Carr’s Milling Industries said it has weathered storms and fire as it delivered annual results ahead of expectations last month.The Carlisle-based agriculture and food company said its Silloth flour mill lost three months’ sales due to damage left by the local McVitie’s biscuit factory in floods in January, as well as the fire that destroyed the New Rathbones bakery in Carlisle in February. But the acquisition of the Meneba mil-ling business, which has two mills in Kirkcaldy, Fife, and Maldon, Essex, has been successful, doubling the size of Carr’s flour milling operation.Carr’s also bought various assets from the administrators of animal feed firm W & J Pye in 2005. This allowed it to rationalise and close mills at Black-burn, Penrith and Shrewsbury. Prospects for further growth are good, with flour trading strongly and the group’s engineering division continuing to improve its performance, chairman Lord Inglewood said.The company said pre-tax profits in the year to Septem-ber 3 were up by 19.8% to £6.14 million on turnover ahead by 23.4% at £192.1m.
BakeMark UK (Wirral, Merseyside) has launched a new flapjack in response to growing consumer demand for ‘better-for-you’ snacks. Combining cranberries, sunflower seeds and oats, the fruit flapjack offers a healthier ingredient list than traditional snacks, says the company.Supplied ready-to-bake, the flapjacks are quick and easy to prepare, ideal for high-volume foodservice and retail applications, says BakeMark. Vera Malhotra, head of marketing at BakeMark UK says: “By offering a luxury fruit and seed-packed product that does not compromise on snack satisfaction, bakers can shrug off the ‘worthy but boring’ image traditionally associated with healthy products and combine indulgence with a better-for-you proposition.”The flapjacks are also available in a Belgian milk chocolate version for the ultimate sweet treat, says the ingredients and finished products supplier.
Food Design has developed a concept that it feels will add that extra finishing touch to doughnuts.Consumers already enjoy a sprinkle on top of iced doughnuts, but Food Design has developed its freeze/thaw-stable Fudjie Crumb in a variety of natural flavours and colours. They are available in white and green mint, orange, strawberry, lemon and cappuccino, and add texture, eye appeal and extra flavour to this meal-time treat.Instead of jam in the middle of the doughnut, the company is offering an alternative with its sauces, toffee and fruit flavours.Managing director Colin Hunter says: “I believe not only should food be exciting to the tongue, but also delightful to the eye. Our new vivid and exciting range fulfils both criteria.”
We breathed a sigh of relief at the Chief Medical Officer’s recent intervention to stall the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) proposal to fortify bread with folic acid.The move was triggered by a review in the British Journal of Nutrition. This found it was wrong of the FSA to assume folic acid would behave the same as the natural form of the B vitamin, folate.It turns out that unmetabolised folic acid appears in the body after eating just one slice of fortified bread and then accumulates as more is eaten. This is a huge concern, as many negative effects are associated with unmetabolised folic acid: cancer, mental decline in the elderly, more multiple births among women having fertility treatment (which have higher health risks), and reduced success of anti-folate drug treatment.These surely outweigh the tiny predicted reduction in neural tube defects (NTD) – 22-36 fewer NTD births each year, plus up to 110 fewer terminations – that was the sole objective of fortification.It is worrying how the FSA’s ’science-based’ proposal was actually based on assumptions. This seems to be a repeat of the situation with other vitamins, where natural and artificial nutrient sources were wrongly assumed to have the same effects.
