Since setting out as an apprentice patissier 18 years ago in northern France, I have gained experience of both the French and British baking industries.Several years ago, I began climbing the UK career ladder at Le Pain Croustillant, followed by jobs at Allied Bakeries and Roberts Bakery (Northwich, Cheshire). I worked mainly in new product development and in export.Then in 2002, I returned to France to join a project setting up a sandwich factory called Provence Azur Restauration near Marseilles in the south of France, with Jacques Gallichet, the former MD of Delifrance UK.Slice of the marketThe site is now doing well and employs 25 staff. Each day we produce and deliver 8,000 to 10,000 freshly made sandwiches across the south-east of France, under our Mister Joe brand. And soon, we’ll be delivering to Lyons, boosting volumes by some 20%.We use a variety of breads for our sandwiches, sourced in the UK, France and Italy. We buy our sliced bread and submarine rolls from Roberts Bakery and our baguettes from Delifrance. Meanwhile, speciality products such as ciabatta and focaccia, are sourced from Italy.The UK bakery market is dominated by longer-life/convenience products, with a large majority of manufacturers concentrating on volume. But the speciality market in the UK is growing with British consumers looking for more innovative products and always keen to try something new. The baguette still represents a way of life in France, with French customers visiting the local boulangerie up to three times a day to ensure really fresh bread for each meal. A French baker will (or should) bake his baguettes three times a day. The French flour mills have recognised this loyalty towards the small independent bakery and have worked with the artisan bakers to develop a range of breads and brands. Craft brandsFrance has 34,000 artisan bakeries, with 1,200 selling just bread. The main flour brands are:- Baguepi: created in 1994 by Les Moulins Soufflet, this brand is used by 2,500 bakers.- Campaillette: created in 1989 by Grands Moulins de Paris and used by 4,000 bakers.- Banette: created in 1982 by Unimie, a group of 38 millers, and used by 3,000 bakers.- Festival des Pains: created in 1989 by Meuniers de France and used by 3,500 bakers.There are 4,000 bakers who have partnerships with other brands, which are more recent, or regional products, and there are over 17,000 bakers who work independently to these brands.The sales of bread in France can be divided into three sectors: artisan bakers; bake-off industrial bakers; and in-store supermarket bakeries. There are about 15 industrial sites in France making French bread and sliced bread, which is a small number compared to the UK. But the market is moving towards foodservice and the typical French lunch break has diminished from the former hour and a half. Consumers are moving towards eating a sandwich at lunchtime rather than visiting the local brasserie for the ‘plat du jour’.The sandwich market has great potential; ultra-fresh products will be the way forward. And I plan to pursue this from the UK, where I will return in the near future to work once again in the food industry.
Forcing consumers to eat more healthily could result in a backlash, with consu-mers rejecting foods where substantial cuts in salt and fat content have been made or where recipe formulation is perceived to have had an unacceptable impact on flavour.That is the conclusion drawn by The British Sandwich Association in a report released in time for British Sandwich Week, running from May 14 to 20. Attempts to force consumers towards a healthier lifestyle too quickly are likely to fail, it says, as consumers reject foods with lower flavour in favour of less healthy alternatives. In the broad scheme of the convenience market, sandwiches are one of the healthiest choices, it adds and says: “There is growing evidence that, by trying to force people to change their diets too quickly and without taking the full picture into account, government agencies are simply chasing them towards less healthy choices. The benefits of the nutritional value of a sandwich generally outweigh the negative effects of salt and fat intake, especially when you look at the kind of food consumers choose as an alternative.”Bland flavoursTo illustrate the problem, the association claims that complaints have increased about the blandness of some sandwiches and ready meals where salt has been reduced substantially. Data collected at point of sale also shows that there has been an 11.7% reduction in the value of the low-fat/low-calorie/low-salt segment of the market, against a 15.1% increase in the premium sector, where reductions have not been made, according to the association. “The fact is that it takes time for consumer palates to adapt to changes,” says Jim Winship, director of the British Sandwich Association. “There is no point in setting unrealistic targets for the food industry to achieve if consumers simply transfer their loyalty to less healthy alternatives.”The British Sandwich Association also declares itself particularly concerned that government bodies, such as The Food Standards Agency, sometimes appear to pay too much heed to small and unrepresentative consumer lobby groups at the expense of solid evidence from consumers. “Unfortunately the food industry is always painted as being the ogre of the piece, particularly by some consumer groups,” adds Mr Winship. “But the fact is that the industry depends wholly on the support of its consumers to survive and spends millions every year on research to monitor the habits and trends of those buying products so that it can get this right. Every year some 20 million people walk