A straw poll of exhibitors’ views at this year’s Food & Bake yielded a mixed response, ranging from the exasperated (“Realistically, I think this show is dead”) to the ecstatic (“It is the best show I’ve had in 20 years”). With the number of exhibitors weighted towards equipment companies, some ingredients suppliers grumbled over the paucity of food stands on show, others thought that morning quality of attendance was ’fantastic’. Machinery suppliers meanwhile gleefully racked up the sales leads. Although 70% of exhibitors have rebooked for 2008, according to the show’s organiser, a view commonly expressed was a feeling that the Food & Bake format needed refreshing.Escher MixersStephen Steadman, who heads up Escher Mixers in the UK, said his stand had received a great deal of interest. “It has been very much a purchasing show, where people have come to buy a machine and to do a deal,” he said.But at the same time he believed the lack of “live theatre” and food exhibitors dissuaded many craft bakers from attending. “I would also question whether four days is the right length for a show of this size,” he added. “It needs a new identity and a new lease of life.” The cost of exhibiting for smaller businesses had proved prohibitive for many companies, he thought. “The costs have spiralled over the last four to six years and it’s certainly not encouraging the smaller companies to exhibit either their products or their machinery,” he said. Aga FoodserviceOn the other hand, Aga Foodservice, which brought its bakery equipment companies under one umbrella, had a “hugely successful” exhibition and “the best show I’ve had in 20 years”, said Mono’s sales director Martin Jones.Another Aga company at the show was Williams Refrigeration, which supplies equipment to craft bakers, sandwich shops, supermarkets and foodservice outlets. It said HACCP food safety regulations, introduced in January this year, have played a key factor in the development of its equipment launched at the show. New products included a refrigerated air well with a blown air curtain for keeping ingredients fresh for longer. Marketing manager Nicola Franklin said that energy efficiency was also playing an increasing role in bakers’ choice of equipment. Auto-Bake“Understanding energy conservation is much more focused in Europe than in some other markets, which is wonderful as we make highly efficient systems in terms of energy,” concurred Amanda Hick, marketing director of Auto-Bake, which designs and manufactures Serpentine baking systems in Australia and has been exporting to the UK for five years.“Serpentine ovens are much more efficient than tunnel ovens, which are wasteful of heat,” she continued. “Bakers are facing a lot of cost pressures and they are looking for a sophisticated response to that, so we are reflecting true concerns in the market.”Birmingham-based Auto-Bake says it has 20 installations in medium to large bakeries and is looking to install three to four large industrial lines a year. MuntonsAndy James, marketing manager for malt supplier Muntons, said it was promoting awareness of the uses of malt in breads and confectionery.“It can add life and variety to bakery products,” he said. “It gives the consumer more choice and there are health benefits as well.” Muntons supplies liquid malt extracts, which can be used in doughs as a flavour enhancer, malt flours, textured products such as kibbled malted wheat, whole malt flakes, as well as dried products for flavouring. “Breads with interesting bits seem to be gaining in popularity with consumers – we have those interesting bits,” said Mr James.Commenting on this year’s Food & Bake, sales and marketing director Andrew Suett added that the quality of attendees to the show was good, but a dedicated ingredients and retail bakery products area was lacking. “What we are missing in the UK is a general food industry exhibition whereby you get the ingredients and finished products together,” he said. “Big players like Nestlé won’t bother coming to Food & Bake at the moment because it is so specific to baking.”Food DesignColin Hunter, MD of Harrogate-based ingredients supplier Food Design, similarly bemoaned the dwindling number of ingredients and baked product exhibitors at Food & Bake. “Realistically, I think this show is dead,” he said. “If you’re coming for equipment manufacturers then you’re not interested in us.”Meanwhile, he revealed that a new £500,000 investment would see the company double capacity by September, up to 1,600 tonnes, with that rising to 3,000 tonnes next year as the company racks up 25-30% growth. Buderim GingerAustralian firm Buderim Ginger echoed Food Design’s view. “Some of our biggest customers have no intention of turning up,” said general manager Paul Bialkowski. “Bakers are looking for inspiration and in