Small bakery manufacturers at the show were upbeat amid a backdrop of increasing consumer awareness of food origins and a retailing drive to ’think local’.
However, The Heatherslaw Bakery doesn’t talk about ’food miles’; ’food metres’ is closer to the truth. This top-end cake and biscuit bakery stands on the same site as a water-powered mill among the fields where the wheat is grown in Northumberland. MD Colin Smurthwaite claimed this was proving a great selling point. "The story we try to convey is the location, and that everything is handmade to traditional recipes," he said of the 120 products, which range from four to six months’ shelf life, including a Christmas range with national distribution.
The one-year-old Heavenly Cakes was hoping to expose its new branding to distributors. Having formerly helmed a catering firm, the owners switched to baking cakes when they became frustrated at the quality of products they were buying in. The firm now makes 20 lines of traybakes, supplying the likes of London Zoo. "We avoid artificial flavourings, bindings and colours as much as possible and stick to real ingredients, such as real egg and Belgian chocolate," said co-owner Nigel Green.
Ian Craig, MD of Beckleberry’s, which supplies ice cream and speciality patisserie to the hotel and restaurant market, said he was promoting its use of real ingredients: "We work from first principles; we make our own pastry, frangipane, mousses and purées - we use real strawberries rather than what some ingredients suppliers think is the taste of a strawberry!" The seven-day life baked products are deli-vered chilled, while the bulk of the 1,000-strong range are frozen; 40% of products are bespoke. It deli-vers direct to the north of England, while the firm is still joining the dots on its UK-wide distribution.
Farmer/miller Gilchesters Orga-nics started working with a wholesaler last month and was drumming up interest in the south for its spelt and rye speciality flours. "Getting bakers to change their habits is a very difficult process," said owner Andrew Wilkinson. "They have established grists of grain and set modes of production. So for us to introduce speciality stoneground grains, with different baking characteristics, has been hard work. But once bakers try the flours and realise there’s something special in the flavours of these old varieties, it helps us to help them develop new ranges of speciality breads."
Pullins Bakers was launching branded mini bar flapjacks, shortbreads and tiffins, with contemporary-looking cardboard sleeves for coffee shops, travel, retail and foodservice. "We’re also introdu-cing a Family Breads range of five Great Taste Award-winning breads, which have been developed from recipes dating from 1925," said marketing executive Tristan Hunt.
Meanwhile, bake-off specialist Mantinga was showcasing the only product to win a Great Taste Award in the new bake-off category this year - a seeded wholemeal loaf. "To us, that has been a great achievement - we’re the only people, ever, to win a gold in bake-off!" said delighted MD Steven Mackintosh. Mantinga also launched a sun-dried tomato loaf, Mediterranean green olive bread, peperonici and fougasse, with ham and walnuts.