into retailer outlets and buy two billion sandwiches; what they buy is probably a better barometer than anything of current consumer attitudes.”Sandwich makers have no issue with encouraging consumers to eat more healthily by reducing the fat and salt levels in sandwiches. “But this should be achieved at a pace that is realistic,” says Mr Winship. “There is no quick fix.”Change will come about, he says, through a process of educating consumers as well as reducing salt and fat levels at a pace that people’s palates can cope with and by working with groups such as doctors to get the message over to those most at risk from being overweight.While sandwiches are now one of the main meal occasions in the day for most people, and the industry is committed to achieving an average salt level of below 2g per serving by a steady process of reduction, some sandwiches will never achieve this goal as their ingredients are naturally high in salt and fat. “The traditional bacon butty, for example, is always likely to be higher in salt content than the average sandwich,” points out Mr Winship.The British Sandwich Association employs market researchers to gather data from some 5,000 consumers every week about their sandwich purchases. “We are very happy to share some of this information with the Food Standards Agency and work with them to achieve long-term solutions,” says Mr Winship.Sensible approach“We need to work together to achieve change,” he adds. “While everyone’s views should be heard, sense should dictate the pace of change and we should all pay heed to what the consumer is actually saying. “Failure to do this not only means that consumers will reject all our efforts, but everyone will lose. Not only will the government agencies lose face if their goals are not achieved, but food suppliers will find themselves in the awkward situation of being sandwiched between complying with the goals and the commercial realities of consumers voting with their feet. This is not what any of us wants.”
Bakeries and sandwich shops are enticing fast food fans away from Burger King in the UK.The Miami-based company’s recent financial results statement highlighted poor performance in the UK. It blamed this on “perceptions about obesity and food-borne illness; and increased competition from sandwich shops, bakeries and other new restaurants”.Burger King’s chief executive John Chidsey said the company had to make a £1.6m cash injection to fortify its British operation.He said: “McDonald’s has done a better job in the UK than we have,” he said. “I just think McDonald’s is six or seven months ahead of us.” McDonald’s is reporting strong sales in the UK due to a new marketing strategy and options such as carrot sticks and walnut salads.Chidsey said the company had sent an executive to Britain and is “assessing where we’ve gone wrong and where we need to go”.Meanwhile, Burger King’s US sales are soaring.
How did you get involved in this year’s National Doughnut Week? Bakers with a story to tell should get in touch with BakeMark UK via [email protected] or tel 0161 925 4700.Send in news and photos of your fundraising activity for possible use in the 2008 publicity campaign.BakeMark UK will donate £5 to The Children’s Trust for every story received, so get in touch to make even more of a difference to the lives of children who really need your help. A bottle of Champagne will also be donated to the senders of the three best entries received by 3 September, 2007.
August is traditionally a quiet month – not so in the baking industry! Instead we see the price of wheat hit an all-time world high and another possible big closure at Premier Foods-owned British Bakeries.The news about the highest-ever world wheat prices made all the business pages of the daily press. It is a grim reality, as industry leaders tell us (pg 4), but it is not the only one.We are investigating price rises in other vital commodities and will report back in the next issue. But virtually every single price rise affects the baking industry more than any other because there simply are no other goods that use flour, butter, dried milk, yeast and gluten so much. You cannot bake a loaf, cake or pudding without them.Last week we reported on bakery suppliers’ dealings with the supermarkets (BB, Aug 24, pg 15) and the difficulties they encountered with price pressures. This week I asked Kevin Hawkins, director general of the British Retail Consortium, which mainly represents supermarkets, to respond (pg 15). He does so forcefully but makes the point; “Supermarkets know that if they put their suppliers under pressure, it restricts investment and stifles innovation.”It is therefore a very unfortunate time to be having a price war because these price rises cannot be absorbed by suppliers; ’absorption’ is truly impossible!Innovation, as Kevin Hawkins says, is extremely important and a good news story to emerge is that of Battle Bake House in East Sussex which has won a contract to supply 60 Sainsbury’s stores in the south east (pg 8). Sainsbury’s Debra Wharton, whom I know has a canny eye for successful products, has welcomed Battle under the company’s Supply Something New scheme. In turn, Battle says: “Sainsbury’s has given us a lot of support.”But it is still very tough out there, particularly for large-scale operators. The bad news at British Bakeries Bradford is the potential loss of 370 jobs. Telford too is holding discussions so employees will be feeling shocked and vulnerable.Meanwhile, it’s your last chance to book for the Baking Industry Awards, 17 September, hosted by Joanna Lumley. At least 900 will be there so do join them! Tel 01293 846593 or email: [email protected] today!
