Maple Leaf Bakery UK says it plans to offer a range of bake-off products and sliced bread in the UK, following its acquisition of the £20m turnover former Harvestime (2005) plant bakery in Walsall last week.Welcoming the deal, UK MD Peter Maycock said: “All stakeholders, specifically our employees, customers and suppliers can take comfort from the fact the bakery now has the backing of the international Maple Leaf Foods organisation. We look forward to building the Walsall bakery back to a successful growth business with a long-term future.” Deputy MD Guy Hall told British Baker the asset purchase will allow the UK business to diversify its range. Maple Leaf Bakery, part of Canada’s largest food processing company Maple Leaf Foods, is currently best known for producing New York Bagel Company-branded bagels. It has three existing sites in the UK.Mr Hall commented: “We are primarily bagel bakers in this country. This acquisition is a strategic fit, and sits well with our ambition to be a broader supplier in the UK.” He emphasised the company will continue to produce sliced bread at the Walsall bakery. It plans to produce more premium sliced bread, and the Harvestime brand will continue to be used “in some capacity.” The 248 Harvestime employees at the site have been taken on in the deal, Mr Hall said.The Walsall bakery sale to Maple Leaf, announced on Friday, March 24, comes after only a week of talks with administrators, Guy Hall revealed. He commented: “We had looked at the business several months ago, but its business model is significantly different now. At the time it had a large direct- to-store delivery fleet and a less favourable product mix.”Mr Hall indicated that Maple Leaf Bakery UK plans to consider further opportunities for acquisition in the UK as they arise.Maple Leaf Bakery UK is based in South Yorkshire and makes bagels at its Rotherham bakery, pretzels at The Original Pretzel Co in Southend and other speciality bakery products in Cumbria.Harvestime (2005), formerly part of New Rathbones, had been in administration since November 2005, and previously in April 2005.John Kelly, joint administrator from Begbies Traynor said: “I am confident that the right purchaser has bought the business and the future of bread production in Walsall has been secured.”Analyst David Lang commented: “One would not imagine this will lead to pricing instability. It will fill a vacuum for private label.”
Bakery employers often find it extremely difficult to find the time or money to send their workers on essential training courses. So we have been busy thinking of ways in which we can help.Do you need to get your new staff up to speed on basic hygiene? Or need to refresh existing staff on the latest regulations? If the answer is yes to either of these questions, the NA’s new online training system may be able to help. All you need is a computer, speakers and a broadband connection. The package teaches bakers basic hygiene, while testing them at the same time. If they get questions wrong in the module, they have to redo it.We think there are many advantages with this system and we have tried to keep the costs of this down as much possible. It gives staff the flexibility to train by either using the computer in the bakery or at home, so saves you the cost of sending employees to college or the cost of hiring a private company to do the training.As more skilled EU workers are coming into the country and are working in bakeries, we have responded. As of 1 May, the certificate and training became available in Polish. We are looking into doing the same with Portuguese.The certificate has been approved by the Royal Institute of Public Health. The English version costs £30.26 inc VAT per candidate and £28.40 inc VAT for 10 or more candidates. The Polish version Basic Hygiene Course is £36.13 inc VAT per candidate and £34.27 inc VAT for 10 or more candidates.
Spiralling flour and fuel costs have helped propel the UK up the global ranking for bread prices, but the country remains one of the cheapest places to buy bread in the world.Figures from the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU’s) Worldwide Cost of Living Survey show the average price of a kilo of bread in London rose from £1.09 in September, 2006, to £1.45 a year later. In Manchester, prices rose from 88p to £1.11.The EIU said rises had been compounded by the strength of sterling and the weakness of the US dollar, which has seen the relative cost boosted further compared to countries with weakening currencies or those linked to the dollar.”Bread prices in the UK have risen in local currency terms as rising commodity prices have been passed on to consumers,” said Jon Copestake, food and drink analyst and EIU survey editor. “In Manchester, the prices we surveyed rose 15.2% in the last year, although only 1.2% in the past six months. In London, bread prices rose 20.1% in the past year, 13.6% of which came in the last 6 months.”Despite the price rises, the UK is still one of the cheapest places in the world to buy bread. Of 130 cities surveyed around the world, London ranked number 70, up from 81 in 2006, in terms of price, while Manchester was at 93, up from 103.”Bread in the UK is seen as more of a staple than other countries. Production is highly developed and commoditised,” said Copestake. “Large scale consumption allows companies to exploit economies of scale and the market is highly competitive.”The research was based on bread from three categories of retailer. ’Low’ covers multiples, such as Tesco, ’medium’ equates to top-end supermarkets such as M&S and specialist shops, and ’high’ comprises food halls.
