Over 500 craft bakers across the UK took part in the 15th National Doughnut Week, which is expected raise more than £35,000 for The Children’s Trust, a charity which provides special care, therapy and education for severely disabled children.

This year the week ran in May and its sponsor, BakeMark UK, provided individual craft bakers with enough free doughnut concentrate to make more than 900 doughnuts. "National Doughnut Week is first and foremost a means to raise valuable funds for the children," says David Astles, trade marketing manager for BakeMark UK.

"It’s great for bakers to be able to help local children throughout the UK and really make a difference to their lives. Since the first National Doughnut Week took place in 1992, we’ve raised more than £550,000 for charity," he adds.

BakeMark UK has five core product areas, including bread ingredients, cookies, cake mixes, value-added doughnuts and soft icings. It supplies craft, industrial, in-store and foodservice bakery sectors. The Bromborough site covers a total of 18 acres, only 50% of which contains buildings.

As part of CSM, a global bakery ingredients business worth more than €3bn (£2.2bn) with companies across Europe and North America, BakeMark UK has benefited from significant investment since 2001 through acquisitions and manufacturing equipment. In 2004 BakeMark UK became the new name for Arkady Craigmillar, Caravan Brill and cookie manufacturer Readi-Bake. The acquisitions and mergers took place alongside a strategic review of company operations.

A shake-up at the start of last year saw the creation of a bread focus division, directed by Derek Kemp. He says: "It’s the aim of the company to re-establish its position as number one in this market; our heritage is in bread, so this is where we shall focus our attention."

Since the bread focus division was formed, BakeMark has developed a range of four new products under the Arkady brand, launched this month, including White Plus - a high-fibre concentrate for white bread. "This product makes a soft white bread with the goodness of brown. It offers craft bakers a strong competitive edge in today’s health-conscious market," says Kemp.

"It is essential for bakers to have the opportunity to respond to their customers’ needs, which is why we have also developed a low-GI bread base mix."

The new Seeds ’n’ Grains Concentrate has a low GI rating of 50, compared to a standard white loaf, which has a high GI rating of 70. It includes sunflower seeds, linseeds, pumpkin seeds, malt, oats and fibre-rich maize and wheat bran.

"A low GI diet has been linked to reducing heart disease, preventing the onset of Type 2 diabetes and helping weight management," adds Kemp.

The new bread focus division has also created two new improvers since it was set up last year. The Pear Health Choice contains 30% less salt, 38% less fat and 26% less sugar than the standard improver. The RKD Clean, also launched this month, is a dough conditioner that has less of the additives associated with traditional improvers and is free from preservatives and emulsifiers.

"Consumers are really wanting healthier, clean label products. In a sense, the baking industry has allowed supermarkets to dictate the price of bread and that’s devalued it. That’s why I applaud bakers who demand higher prices for quality products."

As well as creating the bread focus division, BakeMark also invested £2m in a glazed doughnut plant. "As part of its commitment to research and development, the company has invested in new doughnut production technology," says Vera Malhotra, head of marketing, BakeMark UK.

Following the success of its Smarties donuts, BakeMark is now also making Nestlé-branded ring doughnuts, including Rolo and Toffee Crisp.

In terms of future developments, says Peter Brun­ton, manufacturing integration manager, Bake­Mark UK is investigating the technology involved in tempering butter and fats. "New tech­nology may help speed up this process, allowing greater flexibility in production, reducing manufacturing times and improving end product quality by ensuring the fat or butter is at the optimum consis­tency before being incorporated into recipes."n


=== Timeline ===

1996 Arkady Craigmillar is formed when British Arkady and Craigmillar merge

1990-96 Changing customer demands sees £15m investment at the Wirral site, turning from fats to bakery ingredients and frozen products

2000 CSM, a global supplier of bakery ingredients, acquires Arkady Craigmillar

2003 Arkady Craigmillar acquires Readi-Bake, maker of American-style cookies (based in Milton Keynes)

2004 Arkady Craigmillar and Readi-Bake are renamed BakeMark UK but the names Arkady, Craigmillar and Readi-Bake remain alongside Bon Vivant and Caravan Brill as its five key brands.

BakeMark UK operates from three sites: Manchester, Wirral and Milton Keynes

2004-05 The Wirral site removes hydrogenated fats from its internally made products

2005 BakeMark acquires licences for Toffee Crisp, Rolo, Milky Bar and Yorkie bakery products

2006 £2m investment in glazed doughnut plant