Union officials are meeting representatives of Northern Foods this week, after the company announced plans to shut one of its biscuit factories.

Ian Wood, organising district secretary of the Bakers’ Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU) in Yorkshire, told British Baker that the existing Batley plant is set to close, under a plan to merge two of the company’s biscuit factories. The plant at Kirkham in Lancashire is unaffected.

The producer of Fox’s biscuits and Goodfella’s pizza is planning either to close the Batley plant and extend its existing factory at Uttoxeter in Staffordshire or shut both of them and create a new "world-class" high tech- nology facility on a different site in Batley.

Wood said the company’s plans had come as "a complete shock", but that the union would remain positive and would ask the company how many square feet it would need for the new plant. The Batley site, which employs 1,200 workers, is not big enough and the union will enlist the support of local MPs and councillors to find a suitable location.

He added that the company’s decision was not due until next March and could amount to "a beauty contest between Batley and Uttoxeter", which employs 950 workers. The company has confirmed that some jobs will be axed, but this will not happen until 2011.

Meanwhile, Northern Foods has announced a 7.6% jump in sales in the past three months, with income from the bakery division up 8%. Fox’s biscuits’ year-on-year brand share increased from 9.2% to 10%.

The company said profit expectations for the year remained unchanged despite a £20m rise in the cost of commodities and a £12m hike in energy costs. Chief executive Stefan Barden said: "The market environment remains challenging but we continue to invest in our brands and own-label business and, at the same time, drive greater efficiencies."


=== In Short ===

== Healthy doughnuts ==

Krispy Kreme UK reported strong sales growth for the year to 31 January 2008 - up 27% year-on-year, from £18.6 million to £23.6m. Total profit for the year stood at £118,000. Krispy Kreme now has 35 stand-alone units, as well as 93 in-store units in Tesco supermarkets. It plans to open stores in Leeds and Bristol in the coming year.

== Maple Leaf hit ==

High grain and fuel costs hit Canada’s Maple Leaf business, according to the company’s second-quarter results.

Within its bakery division, sales for the three months to 30 June were up to C$437m (£215m) from C$375m (£185m) the previous year, but earnings were down from C$33,391m (£16,460m) to C$8,671m (£4,274m). Results for the company’s UK division were not published.

== Golden State bans trans fats ==

California has introduced a trans fat ban that will apply to fats used in baked goods from 2010. Further laws for deep fried food will apply from the following year. South Australia is also backing a ban.

== US price rise ==

The average retail price of cereals and bakery products in the US rose by 10.4% in the year ending June 2008, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared with an average rise of 2.9% for meats, poultry, fish and eggs.

== Almond crop up ==

The Californian almond crop for 2008/9 should produce 1.5bn lbs of almond "meat" - the usable part of the nut, minus the shell - according to the US Department of Agriculture’s statistics service. The forecast

is up 3% from the 7 May, 2008 subjective forecast of 1.460bn lbs.