previous years we would be approached by a lot of NPD people. But there are fewer ingredients companies here and I find that disappointing.”The company has also introduced macadamia nuts into its range this year. “It’s a new ingredient for the baking industry – it has a crunchiness that other nuts don’t have, and could enable the baker to innovate.”Community FoodsCommunity Foods was showcasing innovative products such as raisins in sour cherry, blueberry and raspberry flavours. “We’re here because we’re not very well known in the baking world,” said Paul Smith, a trader with the first-time exhibitor, which stocks a broad range of ingredients including fruits, nuts, seeds, grains and pulses – 40% of which are organic.“If you make blueberry muffins and you don’t want to pay, for example, £8,000 per tonne for dried blueberries, you might include a mix of the blueberry-infused raisins, which we sell for between £2-3,000.” HIGHLIGHTS FROM FOOD & DRINK EXPOGREENHALGH’SA number of finished bakery product manufacturers chose to exhibit at Food and Drink Expo instead of Food & Bake. Among them was the family-run craft bakery Greenhalgh’s, which has 42 retail shops in the north west of England. Wholesale sales manager Gary Thew revealed that Greenhalgh’s was planning to open another three or four more shops over the coming year.Its presence at Food & Drink aimed to increase wholesale turnover, meet potential customers and showcase its range of products, he said. “Food & Drink is much busier than Food & Bake, which we did six years ago, and was very quiet,” he said. “We exhibited at Food & Drink two years ago and it was very busy so we decided to do the same again this year.”The firm has a growing national wholesale operation, export business and supplies the major retailers. Its new range of slices and thaw-and-serve Danish pastries were drawing big interest, added Mr Thew.PIEMINISTERTwo-year-old Pieminister has one Bristol shop and a stall in Borough Market, London, as well as selling nationally to delis, farm shops, pubs, and food halls such as Harvey Nichols. It won best savoury bakery product for its Porky Pie at the Food & Drink Expo Ideas to Dine For competition. The winning pie used free-range pork, organic vegetables and Thatchers Cider from the West Country. “I think the judges liked the fact that we used all local, seasonal ingredients, and it tastes good,” said sales manager Chris Busk.The company sells eight products in its core range plus seasonal specials. It now also offers mash, gravy and peas to complement the pies in its outlets and through its wholesale customers. Mr Busk said Pieminister plans to open more branded outlets in the future. MIRS CRIMBLE’S“We are not Mr Kippling – there is something different about our products,” said director Jeremy Woods of Stiletto Foods, whose main brand is Mrs Crimble’s. There is a big market for tasty, wholesome products at an affordable price, he added. Its range of wheat-free and dairy-free biscuits, coconut macaroons, wheat-free and egg-free cakes, and products suitable for vegans are catching on, with 10 products launched last year, said Mr Woods.The majority of its business is through farm shops, delicatessens, village shops and convenience outlets, though the brand is now being stocked by the major multiples, he said.“We are product developers as well as a brand owner,” explained Mr Woods. “We are a relatively small operation but we’re growing very rapidly because we make good products, present them well and have a genuine point of difference.”BARTON & WHITE ARTISAN BAKERS AND PATISSIERS“We are building our customer base,” said Ken Sparks, sales manager. “We have found there to be a tremendous amount of interest in us, because we make unusual, speciality bread.”The 18-month old Leicestershire-based bakery employs 10 people and supplies restaurant chains and large event organisers. All breads are delivered ambient, while its chilled cakes and desserts are also supplied frozen.He added that the event had proved invaluable for exposing the fledgling firm to new areas of the marketplace. “We have found different parts of the market that we were either looking for or didn’t know existed, such as the various distribution systems that are available to us,” he said.EDWARD MOON PROPER PIESAnother firm hoping to expand its distribution was Edward Moon Proper Pies. Andrew Berisford in sales and marketing said it would also be “marketing quite heavily” its pork pies, which won four Golds and three Silvers at the Prize Pies Challenge competition held at Foodex Meatex.The company started in 1989 hand-making pies and supplies nationwide predominantly to pub and restaurant groups. “We have been successfully introduced to a number of wholesalers – the key thing is to establish distribution,” said Mr Berisford.
