Around 140 attendees are expected at the 76th National Federation of Bakery Students Societies and the Institute of Bread Bakers Alliance annual conference in Southport this Bank Holiday weekend. The event, which runs from April 28 to 30, will include a student competition for bread and confectionery, with 131 entries expected. The Alliance will also hold its AGM at the conference, which has been sponsored by bakery supplier California Raisins. Social activities will include a banquet and a musicals-themed fancy dress buffet. Paul Morrow, MD of ingredients company Bakels, will take over the presidency from David Tomlinson at the conference, and Simon Solway of Unifine Food & Bake Ingredients becomes president elect.
Suffolk baker Mark Felgate was named as “The Nation’s Tastiest Baker” of regional bread as part of the eighth Farmhouse Breakfast Week celebrations this week.Felgate, of The Cake Shop of Woodbridge, Suffolk (owned by Peter Wright), picked up the prize for his loaves including the Suffolk Trencher, an Anglo Saxon loaf made with four flours, seven varieties of seeds and a dash of honey.Lincolnshire bakers Mount Pleasant Windmill and Welbournes Bakery both received judges’ commendations for their plum loaves, as did Thomsons Bakery in Newcastle for its Brown Ale Bread.Farmhouse Breakfast Week, organised by the Home-Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA), aims to highlight the importance of breakfast and the range and quality of regional breakfast produce available in the UK. Over 1,500 events were due to take place across the country this week as part of the event.Speaking at the launch of the week, HGCA chief executive Jonathan Cowens said it was growing in popularity every year, with big retailers such as Tesco now supporting it.
Click here to download the floorplan and choose your preferred location Sunday October 14thThe UK’s only autumn exhibition for the progressive and professional independent baker, held in the modern and spacious environment of the Bolton Arena. Timed especially to aid pre-Christmas planning.
The importance of seeing that everything is perfect cannot be overestimated. For instance, say you have made 24 Madeira cakes that are not all they should be. The batter may have been cold and, instead of being potential ’trade-getters’, the resultant cakes are a little tough.Many confectioners pass articles like these into their shops every week, never pausing to consider the homes where that weekend they will exclaim, “Blank’s cakes are not as nice as they were.” A suggestion will be made to mothers and wives that they try somewhere else the following week.
When your customers are rushing to catch the 06.59 from Reading to Paddington, there is no time to get your product offering wrong. That’s why, even after 15 years of running coffee kiosks at major UK stations and airports, AMT Coffee regards quick service and using exceptional ingredients, such as 100% Fairtrade coffee and organic milk, as key. It also holds customer loyalty very dear, and even today, despite around 80% of customers repeat purchasing up to five times a week, the managing director reads every single customer comment.For the bakery goods on sale throughout AMT Coffee’s 44 kiosks, the standards are no less stringent. The latest additions to the food range, for example, use free-range eggs wherever possible. The chicken and ham used in its new sandwich and panini range is all British-reared, and only whole-muscle hams and mature cheese are considered.With bakery sales exceeding £1 million, AMT is naturally keen to capitalise on opportunities to take the company “beyond the bean”, so careful buying that succeeds in tempting the core coffee-drinking consumer into buying something to eat as well, is paramount.Retailing from small kiosks and catering for the ’grab and go’ consumer, there is little time and space for anything but the most basic on-site food preparation, with equipment limited to microwaves or panini grills, points out product manager Kate Bibbey, so products are mostly bought as finished goods.Products also have to be supplied at a competitive price. With so many direct and indirect competitors springing up both on high streets and in station concourses the country over, customers are very price-conscious, she says. For this reason, product price rises are an ongoing concern, and whether it’s because of cold winters in South Africa affecting orange harvests or soaring worldwide wheat prices, sorting out avoidable from unavoidable price rises is a time-consuming job.For these reasons, perhaps, would-be suppliers rarely get an immediate ’yes’ out of Bibbey. Suppliers who have met her would, she hopes, describe her as someone who is open and flexible, but who also knows what makes a really excellent new AMT bakery product. Finding a solution that benefits both parties may mean a frank, but collaborative discussion, she says, about work involving recipe reformulation – to ensure that only the very best