Readers, please picture the following scene – with the caveat that it’s not for the faint-hearted, and British Baker cannot be held responsible for any tears which might be shed: “We found an outstanding sandwich shop in the centre of Leeds. The woman was actually cutting the chicken off the bone. It was hot and she was putting it into the sandwich. She was cutting the avocado fresh. It was emotional.”Emotional, indeed! Who could not be moved by such an image? If ever an ambassador were needed to talk-up why bakery retailers should stop their ceaseless stampede towards “value-engineered” sandwiches – meaning cheapo eats – then they should hunt down “female, Leeds, children 0-5, BC1″, who was quoted in market research firm IGD’s new food-to-go report.The price war in food-to-go sandwiches has affected everyone, with the formerly premium-loving Pret offering a sandwich range all priced under £2.50, Greggs’ price point shifting down to 99p, and Subway launching low entry-point snacks such as cheese toasties. But as the market downshifts, there is a real danger that innovation in the sector has been stifled, and consumers will get bored, says British Sandwich Association director Jim Winship.”There has been a knee-jerk reaction to recession,” he says. “Yes, you’ve got to have a low-cost range of sandwiches, but if you over-promote that, you can fulfil your own prophecy. Our data suggests people aren’t that price-sensitive when it comes to sandwiches. There’s little evidence to suggest that premium sandwiches have taken a dip in sales, other than the fact that retailers have reduced their ranges, which distorts the picture anyway.” The danger is that sandwiches become devalued, he adds.Sandwich consultant Jesper Toft of Sandwich International agrees, citing the pizza price war of the 90s, where “everybody forgot to make any money and it never really recovered. It’s seen as a cheap and tacky food whereas before, the perception was higher,” he warns.”There are certain people who will respond to cheaper sandwiches, but there aren’t that many of them, and you can’t push the whole market towards them. The trouble is, if you drop the price, you’re not going to sell two sandwiches to somebody – you’re still only going to sell them one! There’s a danger that the market could go too far, where everybody is trying to put 99p sandwiches out, and there’s no real need for that. In fact, people in work probably have more money than they did last year, as a result of cheaper mortgages.”Innovation versus priceThe logic is that as expense accounts are cut, higher earners “slum it” with a Pret; some Pret consumers trade down to M&S; and M&S sees some value trade slipping away to Greggs. “I think we’ve bottomed out now,” says food consultant Nellie Nichols. In fact, the former Pret sandwich guru says NPD work in the industry is now shifting back up to mid-tier price points – which satisfy both ends of the market – as consumers tire of zero-bells-and-whistles sarnies.”The cost-engineered products are very dull and their shelf-life from a popularity point of view is limited,” she says. “People are going to start looking for more innovative products – and I can see that coming through in the work that I’m doing. How often can you eat a £1 sandwich that is nothing more than two pieces of bread with some cheese in between? They’re out. They have been popular but their sales will start declining.”So there are opportunities for better price points with the right marketing. Georgina Wild of market research firm him! says that in order to counteract consumers switching towards making their own lunch, bakery retailers could offer a sandwich club – a loyalty scheme or offer with a meal deal – which can hold its own against the likes of M&S’s £2 sandwich-crisps-drink meal deal.”Our latest recession research shows consumers are going to be watching the pennies more closely – no surprise there – and that more of them will want meal deals, money-off vouchers and loyalty schemes.” Even the usually reluctant coffee shops are about to begin re-invigorating their sandwich offering with meal deals, such as Costa Coffee’s imminent lunchtime deal of any panini and a cappuccino for £4.95 – a trend which may yet catch on.”We have a number of initiatives across the year, each of which has been developed to drive a number of key measures for us such as brand perception, customer satisfaction, value for money and loyalty,” explains Costa’s head of food Beverley Phillips. “We will be investigating if and when we do run any further offers once we have reviewed the imminent panini and coffee deal.”Meanwhile, Kate Raison, marketing director at Bakehouse, says there is a huge untapped market for hand-held savoury pastries as an add-on to a lunchtime sandwich meal deal, such as cheese twists, which have proved popular in the supermarket lunchtime trade.Fresh is bestToft suggests focusing on freshness, health and flavour – through the use of more herbs, spices and superfoods – as a positive way to develop your range. During IGD’s focus groups, most consumers cited freshness and quality of sandwiches as being interlinked, with many seeking out high-quality ingredients.The Subway factor of course cannot be ignored. Now the biggest sandwich retailer in the UK, it’s hit upon a winning formula of freshness and meal deals, which bakery retailers can learn from and even better, by offering top-quality bread carriers, says Max Jenvey of food-to-go marketing consultants Oxxygen.”[Bakery retailers] need a few sandwiches around the low-price entry-point – classically, your egg mayo, your cheese and tomato, and more veg-filled products,” he says. “But what they should really be doing is driving value through quality of bread and ingredients. Consumers are increasingly looking for fresh-fill and baked-off bread, which is one of the reasons why Subway is dominating – that’s what’s driving the market.”And freshness means no YouTube videos of staff shoving salad up their nose, as recently afflicted poor Subway, which may be another “emotional” sandwich shop scene, but for all the wrong reasons.