Craft bakers are looking at ways to cut overheads after the Low Pay Commission confirmed the minimum wage will rise again in October. A 30p an hour rise in the minimum wage, which comes into force in October, will take it up from £5.05 an hour to £5.35 for workers over 21, with a 20p an hour rise to £4.45 for staff aged 18-21.National Association of Master Bakers (NA) senior executive Gill Brooks-Lonican said the NA is getting a number of calls from members to discuss making redundancies to mitigate the costs of paying higher wages. She said the rises in minimum wage were making low-turnover shops unviable. Staff in pay bands above the miniumum wage want similar increases. However, turnover does not rise by the same amount. “If you reduce staff, the remaining staff have to do more work and then one of them will go off for stress. By the time the money saved in wages by having fewer staff is recouped, you might be out of business.”Rising wages also make it harder for employers to take on staff who claim Jobseekers Allowance and work under 16 hours a week, as it can take them over the maximum earnings threshold, she said. Scottish Association of Master Bakers chief executive Kirk Hunter commented: “It is a substantial increase. We don’t believe it is justifiable, particularly on top of other increases craft bakers are facing, such as energy costs.”Greenhalgh’s bakery production manager David Smart said: “This minimum wage rise equates to a 5.9% increase, and you can’t recoup that through price rises. It has a destabilising effect financially.” The Low Pay Commission’s report does offer some hope to bakers. It says the phase in which the Commission is committed to increases in the minimum wage above average earnings increase is over.
For producing organic rustic bread, Fermex International (Worcester, Worcestershire) offers Crème de Levain, a patented live, liquid sourdough, with standardised, high levels of acidifying bacteria and aromatic yeasts in packs of five litres and 1,000-litre tanks.
The management behind fledgling bakery retail chain Gail’s plunged £300,000 into its newest store in upmarket West London. It took pains over the tiniest detail, from bread art screen-printed on the walls, to sourcing framed images of bygone baking competitions.Within a few days of opening, two soon-to-be regular interlopers had already tagged on to the place: an old lady with an inexhaustible (and exhausting) flow of one-way stream-of-consciousness chatter, plus one inveterate boozer, who ends every hard day’s drinking with a loaf. This just goes to show, no matter how much attention to detail you take in presenting the place immaculately, you cannot choose your customers.It also proves that good bread doesn’t discriminate in its appeal (and that it’s the perfect foodstuff for soaking up a skinful). In choosing Portobello Rd, West London, Gail’s has pitched its tent amidst a number of screamingly fashionable bakeries, including the American-style celebrity magnet, Hummingbird Bakery, and the dazzlingly minimalist and modern bakery-cum-restaurant, Ottolenghi. But Gail’s wants to be seen as the ’neighbourhood bakery’. “It’s a very residential, friendly type of model, and we could have been sitting in Islington today,” says MD Ran Avidan.With just two links, it’s premature to call Gail’s a chain. But this belies the master plan, which would see the company “opening as many shops as we can, as fast as we can, as long as we can stick to what we believe in – everything handmade, without any short cuts,” says Avidan.Gail’s is the retail spin-off of north London’s The Bread Factory. The wholesale bakery, of which Avidan is MD, produces some of the finest breads in the capital and was profiled in British Baker’s Speciality Breads supplement, 2006. The first Gail’s branded outlet opened in a small unit on Hampstead High St in 2005.The latest, more spacious, end-of-row site was the former home of a locally cherished art gallery. “It’s a good location, you can’t miss it,” says Israeli-born Avidan. “It was quite an iconic part of the neighbourhood. All the locals have been waiting to see what was going to be done with it.” It took three months to source the right location and negotiate a deal to acquire the lease, and another three months from taking possession to opening the store.An architect was drafted in to put the management’s vision in place, taking six weeks to fit and furbish the shop. “We had a good idea of what we wanted to achieve with the brand, including the look and feel, the materials used, the openness,” says Avidan. This is best expressed by the centrepiece glass demonstration area.”It looks simple and clean but the design was fairly complicated. Putting together those sheets of glass, which have no brackets, would have been much cheaper and easier if we’d used a frame. But we wanted it to appear almost as if it were hanging in the air. We wanted it to be exposed and open to show that we’re not hiding anything – so people can see what ingredients we use and that we make things on-site.” The shop has a second, larger, preparation area downstairs.At present, breads are delivered in from The Bread Factory. “If we had the space it would be wonderful to bake the bread here too, because people are fascinated by how bread is made,” says Avidan. Everything else, from the pains au chocolat, Danish pastries, brioches, quiches, sausage rolls, sandwiches – even the roasted vegetables for sandwich fillings – are made on-site.The array of breads are neatly lined up along the back wall on a chunky stained oak shelf. “The materials we used were very important, just like the ingredients we use for the products,” he says. This meant liberal use of wood, concrete, steel and glass, spurning plastics, perspex and PVC. Elevated slate boards are fashioned to make novel cake display stands. “Our presentation is a very important piece of the whole