ingredients are used – and involving product dimensions, so that new products fit well within existing ranges and can be displayed properly, given the space constraints within the AMT bars.About new suppliers, she says: “I love coming across suppliers who are genuinely passionate about what they’re making. Those that combine fantastic products – both ’old favourites’ and new innovations with commercial acumen – are really important in making sure that our partnerships with suppliers are fruitful.”With so many bars nationwide and weekly deliveries, shelf-life is also a consideration. However, even on this very crucial point, AMT can be flexible. Muffins from a new supplier offered such a powerful visual, taste and freshness appeal that Bibbey was prepared to take on their four-day shelf-life. The chain has also enjoyed success recently with a new sandwich range, which has a two-day rather than three-day shelf-life. The new range, which includes bespoke sandwiches, wraps and paninis, has surpassed even Bibbey’s expectations, as there has been a six-fold increase in sales of this category since the range was rolled out nationally in December.AMT finds its suppliers from the usual shows, as well as from keeping an eye on current events in the bakery world. Bibbey particularly likes to keep an eye on the latest winners of ’Great Taste Awards’ as they “often reveal the smaller suppliers who don’t necessarily have a marketing budget but who are making delicious, beautifully packaged products”. Kiosk managers also get to have a say.Recently, though, the company advertised for new business in trade titles, including British Baker, which proved particularly effective in reaching smaller, unknown suppliers. Three- quarters of respondents came from this sector, which has significantly added to the company’s potential repertoire. She adds: “Finding a supplier with a ’can-do’ attitude and passion about their products makes working together a pleasure. Some small suppliers don’t understand the importance of good packaging to sell products in the grab-and-go environment, so when I come across those with great products and flexibility regarding the packaging, I know I’m on to a good thing.”As a rule, Bibbey looks to add one new product a month, but may trial two or three, so sup- pliers have around a 30% chance of making it on to AMT’s shelves. Quality, presentation and logistics aside, the deciding factor on whether a product is stocked is how well it sells during the trial. A good example of a recent new listing is the Toffee Waffle, a delicious melt-in-the-mouth recipe from a small supplier in Wales, that uses only free-range eggs and gooey toffee. “These are especially nice when the toffee is melted by resting the waffle on top of your hot drink,” Bibbey notes, with the tone of some hands-on experience. At the end of the day, AMT’s mainstream business is serving its customers delicious coffee and providing products that match that quality. As Bibbey says: “No matter how great a product tastes, if it doesn’t look good, we’ll be disappointed with sales.”—-=== Kate Bibbey at a glance ===Job history: Languages and Economics student from The University of Edinburgh, who became passionate about Fairtrade and the effect of our consumption habits on the developing world after living for a number of years in South America. This passion fuelled her decision to take the job at AMT Coffee.Bibbey has worked for AMT Coffee for one-and-a-half years.Top tip to new suppliers: “Do your research before you contact us, so that you can tailor what you can offer to our needs.”Favourite product: Sweet Oaties Scottish biscuits, made by hand in Edinburgh.Outside interests: “After sampling lots of goodies I like to run it off at the on-site gym. I’m also keen on singing and I like eating out in interesting restaurants. As in my work, I am always keen to try something different!”—-=== Potted history ===AMT was created in 1992 by the three McCallum brothers. The youngest, Alistair, had arrived in Oxford from Seattle and noticed that decent coffee was hard to come by. He asked his two brothers to join him in a new venture, selling real coffee from street carts in Oxford. The carts were quickly followed by kiosks in train stations and airports. AMT, which is a small, private company, became the first in the UK to offer 100% Fairtrade coffee and 100% organic milk. Its bars are built in the UK and the installation process is managed internally. No franchises are offered. More information is available at [http://www.amtcoffee.co.uk]