—-=== Him! asked coffee shop customers: ===== Q Do you plan to eat in or take away the sandwiches/baguettes/wraps you’ve bought here today? ==Sample size 349Eat in 72%Take away 22%Don’t know 7%What this means: the majority of customers want to eat their sandwich on the premises, so invest in good seating and create a clean, comfortable ambiance.== Q When you came in here today did you know exactly what you were going to buy? ==Sample size 1,014Yes 68%No 31%Don’t know 1%What this highlights: the importance of menus and staff to help make suggestions and up-sell products to a third of customers—-=== Him! conducted a study of shopping habits in a recession during March, and asked: ===== Q As a result of the current economic climate, will you be collecting money-saving vouchers and tokens more, the same or less over the next 12 months compared with last year? ==Study Avg Male FemaleSample size 1,017 488 529More 44% 38% 49%The same 49% 53% 45%Less 1% 2% 0%Not applicable 4% 5% 3%Don’t know 2% 2% 2%This shows: unsurprisingly, people are on the lookout for deals== Q As a result of the current economic climate, will you be joining shop loyalty card schemes more, the same or less in the next 12 months compared with the last year? ==Study Avg Male FemaleMore 24% 18% 30%The same 57% 57% 57%Less 5% 7% 3%Not applicable 10% 14% 7%Don’t know 4% 4% 4%What this suggests: a quarter of consumers, especially females, could be tempted away from their lunchbox with loyalty offers—-=== Speciality breads used in sandwiches are still on the up ===2004 2005 2006 2007 2008Sandwiches / takeaway breads (£m) 373 394 405 443 469Change year-on-year (%) n/a 5.6 2.8 9.4 5.9Source: Key Note Bread & Bakery, March 2009; note: shows UK household expenditure on speciality breads—-=== Which of the following do you often buy for lunch? ===All Female MaleTotal (200) (117) (83)Sandwiches 91% 90% 92%Crisps 31% 26% 39%Fruit 31% 32% 30%Salads 28% 30% 25%Chocolate 23% 22% 23%Savoury pastries such as Cornish pasties, sausage rolls or cheese twists 20% 11% 33%Soups 19% 18% 19%Ready meals 15% 13% 18%Sweet bakery products 14% 15% 12%—-=== How important is each of the following in encouraging you to buy lunch at a particular food outlet? ===All Female MaleTotal (200) (117) (83)Clear shelf labels 57% 63% 48%Fully stocked shelves 45% 53% 34%Money-off offers 44% 44% 43%Warm food options 42% 38% 47%Freshly baked options 41% 44% 36%Meal deals 33% 33% 33%Takeaway packaging 31% 27% 35%Vegetarian food options 15% 19% 10%—-=== Have your lunch buying habits changed recently? ===All Female MaleTotal (200) (117) (83)No 71% 68% 75%Yes – I buy lunch out a bit less often now 19% 20% 17%Yes – I still buy lunch out as often but look for deals and offers 10% 11% 7%Not stated / other 1% 1% 1%Source: Bakehouse independent research; 200 interviews were conducted anonymously by telephone over the period 25-30 March, 2009, from a sample drawn at random from office workers around the UK (who buy their lunch at least two to three times per week and not from a canteen)—-=== One in five who have meals-to-go are ’fanatics’ – purchasing them four or more times a week. They are more likely to be male, aged under 45 and currently working ===l More than half (56%) of food-to-go consumers decide where to purchase primarily on the freshness or quality of products.l 46% rate service as a key driver with a third rating quick service as key. Any model that combines fast service with customisation is well-placed to be popular.l Around one in three (31%) mention price as a key driver of store choice for food-to-go compared to 58% for their main shopping.l 47% of food-to-go consumers have economised due to the economic downturn, particularly women, those aged 25-44, and those in lower social groups.l 10% are more likely to stick to a set budget and 10 % are buying more multi-packs to save money on snacks.l Around seven in ten consumers who purchase either cold drinks, snacks, sandwiches, pies, pasties, sausage rolls, biscuits, cakes or pastries can be tempted to change their mind on what to purchase once inside the store.l Meal deals are generally popular among food-to-go consumers. Around a third (36%) of food-to-go consumers purchase meals including snacks and drinks.l Around a quarter (23%) think less about eating or drinking healthily when buying food or drink to consume on-the-go than when they are eating at home. Source: IGD
Retailers and manufacturers adore BOGOFs (buy one get one free) but these special offers damage brand equity and overall brand value, according to The Oxford Research Agency.Defra is looking to ban BOGOFs, as research shows they are the main contributor to 30% of all food being thrown away. As a result, the agency believes that this is a good time for brands to find other promotional mechanics that deliver ’brand health’ and consumer rewards.Bombarding consumers with a BOGOF offer on a product for a short-term ’blitz’, to raise awareness and boost sales, damages brand equity, it says, while the strongest brands are nurtured and grown over time, with longer-term promotions on areas such as health being used to connect and form a relationship with consumers. The agency advises that companies should also focus on quality, as higher-quality brands have been proven to achieve a larger market share and better profitability compared to inferior competitor products.Ensuring your brand has a clear and unique position in the market is also vital it says, whether this is achieved through the brand name, packaging, quality, image or service standards.