puzzle of who we are. We have invested so much in our products – it has been a long process of sourcing the right ingredients – that we want them to be presented in the right way.”The window displays were still in development when British Baker visited, but sweet products and pastry are set to take prominence. “This window should be something you look at and think ’Whoa, that’s what I want, that’s amazing’,” says Avidan.Unlike other chains, each Gail’s store will be unique and different from the one before, he says. “We’re trying to match them to the location and neighbourhoods. That’s as much to do with the styling of the shop as the product range.”The character comes from a series of neat touches, such as a shelf full of bakery books that are available to purchase, and a gallery of pictures taken at an early 1900s Minnesota bread-baking competition, which adorn the exposed brick walls. Unearthed by the firm’s graphic designer, these also furnish the company’s marketing materials.There is also the ’Breadheads Club’ leaflets, where people can write down what they love – or indeed, don’t love – about Gail’s. Customers fill out a VIB (Very Important Breadheads) card and are, in turn, invited to parties, special events and tastings.Graphic illustrations of the core breads were painstakingly screen-printed by a fine artist onto another wall, along with brief descriptions of each, in a process that took 48 hours. “We needed an area to communicate that we’re a bread brand and why the breads are so special, from the ingredients to the stories behind them,” explains King.”We could have got vinyls made and whacked them up in 10 minutes, but we wanted it to have that handmade, artisan feel. When we first started talking about creating a bread brand on the high street, we had a creative brief of using all the elements that were important to us – values like ’traditional’, ’old-fashioned’ and ’fun’.”Of course, ripping down a poster would be easier when a bread falls out of fashion. But Avidan says: “We do change the breads we have here, but we chose the iconic breads that we have most of the time. Sometimes you’ll come in and there won’t be a blue cheese campagne, but you’ll still be able to educate yourself and find out what it is, and if you ask for it, we can bring it in the next day, or the following day for breads that take 48 hours, such as the French wholemeal sourdough.”So what caused the biggest headaches when fitting out the place? “There were structural issues. We wanted to use concrete floors, as we thought it was right for us, the brand and the neighbourhood, but it was very difficult to find a material that would not be too heavy. And just finding the right locations is a problem. I looked at 200 leaflets and visited 40, and that was just to find one place.”The need to train staff from scratch – with a whole week devoted just to instilling the brand values – might prove another stumbling block to rapid roll-out. “Even the guacamole is handmade here,” says Avidan. “To do things this way, you can’t open 20 shops a year.” A third store is planned before the end of 2007.Gail’s hopes that longer-than-typical opening times for a bakery – at 7am-9pm Monday-Friday, and 8am-9pm Saturday-Sunday – will help the store become a bread ’destination’ in an area of widespread competition. “We like competition,” states Avidan. “In Hampstead, there is Paul opposite us and Maison Blanc two shops to the left. But there is a lot of room for good bread concepts in London.”The local competition has proved a boon. “It’s amazing how many locals have come to us and said, ’This is what the neighbourhood needed – a real handmade bakery’.” n—-=== Vital statistics ===Cost: £300,000, half of it self-financed and half through loansTotal outlets: two, but with ambitions to become a chainLocations: Wholesale bakery The Bread Factory, Hendon, North London; shops in Hampstead and Portobello RdCustomer profile: a social mix of local people with a neighbourhood feelProjected turnover for new shop: over £1 millionProducts: The emphasis is on the breads, with 25 varieties offered daily, with regular changes; biscuits; patisserie; tarts; sandwiches; soups; brownies and cakes. Recent innovations include organic spelt scones—-=== The Gail’s brief ===The Gail’s concept is a contemporary take on an old-fashioned bakery shop. The ambition was to bake and sell the best bread and other baked products you can find in the UK. Because a lot of emphasis is placed on the ingredients used, similar care needed to be put into sourcing the right materials to build its second shop in West London. Only natural materials such as glass, stone, wood and metal – as opposed the plastic, Formica and Perspex – should be used.Another element in the brief was transparency. Gail’s wanted to reinforce that it is a very honest brand, so people should see how it makes things and what goes into its products. The shop needed to reflect the ethos of its products – artisan, homemade and eclectic – without being too slick….and the resultsThe location on Portobello Rd took six months to find, lease and refit. It houses 1,000sq ft on each floor, with 400sq ft given to the downstairs production area. Sally Mackereth from Wells Mackereth Architects undertook the fitting, which included a totally transparent glass bakery in the middle of the shop, measuring 180sq ft. This repeats the founding Hampstead store’s feature. It includes an Ital Forni pizza oven and regular oven plus fridge and work surfaces.Extra room is given to seating, with 20 covers, plus additional seating outside.Tables and counters are made from stained solid oak. On the back counter sits an Italian Gaggia coffee machine, serving Fairtrade blends, alongside a juicer for freshly squeezing juices, a toaster, a slicer and a fridge. The walls feature screen-printed images of the breads and antique images of a bygone bread competition.