The Scottish Association of Master Bakers (SAMB) conference, from 24-27 May, saw George Stevenson, MD of of Mathiesons of Falkirk, with 32 shops and mall cafés, and a growing wholesale business, take over as new president.Highlighting the main issues of concern to bakers, he echoed those of Arthur Rayer, head of skills training. Stevenson told British Baker: “I am really concerned about the drastic underfunding of bakery training by government in Scotland. It leaves the industry facing a real skills issue in recruiting and training bakers.”Asked about lobbying government, he said: “We are working with skills sector council Improve, and have met the Scottish government minister for lifelong learning, but it is also essential that we enlighten careers officers and students about what satisfaction and rewards bakery can offer as a career.”At the moment, it is left to local companies to try to almost force their way into schools. We need to create demand earlier by working with careers officers.”Stevenson said fuel and commodity prices were also big issues. “But the media is full of information on rising prices,” he added, “so bakers must be prepared to pass them on.”Past president Bill MacLaren told British Baker that “the huge tide of never-ending government legislation by individuals who had never run a business in their life and wouldn’t know how to” was one of the biggest concerns of all.Changes to the boardAs incoming president, Steven-son also saw the voting-in of a new resolution to change the make-up of the main board. This will allow all members to stand for the board as opposed to it being principally made up by those who head up various committees. It also means that, as president, he has been invited to become board chairman.The new board make-up coincides with the departure of Ian Hay, past chief executive, former president, former treasurer of SAMB, who has also been awarded an OBE for services to the baking industry.Stevenson paid him special trubute telling delegates: “This is Ian Hay’s 20th conference. His tremendous period of service is coming to an end. He has been so supportive of training, among other things and his attention to detail ensured we set up one of the best training organisations in the UK. Apart from helping to put the SAMB on a very sound financial footing he has sat on the Low Pay commission, representing smaller firms and, as president, visited over 200 bakeries. If he has set his mind to something, he has given it 110%. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude.”Ian Hay thanked the conference for their kind words and praised outgoing president Joe Macdonald, whom he said been “immensely helpful friendly and sociable during his year of office”. It was later mentioned that Joe Macdonald has also made a tremendous contribution in recent years in setting up working bakeries in poor parts of the Ukraine.The SAMB 40 group for bakers aged 40 and under, held its own AGM, chaired by Brian Sarafilovic who told delegates that, during the year, 20 members had been on a study tour to visit six bakeries in Northern Ireland.SAMB 40 GroupAt the BIE exhibition in Birmingham, the 40 Group had hosted a Chinese banquet for 50 people. Afterwards, members had held a karaoke night at which the singing “would have made rejects for the X Factor look unsuccessful”! said Sarafilovic.He told delegates that five new members had joined the 40 group, then he handed over the chain of office to incoming president Iain Campbell, of Campbells of Crieff, who said he was looking forward to the next two years and hoped to increase membership.At the evening banquet, at the Peebles Hydro Hotel, Keith Houliston, national sales director of Bakels, was made an honorary lifelong member of the SAMB for his support of the craft baking industry. He received a standing ovation in front of the packed dining hall of over 120 members and guests.