The launch of a new sodium alternative has sparked a debate on the use of potassium chloride in bread.Volac’s sodium and sugar replacer Volactose Whey Permeate contains 2.6% potassium and is labelled a ’high-performance cross-category sodium and sugar replacer’, which can be used in a wide variety of better-for-you pro-ducts, including breads and sweet biscuits.However, while potassium chloride is a legal addition to bread, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is not a fan. Despite pushing bakers to seek alternatives to sodium chloride, a spokeswoman said: “The FSA does not encourage the use of sodium chloride (salt) substitutes/replacements based on potassium, because we are keen that people’s palates adjust to less salty foods. Using a replacement such as potassium chloride does not assist this taste adjustment.”She added: “For people with kidney problems and children who have immature kidneys, too much potassium in the diet can have health implications.”Stanley Cauvain, director and vice-president R&D activities at BakeTran, said most plant bakers would have tried potassium chloride in the last 10-15 years and recognised its limitations regarding a characteristic bitter potassium flavour. “This limits its level of addition and when sodium chloride levels are lower, then the flavour impact becomes more pronounced,” said Cauvain.Mark Neville, Volac’s marketing manager, dairy and lifestyle ingredients, said it had a number of customers in the UK, mainly in the bakery sector, using products from the Volactose range. “It is clear that there is a need for us to adjust palates to lower sodium products. The potassium level in Volactose Whey Permeate is already very small and thus unlikely to pose a threat to health.”He added that as more attention was paid to sodium content, not labelling sodium on front of pack had a positive impact. “Within ingredients labelling you can label whey permeate in a number of ways, including ’whey solids’ or ’milk solids’. Dairy-derived ingredients gene-rally have good connotations in relation to bakery products,” said Neville.
Sainsbury’s Fosse Park in-store bakery in Leicester is a shining example of how chief executive Justin King’s focus on increasing availability is producing results. Its success in this area is also one of the reasons why it took home the In-Store Bakery of the Year award at the Baking Industry Awards 2010.In-store bakery manager Nick Grumbley joined Sainsbury’s in 1988, starting as a trainee in Coventry, before moving up the ranks to become team leader, assistant bakery manager and subsequently bakery manager. He has been at the Fosse Park store for seven years. “We now have around 25 staff, a mixture of full- and part-time, which includes the bought-in bread and cake side,” says Grumbley.The bought-in side was previously headed up by the grocery managers, but now it all comes under the bakery department. “It’s more beneficial this way, as what happens within the bought-in side of things can affect sales of the in-store bakery products,” says Grumbley. “My shifts are varied, so I can monitor every part of the business, and see where we can improve,” he adds. “We’re always trying to raise the bar on performance on a daily basis, so that quality, cleanliness and freshness are always improving.”Move to multi-skillsThe bakery also has two apprentices, both of whom are due to attend a five-day training course in January for bakers at Sainsbury’s new bakery college in Wellingborough. Grumbley says his vision going forward is to multi-skill the colleagues who work within bought-in bread and cake, so they can carry out certain tasks within the in-store bakery as well. “The more multi-skilled people we’ve got, the easier and more enjoyable the job will be. People within the bought-in sector can be quite static within their role, putting out bread all day, but if you give them a different task or challenge, nine times out of 10, they’ll embrace it.”He describes his leadership style as fair, but says the business environment requires him to be quite demanding. He doesn’t pretend that it’s not hard work, but says the satisfaction you get when you see the goods your colleagues have produced, on display, makes it worthwhile. Mark Stirk, Sainsbury’s regional bakery coach, adds: “Nick is a great coach; he’s very keen to develop his colleagues, by up-skilling them and giving them the knowledge that not only encourages them to move forward, but excites them about what they’re doing.”With competition from other retailers, such as Asda and M&S, only a stone’s throw away, Grumbley says it’s essential that customers can find the products they want in his store. He admits that availability is an issue the supermarket struggled with in the past, but that CEO Justin King has been hot on improving. “When I first joined Fosse Park, the customers didn’t have the confidence in the bakery that they’d get the product they wanted at 7pm on a Friday evening,” says Grumbley. “Now, I’d like to think that they have.”In the run-up to the awards, the Fosse Park store managed to pass the retailer’s Mystery Availability Check an internal target 68 weeks in a row. The check is carried out in every Sainsbury’s store on a weekly basis. Around 7,000 items are chosen of which 55 lines are from the in-store bakery and mystery shoppers are sent to all stores to check the availability of around 100 items each.The bakery benchmarks it products