonds.
  • Warburtons announced it was rebranding its Newburn Bakehouse free-from range as Warburtons Gluten Free. Rolling out from January, the new-look range will feature black and orange packaging clearly displaying the Warburtons name.
  • Harrods opened the first phase of its new-look Food Halls, unveiling a from-scratch bakery and coffee roastery. The  bakery is led by master baker Lance Gardner and offers 15 varieties of bread, as well as pastries, cake and biscuits, which are freshly baked throughout the day. The Roastery and Bake Hall is the first step in a two-year restoration project to transform the Food Halls.
  • Rising wheat prices heaped further pressure on UK bread margins. Allied Bakeries said it had been discussing higher prices with retailers, with parent company Associated British Foods (ABF) reporting Allied sustained a loss in the year ending 16 September. Other manufacturers will also be hoping to raise prices, according to industry insiders.
  • Warburtons and the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) agreed a “landmark” deal to improve employee terms and make the business more agile. Warburtons said the move would enable it to meet changing consumer demand through innovation while improving the long-term security of staff.

December

  • Yorkshire-based bakery Jacksons announced a £40m investment in a second factory to supply bread for sandwich manufacturers. Jackons has planning permission for the facility, which will be built on a 10-acre site on the Willowbrook East Industrial Estate in Corby.
  • Coopland & Son revealed it is set to open 30 new shops in three years across the north of England following a £8.5m investment from investors Business Growth Fund. As well as the expansion, the funds will be used to improve and develop its production facilities.
  • Puratos acquired Lancashire-based fruit filling and sauces supplier Fruitapeel. Puratos said the acquisition would strengthen its position in the UK bakery industry and enhance its offering to existing customers.
  • Warburtons changed the hashtag used on competition after realising it is linked with a subculture known as ‘furries’, made up of people who dress up in elaborate costumes as animal characters. The baker had used the #crumpetcreations hashtag as part of a competition in which customers upload photos of Christmassy crumpets for the chance to win VIP tickets to a show. However, Crumpet Creations is also the name of a company in Phoenix, Arizona, that makes ‘furries’ costumes.

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