Rises in “underlying costs at farm level”, including energy and fuel, could force up bread prices in the longer term, according to Alex Waugh, chief executive of the National Association of British and Irish Millers (nabim).Speaking during a discussion at the Home Grown Cereal Authority’s (HGCA) Grain Market Outlook conference on 16 October, he said although further increases in bread prices in the short-term were unlikely and competition among retailers might even push them lower, he predicted that rising costs of wheat production would have a long-term impact on prices.Fuel costs have risen by 50% between July 2007 and July 2008 and the cost of fertiliser has rocketed by 161%. Robin Manning, head of cereals and wine at Defra, said it was “very easy to blame biofuels” and pointed to other factors, inclu-ding population changes, diet, the activities of speculators and weather conditions, as also having an effect on the market.Regarding this year’s harvest, Gary Sharkey, Rank Hovis head of wheat procurement, told British Baker that while there was likely to be enough milling wheat for bread, there were concerns at levels of wheat used for cakes and biscuits. He warned that the milling premium on this wheat could soon match that for breadmaking varieties, at around £40 or £50 a tonne, which was previously “unheard of”.—-=== In Short ===== Cool innovation ==Natural solution provider, Cleveland Biotech, has been named winner of the Field Service Innovation of the Year award at the 2008 Cooling Industry Awards. The accolade was given for the its Amnite L600 FridgeFree product, a biological solution for clearing gel build-up in the drains of commercial refrigeration units.== Book sought ==If anyone knows where a baker can lay his hands on a copy of ’Up-To-Date Confectionery’, a book by A R Daniel, published by Maclaren & Sons, please email Christopher Rose on [email protected], as he’s seeking a copy.== Torbay’s café trial ==Torbay Council is aiming to create a ’café culture’ in Paignton by closing Torbay Road to traffic for two trial periods. If tests are successful, the road could be permanently pedestrianised. The first trial, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, aims to boost trade over the festive period. If this proves a success, the Council plans to run the second trial during the summer.== Retail excellence ==A number of supermarkets scooped accolades at the Scottish Retail Excellence Awards 2008, held at the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow on Tuesday, 21 October. Tesco won the Retail Training Initiative award, Sainsbury’s took home the Customer Service Excellence award and Asda triumphed as National Chain of the Year.== Wastage Fine ==Carluccio’s, the chain of Italian restaurants and food shops, has been fined £15,000 for breaching packaging waste regulations. The firm pleaded guilty to failing to meet its requirements to recover and recycle packaging waste between 2004 and 2006.
== January ==* Greggs, now headed by Ken McMeikan, comes out on top in British Baker’s annual Top 50 bakery retailers list, with 1,368 UK outlets. It beats Subway, which comes in second with 1,020 shops.* Asda cuts artificial colours and flavours from all of its 9,000 own-label products after a 12-month project working with its bakery suppliers.* A strike at Warburtons is averted after a pay agreement is reached with the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU).* 41 jobs are saved after Kirtons Bakery buys the business and assets of UK Bakeries in Leicester.== February ==* There are massive job losses at the former Bernard Matthews sandwich business, after it is acquired by Kerry Foods – all 250 employees lose their jobs.* A survey by TNS Worldpanel reveals that families are trading up when it comes to indulgence. The research also notes mega trends such as healthy eating, convenience, local provenance and ethical consumerism.* The Cornish Pasty Association (CPA) waits to hear whether Defra will support its application for Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) for the Cornish Pasty.* Seven-outlet firm Bagel Nash announces plans to open another 50 outlets in the next five years.== March ==* Greggs reveals record full-year profits, up 12% on 2006 to £49m. The chain also reveals plans to extend its range of hot sandwiches.* Medway Foods’ pastry business is saved, alongside 40 jobs, after senior management takes control of the Welsh firm in a £1m deal.* British Bakels is granted permission to use the US Whole Grains Council’s Stamp, for its new Multi-Wholegrain mix, in the first move of its kind.Biggest equipment investment: Finsbury – £2mFinsbury announces plans to invest £2m in speciality bread-making equipment at its United Central Bakeries plant in Scotland, as well as intentions to relaunch the WeightWatchers and Thorntons brands in April.== April ==* Plans to spend £20m on a new bakery and shops in the north west are announced by Greggs, including one at Manchester Airport.The company also appoints a new chief executive, Ken McMeikan.* Head of Costa John Derkach denies rumours there are plans for Whitbread to sell off the coffee chain.