All 250 workers at Bernard Matthews’ sandwich business have been made redundant, after it was acquired by Irish company Kerry Foods.Around 150 jobs have been axed with the closure of the company’s Dunstable factory, with the remaining redundancies coming from the van sales business.Frank Hayes, director of corporate affairs at Kerry Foods, confirmed to British Baker that it had acquired the assets of the sandwich-making firm, but had told the Dunstable workforce that it would not be required to operate the facility.The Bernard Matthews sandwich business in Dunstable opened in 2003 and, through the Yummy Food Company brand, supplied retailers including Superdrug and Morrisons. However, a Bernard Matthews spokesman said: “Following an extensive review of our business in the current and projected challenging trading environment, it has become clear that we need to change the strategies and organisation if we are to secure Bernard Matthews’ future as a sustainable business.” He added the company would now concentrate on its “historical core business of turkey farming and production”.Miles Hubbard, regional industrial organiser of the Unite union, which represents Bernard Matthews workers, said the redundancies were “regrettable” but the only alternative appeared to be “summary closure”.
As Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte descended on London recently with the arrival of Sex And The City, never did the humble cupcake enjoy such fashion iconic status.Seen as the must-have accessory for birthday parties, ladies’ afternoon tea parties and girlie evenings, the cupcake is enjoying its new-found red carpet status as the Jimmy Choo of the tea set.The cupcake (American term) or fairy cake (British term) was first baked at the turn of the 20th century. The name comes from the measurement of ingredients – equal proportions of 1 cup of butter, sugar, flour and eggs, in a similar way to the pound cake. The cakes are also thought to have been baked in individual tea cups, taking much less time to bake than a traditionally larger cake.Hostess presented the first commercially produced cupcakes in 1919, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that the cupcakes were dressed with frosting, cream cheese and sprinkles. Not to be confused with a muffin, which is usually less sweet, has no frosting and can include savoury varieties, the cupcake has now become the preferred name universally with bakeries such as Magnolia Bakery in New York, the Primrose Bakery, Hummingbird Bakery, Fru Fru and Lola’s Kitchen in London offering a range of flavours, including Red Velvet with whipped vanilla icing; Devil’s Food with mocha, caramel or cream cheese icing and Coconut topped with meringue.It was in Stockholm, surprisingly, that I experienced this cupcake culture. I stopped for coffee and ordered a carrot cupcake with orange cream cheese frosting. The cupcake was presented on a plate, sliced vertically with an over-generous orange cream cheese deposited much like a Mr Whippy ice cream. It made a real sense of occasion – but it was, indeed, very sweet!I don’t make cupcakes per se, but at Little Venice Cake Company we take the cupcake revolution one step further by creating individual cakes fully covered with either chocolate or sugar paste and intricately hand decorated.The Berkeley Hotel in London serves afternoon tea inspired by the current fashions, known as Pret-a-Portea on Paul Smith china. From now until December they are offering a Sex And The City weekend stay that includes access to a complete boxed set of the film’s DVDs with chocolate handbags and iced shoe biscuits, nibbles, and coloured cupcakes.I, for one, will be checking in and indulging in all things sweet.
== March 3, 1933: catchphrase competition ==”Keep your own harem; let us supply your sultanas.” This is a catchy phrase, and if used by an advertiser in The British Baker, would be sure to draw attention to that firm’s announcement. Can you think of others for display advertisements? Think of 12 similar phrases having some bearing on bakery products. The Editor of The British Baker offers a prize of £2 2s. for what, in his opinion, is the best set of 12 phrases sent in.The following are examples and must not be included in your 12 phrases:l “Let us supply your fruit, the raison d’être of our resistance.”l “Use our yeast. Come on, rise to it.”l “Are you fond of animals? If so, try our butter, it won’t get your goat.”