against its rivals every four weeks, as well as comparing like-for-like sales with other Sainsbury’s stores in the region. As Fosse Park is the largest store in the area, if it isn’t matching another store’s sales, it will try to establish why and how, says Grumbley, by analysing, for example, how much of that particular product they are making and what the sell-out times are. Obviously, some lines sell better depending on the area the store is in for example, if it has a large student population but it’s good to be able to look at specific products and how it compared sales-wise, he says. “It’s motivating and helps drive improvement.”The in-store bakery sells approximately 190 lines. The range comprises around 80% scratch products, including rolls, breads, doughnuts, and 20% bake-off, including cookies, Danish and organic breads. Stirk says that all the new initiatives within Sainsbury’s in-store bakeries are for scratch production. “We’re using 100% British flour now, which is a great message to consumers, and we’ve really underpinned that with new Taste the Difference (TTD) Oats and Barley and Multiseed loaves, which are made from scratch and are selling really well,” he says. “We see the scratch side of the bakery production as a huge opportunity. It’s what our customers tell us they want, and it’s our point of difference against the other retailers.”Although he doesn’t make the decisions when it comes to what products the ISB offers, Grumbley says his team is encouraged to give feedback to Stirk, before, during and after a launch. We have regional bakery managers’ meetings as well, says Grumbley. “In addition to discussing how certain products are doing, we get some great best-practice advice from other managers.”New TTD bakery productsSainsbury’s relaunched its entire TTD range this autumn, which included a number of new bakery products. “Years ago, it was all about white sliced breads, but customers’ dietary habits have changed dramatically,” he explains. “Free-from, extra fibre, seeded and speciality breads are now much more popular.” Its new TTD Multiseed loaf is already one of its top-sellers, and its Stilton & Cranberry loaf is also very popular, he says. And it’s not just speciality breads that have been doing well, Grumbley says the bakery has seen cream cake sales go through the roof. Its patisserie counter has an ongoing three-for-two offer available; this, combined with better interaction with customers through a more hands-on approach, has driven sales, he says.The Fosse Park in-store bakery underwent a refit in November 2009, with the size of customer-facing area increased by 30-35%. Commenting on the patisserie counter, Grumbley says: “There’s now a lot more choice, we’ve got different flavours, it looks cleaner and fresher and is really appealing to the eye. We’ve just had a range review on the bought in creams as well, and we’ve got some new packaging and designs that are selling really well.” Its TTD cookie and muffin lines are also showing great sales growth, adds Stirk.Grumbley is rightly proud of his store’s win. Within the production area there is ’wall of fame’, featuring photos from the night and copies of the many congratulatory emails the bakery received. From October, the bakery put up special POS material, promoting its BIA win on the shelves. The patisserie counter features the award, housed in a special case, and the award certificate hangs above it. Grumbley says his team didn’t do anything out of the ordinary to try and win, it was based on consistent performance. “It was a fantastic lift for the store, and the result of a lot of hard work over the years,” he says. Despite the win, he adds, his attitude is not: ’We’ve won this now, job done’, but about maintaining the high standards achieved so far. Colleague development is still top of his agenda, alongside getting ready for Christmas, of course. What Sainsbury’s said “The team at Fosse Park were delighted when they were chosen as In-Store Bakery of the Year. Nick and his team are dedicated to consistently providing their customers with fantastic food. This, combined with anexcellent standard of customer service, meant they were worthy winners” Kim Brown, category manager for bakery, Sainsbury’s