* The pressure of global supply issues forces miller Rank Hovis to put up prices. It rises £34.38 a tonne, equivalent to a 55p increase per 16kg bag.* Sayers bakery begins talks with union officials over 150 redundancies. A worldwide escalation of raw materials and energy and fuel costs are blamed.== May ==* The steering group for the formulation of a National Skills Academy for bakery is formed, and is made up of 12 representatives across bakery, supply and industry associations.* Cooks the Bakery completes the acquisition of 120 leasehold stores from the administrators of Three Cooks.* Chris Beaney becomes NA president. George Stevenson is appointed SAMB president and John Lindsay, of BakeMark, is the new ABST student president.* Hallett’s Bakers, in Torquay, claims to have made the largest scone ever. At 26kg, it is apparently 700 times bigger than a standard size.* A buyer is sought for Tindale & Stanton after the company is taken into administration.== June ==* A management buy-out is staged, after the Lyndale Group goes into administration, seeing the loss of 450 jobs. A new company Sayers the Bakers is formed.* South Wales-based Best Bakeries is hoping for a management buy-out after going into administration. Meanwhile, 60-shop Ferrari’s Fresh, which had been supplied by Best Bakeries, sees 32 of its outlets transferred to new owner, ICD Wales, after the business goes into administration.* Délifrance reveals plans to double its business within two years, following the opening of its new production facility in Leicester.Biggest merger: The formation of AryztaIAWS and Hiestand merge to create the world’s biggest maker of frozen baked goods, now known as Aryzta, taking its revenue in excess of E2.4bn (£2.1bn).== July ==* Chatwins, based in Cheshire, makes the switch to Fairtrade in all its 20 coffee shops and lounges. It will now serve Fairtrade tea, coffee and filter coffee.* More than 200 staff are made redundant as the Peter Hunt bakery is unable to find a buyer, after its parent company, the Lyndale Group, goes into administration in June.* New York City sees the implementation of the trans-fat ban on food sold in all foodservice establishments.* Around 600 US Starbucks outlets close as part of its “transformation strategy”.Biggest health issue: Salt reduction proposalsThe Food Standards Agency (FSA) sets new salt targets in bakery and launches a public consultation on its proposals.== August ==* Hovis reinstates its little loaf, as Premier Foods adds four loaves to its Hovis’ 400g in order to capitalise on a “key growth area”.* A number of companies, including Greggs and Kerry Foods, oppose plans for Cornish pasties’ Protected Geographic Indication (PGI), due to fears it would “limit consumer choice”.* Coffee chain Gloria Jeans announces plans to expand its franchise into the UK market from its current nine shops to 150.* Northern Foods reveals plans to close one of its two biscuit plants.== September ==* The Baking Industry Awards took place at the Grosvenor House hotel in London. Among the highlights is Vandemoortele’s Baker of the Year award, won by Piero Scacco.* Dave Brooks steps down as chief executive at Finsbury Foods, to be replaced by Martin Lightbody.* Two big names join forces – Campden & Chorleywood Food Research Association (CCFRA) and Brewing Research International (BRI) merge to become Campden BRI.Biggest relaunch: The Hovis brandPremier Foods’ relaunch of its Hovis brand gets under way with a massive £15m campaign. Promotional spend is to complement additional investment in capital and recipe improvements.== October ==* The talk of the industry is the government’s decisions to deregulate traditional bread weights, with a new European directive to come in next April.* Maple Leaf closes two of its bakeries – in Dunstable and Bedfordshire – due to the worsening economic climate.* Hobbs House Bakery unveils the Behemoth – a 5kg loaf made from its organic Wild White sourdough.* Milanese boutique bakery chain Princi opens its first UK shop and announces plan to open another 10 in the capital in the next five years.== November ==* Associated British Food (ABF) reveals positive revenue growth in its full-year results, with revenue in its ingredients division up 21%.* Craft bakeries are facing a shortage of skilled workers after Eastern European workers continue to leave the UK and return home.Troubled times: Firkins aims to keep goingWest Midlands bakery Firkins is forced to close 20 shops after going into administration. Managing director, Ian Bolderston managed to buy back 30 of the company’s 53 stores, from the administrators, saving 200 jobs.== December ==* South Wales-based bakery chain Ferrari’s is put into liquidation, follo-wing advice from the company’s financial investors.* The Real Good Food Company predicts profit before taxation of around £0.5m in its full-year results to 31 December.* Stephen Hallam, MD of Dickinson & Morris Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe, Melton Mowbray, Leicester, reports pie sales are up 30% on the same period last year.