Value sales of organic bread and bakery products dropped by 18.2% last year, as high prices due to soaring wheat costs deterred cost-conscious shoppers.According to the Soil Association’s Organic Market Report 2009, which is based on TNS Worldpanel data, sales of organic bread fell by 13.1%. “Organic shoppers, like all consumers, have clearly been tightening their belts – shopping less often, buying fewer premium products and prepared foods and switching to lower-cost retailers,” said Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association.Overall, the report said that sales of organic bakery goods in the multiples were worth £113m last year. Category winners included Asda and the Co-op, which saw organic bakery sales rise by 12% and 47%, respectively.Lindsay Kilifin, marketing manager for The Village Bakery, said the recessionary climate had made trading difficult, although its organic brand continued to hold its own. “Our greatest area of decline has been in independent retailers, with stockists clearly finding life on the high street increasingly difficult,” she said.
Over $4m has been raised so far from the sale of GreenPalm certificates, since the start of the scheme 18 months ago, and there are plans for a European roll-out.The $4m figure equates to the sale of 460,000 certificates, said Bob Norman, general manager of Book&Claim, which operates the Green-Palm certificate trading platform, endorsed by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). This allows manufacturers and retailers to support sustainable palm oil production. “That $4m is the actual payment that goes back to sustainable palm oil producers,” said Norman, at the Baking Industry Exhibition earlier this week. He told BB that the organisation is beginning to see interest from mainland Europe and plans to expand the GreenPalm scheme out across the continent soon.The scheme is run by fats supplier AAK and certificates can be purchased for every tonne of palm oil used by a company. This premium is then paid to farmers producing an equivalent amount of sustainable palm oil. Certificates cost around $8, while a tonne of palm oil is around $650. “A dollar from every certificate sold also goes to the RSPO,” explained Norman.The scheme has attracted interest from a number of major brands. For example, in February this year, Burton’s Foods announced it was the first UK sweet biscuit manufacturer to acquire GreenPalm certificates for 100% of its palm oil usage.
In any family business, the occasional rift is bound to occur. With such close-knit units, familiarity can sometimes breed contempt.But if you are going to have a feud, then at least do it properly! In Spain, control of 100-year-old Spanish biscuit firm Galletas Gullón, has just been wrested back by matriarch María Teresa Rodríguez from her three sons and two brothers. Having found herself locked out of company HQ, mama promptly called a board meeting in a Mercedes in the company car park. The meeting, convened with people allegedly controlling an 80% shareholding in the firm, saw Rodríguez appointed as sole administrator. But as the sons and brothers have refused to recognise the validity of the meeting, this particular dynastic saga could run and run.
The value of retail sales in December 2011 were up 6.2% on December 2010, with volumes up 2.6% for the same comparable period, according to the Office for National Statistics.Volumes were predominantly driven by automotive fuel, and textile, clothing and footwear stores – up 11.2% and 6.3% respectively. This growth was offset by household good stores and other stores, which saw volumes fall 3.6% and 1.9% respectively.The proportion of annual retail spend in both the food and non-food sectors in December 2011 was higher than at any other time of the year. However, spend in the non-food was higher than in the food sector – 12.1% and 9.9% respectively.