It would make Homer Simpson proud: the doughnut has had a makeover. The fried sticky and sweet treat with a hole in the middle has been elevated into a gourmet treat.As with many baked sweet treats, the US has been setting the pace for the popularity surrounding doughnuts, which is now filtering through to the UK. Last year, an article in the New York Times boosted the image of doughnuts from being roadside snacks to veritable delicacies, citing creative examples such as pistachio, lavender, orange-infused and even elegant Earl Grey-flavoured doughnuts.A raft of upmarket doughnut outlets have emerged, aping the explosion of cupcake shops of recent years. One of the foremost, Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, Oregon, describes its doughnuts as “exotic” rather than “gourmet”. Its best-selling doughnut is a bacon maple bar, a rectangular doughnut with maple frosting and bacon on top; other flavours include round doughnuts covered with vanilla frosting and scattered with chocolate cereal, M&Ms or flavoured jellies. They are weird and wacky but hugely successful, selling by the thousands a day.”Our doughnuts stand out and really make people stare. We just experimented,” explains co-founder Kenneth Pogson, also known as Cat Daddy to his customers. Pogson learnt how to make doughnuts after a three-day course with BakeMark USA. “In America, doughnuts are almost an institution. You could go into a doughnut shop and it would look just like it did 30 years ago. We decided we wanted to breathe some life into doughnuts and do something crazy with them. Once consumers noticed our doughnuts, there was no stopping the trend; we just rolled with it and grabbed the opportunity.”The appeal of US-style decorated doughnuts is best illustrated by the rapid growth of Krispy Kreme in the UK. Since its launch in Harrods in 2003, establishing it as a leader in gourmet tastes, the company has experienced rapid growth, with 45 stores currently across the UK, a presence in over 200 Tesco outlets and plans to double its outlets within five years. With 100,000 customers being served every week and openings being met by queues forming around the block, just what is Krispy Kreme’s secret?”It’s all about having the right doughnut. Our customers can watch the doughnuts being made fresh behind the counter, right down from the dough to being glazed, so knowing what they are buying has been freshly-made makes it more special. It becomes more of an experience, and more of a treat and, in this current climate, customers really want to know that they are buying a treat that is worth it, and that they can trust,” explains Judith Denby, Krispy Kreme’s chief marketing officer.While Denby agrees that innovation is the key to capitalising on the doughnut, she stresses that tried-and-tested old favourites shouldn’t be neglected either. “At least half of our range of 16 varieties are the American classics: the original glaze, the sprinkles and the crullers. It’s really important for us to keep the American heritage of the doughnut. For a lot of people, their first experience of a Krispy Kreme doughnut will have been on holiday in America and, when they come to us, they want to relive that. It’s important to have a combination of old favourites and new friends. People do get upset if they cannot get the flavours they want we had to bring back our strawberries and cream doughnut, which was meant to be for one summer only, because customers got so disappointed when it went.”While old classics are essential, Denby says new seasonal flavours are also big-sellers and recommends using the seasons as a great way to continue offering customers variety. “This summer, we have coconut ice and mango and passion cheesecake. We’ve used summer desserts as our inspiration, and made the doughnuts really colourful.”Denby advises smaller craft bakeries to consider offering a customisation option, so that customers can have personalised doughnuts. Krispy Kreme offers customised doughnuts for charities and corporate clients, for example.”A doughnut is a treat, and the more opportunities you can create to offer people those treats is a good way to open you up to more business,” she says. “We did a ’Glamour’ glaze doughnut, to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Glamour magazine; they were super-glossy doughnuts in lip gloss shades and hugely successful. Smaller bakeries could offer doughnuts for weddings, parties, events customers love having treats tailored to them.”According to CSM United Kingdom, which sponsored National Doughnut Week earlier this year, the UK doughnut market is worth £72.3m, with a year-on-year increase of £3m. Meanwhile, data from Kantar Worldpanel, which tracks supermarket sales, reveals the volume of doughnuts in supermarket in-store bakeries has soared, with a 13.5% year on year rise and over 73 million packs sold in ISBs.”This growth is being fuelled mainly by shoppers buying doughnuts more often and new shoppers coming into the category,” says Vandemoortele marketing manager Chelsea Pogson. “Innovation in ISB doughnuts continues with an increased range of sugar-iced rings on offer as opposed to fat coated doughnuts. The sugar-iced doughnuts deliver a more intense flavour and have a smooth mouthfeel, making them a more indulgent eat.”So what can craft bakers do to make the most of the existing demand in a growth market, and continue to build upon it?The answer could be to look to the US for inspiration in order to create adventurous doughnuts with a twist. “Our colleagues in the USA report that bakers are developing more extreme doughnut menus, including raised yeast doughnuts with maple frosting and bacon on top and fried doughnuts with banana chunks, peanut butter