With Christmas out of the way let’s roll out Easter! These innovative Easter Bun Swirls are ideal as ready-to-eat snacks, a major advantage over the ever-popular Hot Cross Bun.The technique is based around products such as Chelsea Buns (without the batching) or Pain au Raisin. The dough is simply spiced bun dough with an orange-flavoured crème pâtissière filling.The combination of the enriched dough and orange crème pâtissière achieves a wonderfully indulgent treat. This recipe idea is versatile and could be manufactured on a small-scale or large-scale production line, if your business is already manufacturing this style of product.Crème PâtissièreIngredients AmountEgg yolk 200gCastor sugar 250gCake flour 80gFresh milk 1,000mlVanilla flavour to tasteOrange flavour to tasteMethod1. Add the egg yolks and 70g of the sugar to the mixing bowl and whisk until it is pale and forms a light ribbon.2. Combine all of the milk and 130g of the sugar into a pan and bring to the boil.3. Add about 1/3 of the milk mixture to the mixing bowl. Whisk until clear.4. Add the mixture back into the pan and cook for a couple of minutes. Ensure the mix is continually stirred.5. Remove from heat and combine flavours. Then cool.Top TipTo make life easier, pastry creams can also be bought in as powdered mixes. I also used the Unifine clean-label custard with really good results. Just add cold water and mix.Spice Bun Recipe – Dough mixtureIngredient AmountBread flour 2,000gWater 1,250mlSalt 30gBlock yeast 60gMilk powder 80gShortening 240gImprover 10gSugar 240gGluten 20g- Fruit mixture (blend together evenly)Currants 500gSultanas 500gOrange/lemon zest 160gBun-spice powder 12gOr use your own Hot Cross Bun recipeMethod1. Mix the dough mixture until well developed. Then add the fruit mixture at the last stage of mixing on slow speed. Try to ensure even fruit distribution. 2. Allow dough to rest until relaxed. 3. Roll out the dough to 7mm depth. 4. Then spread over a thin even layer of crème pâtissière. 5. Coil the dough. 6. Using a scraper cut to desired thickness and place into a baking case or simply place onto a baking sheet (as you would for Pain au Raisin). Allow to prove at 22°C for at least 2 hours. 7. Bake at 200°C for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown. Then glaze.
Subway is the latest high street bakery retailer to offer shoppers a speedy way to pay for snacks and sandwiches.It is trialling a new payment system in some of its stores that enables people to buy items for less than £10 by touching their credit card against a sensor, without having to take it out of their wallet or enter a PIN number. A Subway spokeswoman said: “We’re looking at it and hoping to roll it out later this year.”Pret A Manger, Coffee Republic, Krispy Kreme and EAT stores already allow payments with Barclaycard’s contactless payment system – OnePulse – and the card company reports that other firms including some “extremely well-known names” in the sector are set to join up later this year. Pret A Manger recently announced it would launch the card system across its whole portfolio by April after a successful seven-store trial in London.All newly issued Barclaycard Platinum cards now include contactless technology and more than 1 million contactless cards have already been issued. A Barclaycard spokesman said the card was a particular hit with retailers offering food and drink to go: “It’s very useful when retailers are taking a lot of transactions, such as during the morning rush and lunch hour, but it’s not just the big companies who can benefit – size shouldn’t matter.”He added that the card was proving increasingly popular with consumers: “People don’t use new things from the word go but we’re starting to see more take-up.”l The Post Office’s latest Consumer Credit Report reveals 10 million people intend to use their credit card in the first half of the year for daily purchases such as grocery shopping, with a trend for many to rely on their cards for basic day-to-day purchases.