Potatoes are a very popular vegetable in Europe and were first cultivated by the Incas, in Peru, 6,000 years ago. They were brought to Europe by the Spanish Conquistadors to impress Royalty in around 1570.Although they started out as an expensive and exotic food, they became part of the British staple diet in the 18th century. The effects of the potato blight in 1840s Ireland are well-known, as the population dropped dramatically. It is thought that more than a million people died and another million emigrated.For culinary uses, potatoes are placed into two groups, waxy and floury. The floury potatoes are better for mashing, baking, roasting and frying and the waxy potatoes are better served as boiled potatoes, grated in rosti and sliced in gratins or put in stews. Choose potatoes that have a smooth skin and are firm. They should also not be bruised, green-tinged or sprouting. Mashed potato can be used to make Irish potato cakes, added to pastry for savoury pies, used in a very moist chocolate cake or mixed into bread dough. Uncooked grated potato can be put into cakes such as ginger cake or used instead of carrots or parsnips in a loaf cake.For more information on which type of potatoes to use see [http://www.britishpotatoes.co.uk]In season; main-crop potatoes are harvested September/October, but are available most of the year.Fiona Burrell, co-author of Leiths Baking Bible, from the world-famous Leiths School of Food and Wine—-=== In my world: the craft baker ===So here it is! The shock waves that were first reported earlier in the year have rippled out from the American Sub-Prime epicentre and are, right now, shaking the Cotswolds. Many people have battened down the hatches and are not venturing out. In an instant, we find footfall is the main problem, as are wastage, labour costs and knowing what to do first.So here is what I’ve done. The shop, with a café, has been most affected, so I have seized the reins, made the manager redundant and not replaced the outgoing summer staff, making immediate labour cost savings. This has only been made sustainable by reducing the opening times and changing everyone’s contract, so we now have only one very focused shift. I have also dramatically altered our café offering, so there is nothing made to order, installed a self-service dresser that makes tempting treats more accessible, complete with travelling toaster, which has been popular and encourages customers to try our breads. I have encouraged take-out loyalty, by introducing a little sandwich card, which we stamp each time a sandwich is bought – and the 10th one is on us. This sits alongside our well-used Coffee Loyalty Card. One team member has been tasked with monitoring orders/sales/wastage, so that we can be on top of these things on a daily basis.Across the shops, I have relaunched the humble 800g split tin and standard wholemeal as ’Budget Bread’ and put posters up outside, reading, “Hobbs House Quality for only £1.45”. This has been a great way of challenging the general perception that our offering is only top-end and has had the effect of increasing the sales of our premium loaf.The economic situation demands that we look at our business in a sharper way, find the things that aren’t working well enough and deal with them. If we survive, our businesses will be keener and fitter than before. How cathartic – a forced and early spring clean!I can report that bread sales are still strong, including the organic bread, and there has been growth in premium patisserie – I assume for customers who want to eat well at home instead of a meal out. The leaner team at the bakery/café has made for a better atmosphere, so service is better than ever. Anyone can sell when times are good, but during a downturn, sales staff training needs to be comprehensive. So, to avoid complacency, customer service training is my next focus.If only I knew if any of these actions will be enough to weather the storm. If you have any storm-proof tips or ideas. please let me [email protected]—-=== Culture corner: book review ===== Baking and Bakeries (£4.99) by HG Muller ==Anyone ordering a complete history of Baking and Bakeries off Amazon and expecting a letterbox-challenging brick of a book will be relieved to learn that your postie won’t be risking a hernia by having to lug an undelivered package back to depot. Weighing in at a mere 32 pages (including lots of pictures), this re-issue as part of the Shire Classics series, originally published in 1986, impressively races through 5,000 years of bread baking. This is little surprise, given that not much changed in baking technology between Roman times and the 1800s, when the back-breaking labour of mixing was finally done away with by mechanical mixers and “perpetual ovens”, and industrialised baking and moulders came into use for the first time.Tracing baking’s origins, Muller throws up a few intriguing facts: the typical ancient Egyptian was no carb-dodger, munching through an average 500g of bread per day. Nor were Egyptian bakers too hung up about clean labels, adding moth-repelling chemical camphor to bread, to delay staling. By the Middle Ages, the baker had developed the reputation of being unscrupulous, often accused of selling underweight bread, with grim punishment for those caught, including being burned to death in one’s own oven.The concluding potted history of 20th century industrial advances is particularly accessible to industry newcomers, or for anyone with a short attention span.