Traditionally, flapjacks are made using butter, golden syrup, sugar and rolled oats. They are very simple to make and are delicious and popular as they are. However, they do lend themselves to various additions or variations. For example, dried fruits, which have a little sharpness to them, counterbalance the sweetness well; try dried apricots, dried apples, dried cherries or dried cranberries. Mashed bananas can also be added to the mix.Nuts, such as flaked almonds, desiccated coconut, walnuts or pecan nuts are easily incorporated, and sunflower seeds also work well. For honey flapjacks, just use honey rather than golden syrup. If you prefer a chewier flapjack, add condensed milk. This flapjack recipe contains both condensed milk and apricots.Chocolate-covered Fruit FlapjacksIngredientsButter300gGolden syrup100gSoft light brown sugar300gCondensed milk200mlRolled oats500gDried apricots, chopped100gMilk chocolate300gWhite chocolate50gMethod1. Melt the butter, syrup, sugar and condensed milk together, making sure it does not get too hot. Mix in the oats and apricots.2. Press gently into the prepared tin and put in a 180C oven for 1520 minutes. They are ready when they start browning at the edge. The middle will still be a little soft but this will become firmer as the flapjacks cool.3. Allow the flapjacks to cool in the tin. Move to a wire rack and, once cold, spread melted milk chocolate over the top. Once this has set, drizzle melted white chocolate over the top.4. Once set, cut into bars or squares.
Travel retail giant SSP says it intends to roll out its new tea-led ’Best of British’ format Bread Box to London in the next few months.The value-for-money fascia, which launched at Manchester Piccadilly railway station last month, has had very positive feedback so far, SSP UK brands director Steve MacDavid told British Baker. He commented: “It is a simple classic brand, with tea served in a teapot, an antidote to all the mochachinos out there.”The menu includes traditional British fare, such as cups of Bovril, jam doughnuts, pork pies and white square bread rolls, which have been developed to order by craft baker Greenhalgh’s. Prices are in “round pounds” with all drinks in the same-sized cup and all priced at £1.MacDavid explained that the format had been in development since the start of the year and three further outlets would open in the next few months, at locations including London.SSP’s portfolio of brands also includes Caffè Ritazza, Upper Crust, Millie’s Cookies and Pumpkin, and it operates in more than 30 countries worldwide.
Maple Leaf Bakery is to entertain consumers with an early morning performance of Grease as part of a New York Bakery Breakfast Club initiative.The firm, which produces bagels under its New York Bakery Co brand, has worked with producers to condense the best bits of the show for a 20-minute performance, which will be held on 24 March at the Piccadilly Theatre, London, alongside a bagel breakfast.Beginning at 8.30am, the performance will include four musical numbers – Grease Is The Word, Summer Nights, Greased Lightnin’ and You’re the One That I Want – plus a finale.“The feel-good factor of the show, coupled with a healthy bagel breakfast, is a brilliant start to anyone’s day,” commented Michael Havard-Bilton, marketing director of Grease. “We hope the audience will love the concept as much as we do, so the New York Bakery Breakfast Club can be rolled out across the country.”>>Maple Leaf relaunches bagel brand
Till management and EPoS systems firm Aures Group has launched the new W-Touch “all-in-one” touchscreen equipment. It features a slimline, fanless and splash-proof design, and has been developed predominantly for wall-mounted till applications.The W-Touch, part of the Posligne range, is an integrated 15-inch touchscreen system, and is equipped with an Intel Atom Pineview dual-core D525 processor. The firm said the model is suitable for outlets where space is at a premium. It comes in graphite black and pure white.