and chocolate glaze. So bakers here in the UK might want to consider more complex doughnut flavour combinations,” says Lisa Boswell, of CSM UK. “This approach takes doughnuts into another dimension and gives a modern twist to an established product, with options for premium-priced decorated doughnuts, doughnuts as individual celebration cakes and more creative doughnut displays to attract more impulse purchasing.”Ingredients supplier Macphie says the most important way bakers can innovate with doughnuts is by enhancing their visual appeal. Machpie’s newest product range, i-zings, offers bold colours for icings and glazes made from natural ingredients. “Looking at the catwalks, the fashion world has gone colour crazy,” says Karen Scott, Macphie communications manager. “Now bakers can capitalise on this trend too. Bakers can make a real statement and brighten up their window displays this summer. The trick is to get creative.”According to Scott, time and money spent investing in the doughnuts’ decorative appeal is very worthwhile. “Bright colours, fillings and finishings really entice consumers. It costs just 4p to ice a doughnut, but bakers can command a real premium, so it’s an easy way to capitalise on this trend.”Scott continues: “Dual flavour combinations is a big trend too. For example, for a toffee apple doughnut, you could have toffee icing with Bramley apple injected into the doughnuts, or raspberry and coconut, or banana and custard doughnut.” Alternative treats Churros, crullers, fritters and beignets also fall into the gourmet doughnut category of fried, sweet pastries, proving the doughnut to be prevalent in world cuisine. Churros, a typical Spanish delicacy, consists of long doughy fingers piped from a star-shaped nozzle then fried, before being rolled in sugar and cinnamon and dipped in thick hot chocolate to serve. Crullers, which are German in origin, are more like doughnut cakes, with fried dough twisted into a round. American apple fritters fry the fruit along with the batter frying elderflower in sweet batter is an elegant twist to create elderflower fritters while beignets are fried choux pastries with fruit fillings. Fresh flavours Lacking in gourmet inspiration? American bakery menus provide plenty of ideas for flavour combinations. Doughnut Plant in New York offers crême brulée, lavender flower, banana and pecan and peanut butter glazed cupcakes. Babycakes, New York’s vegan bakery, reportedly sells out of its daily stock of doughnuts by midday; favourites include lemon coconut and cinnamon sugar. The world-renowned Balthazar serves pistachio doughnuts while red velvet doughnuts go down a storm at the Peter Pan Bakery.
Thorntons, the high street chocolatier, has marked its centenary year with record sales figures – but posted a loss of £1.1m after it was hit by £5.4m in impairment charges, such as high rents.Revenues increased by 1.7% to £218.3m in the year to 25 June after strong sales through supermarkets and other commercial channels offset an 8.2% drop in sales via its own stores.Pre-tax profits before exceptional items dropped to £4.3m from £6.9m.Commercial sales jumped 26% to £78.8m in the full year, as Thorntons continued to develop distribution deals with supermarkets, while it took its share of the chocolate box market to around 34%.The market share of Thorntons branded products increased by 7.7% , up from 7.4% in 2010.The chain, which plans to close up to 180 stores over the next three years as it grows sales through the internet and other retailers, is working on revitalising the brand by creating a “theatre of the senses” in its stores, and will look to rely less on seasonal events.John von Spreckelsen, Thorntons’ chairrman, said: “We anticipate that the weakness in footfall and consumer sentiment experienced through our own store and franchise channels during the first half of 2011 will continue at least into 2012. We are, however, looking forward to another strong year of growth in our commercial channel”.>> Thorntons plays it cool with bakery and desserts
Chocolate brownies have claimed the top spot in a survey, by Dawn Foods, to discover the nation’s favourite chocolate bakery treat.Following on from its research into the nation’s signature treat, during British Food Fortnight, Dawn carried out a further poll during National Chocolate Week (10-16 October 2011).The chocolate brownie took 28.6% of the votes, with the chocolate chip cookie achieving 19%, the double chocolate muffin 14.3%, and chocolate cake taking 14.3% of the votes.Dawn Foods marketing manager Jacqui Passmore commented: “Chocolate Week was the perfect time to quiz people on their favourite chocolate bakery treats and we were unsure which product would emerge victorious. “Chocolate brownies are, for many people, a rich comfort food that, along with a cup of tea or coffee, can satisfy any chocolate cravings. This result is the perfect example of how its popularity has grown in recent years.”>>Scones voted UK signature treat