Robert Winters, co-owner, Tapa Bakehouse & Coffeehouse, GlasgowYou’re from New Zealand originally, so how did you end up running an organic bakery and coffee shop in Glasgow?It’s a complicated story. Back in New Zealand, I was a trade union official and my wife, Virginia Webb, was a policy advisor. We decided to take a career break to do some travelling, and ended up in Scotland. We liked the place so much, we decided to stay. I’ve always been an enthusiastic home baker and we are both really into coffee – New Zealand coffee shops are way ahead of those in Britain in terms of quality – so we decided to set up a bakery and a café. Tapa Bakehouse launched in 2003, selling organic bread such as sourdough, focaccia and rye bread.We then developed a wholesale business to delis, food halls and restaurants, and started attending farmers’ markets. We opened the 60-seater Tapa Coffeehouse three months ago and employ 24 people.What formal bakery training have you had to date?I did a year-long National Certificate in Baking at the local college, which taught me the fundamentals, and I’ve learned a lot from books and the internet. I’ve also had some great advice from Andrew Whitley at Bread Matters and the team at the Lighthouse Bakery. Most of what I’ve learned has come from trying out different recipes at home and learning on the job. I’m passionate about using organic ingredients and I’ve developed recipes without additives, improvers, fat and sugar. We employ six bakers now and I’ve helped train them all, passing on the knowledge I’ve built up.What’s your role in the company?We’ve employed a master baker from Hungary, who has brought some fantastic skills to the business, so I’m less hands-on than before. I’ve taken on more of a general manager role, helping with training, new product development and the overall direction of the business. I’m keen for staff to take ownership of their roles. For example, one of our bakers is being trained to look after new products and another is responsible for wholesale. It’s a similar story with the coffee shop staff. We are looking at ways of developing this further, with staff able to buy equity in the company so that, if it performs well, they will benefit.What’s the secret of your success?We have an eye for detail and are never happy with what we have achieved. Our products are great and people love them, but it’s impossible to produce the perfect loaf. There’s always something you can improve on.
Holland’s is adding a new pie to its frozen offering Peppered Steak Pie. Available in a two-pack, the recipe contains chunks of diced steak in a creamy peppercorn sauce. The pre-baked pies, which can be microwaved from frozen, are targeted at those in search of a quick meal or snack.The launch of the frozen Peppered Steak Pie is the first in a wave of new Holland’s products being unveiled this year, helping to commemorate the brand’s 160th anniversary.Holland’s frozen Peppered Steak Pie has an RSP of £2.
Finsbury Food Group has posted a 12.6% increase in group revenue in its preliminary results for the year to 2 July 2011, aided by the return to growth of its cake division.The manufacturer of cake, bread and morning goods saw adjusted profit before tax up 8.3% to £5.8m. Group revenue stood at £189.6m.Sales in its cake division increased 12.1% over the financial period to £139.6m, while its bread and free-from sales continued to see a good rate growth, with sales up 14.2% to £50m.The firm said the increased revenue within bread and free-from had come from its investment in the Vogels brand, as well as the ongoing growth of its fresh free-from range of both Genius branded products and own-label.The past financial year has seen Finsbury add Disney small cakes to its licensed portfolio, and the expansion of the Genius range of free-from products to include pies and sausage rolls.CEO John Duffy said Finsbury had succeeded in returning to organic growth – “an important milestone for the group” – but added the difficulties it faced, from the price rises in global commodities, should not be underestimated.