Easter offers bakers the opportunity to showcase new products, extend product ranges and create added-value goods to tempt high street customers, says Renshaw (Merseyside).“Bakers looking to maximise profits at Easter should consider three specific product areas – traditional Easter fare, modern twists on old favourites and seasonal themes to enhance existing product ranges,” says David Grieve, sales and marketing manager.The simnel cake is probably the most traditional Easter confectionery, but individual confectionery products have also increased in popularity due to changing family lifestyles and food-on-the-go trends. Renshaw says these influences will shape buying patterns for Easter.Loaf cakes sliced into individual portions make the ideal food on the go, as do muffins.They are easy to wrap, easy for customers to carry without damaging and easy to eat, says the company..
n A £4.4m Skills Academy will open in April, said food and drink sector skills council Improve. It has been working with employers, including Warburtons and RHM, on the academy, which is expected to serve over 28,000 people in its first four years. The academy will co-ordinate existing training programmes through approved Academy Training Centres, of which there are five at the moment. Another 35, including Thomas Danby in Leeds, are expected to be approved within three years.n Retailers including Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Co-op pledged last week to remove trans-fats from their bakery products. Some retailers have already stated they were moving away from trans-fats, but this time they made the pledge under the banner of the British Retail Consortium.n Northern Ireland sandwich manufacturer, The Bite Group, is opening an 18,000sq ft facility in Enniskillen, costing £2.5m.n Greggs’ shop in Festival Place, Basingstoke, has won two awards in an annual internal awards ceremony, for South East Shop of the Year and Best Sandwich Core Growth. The news was announced during Greggs’ annual shop managers’ conference in London.n Délifrance’s sandwich World Cup is to be held in Paris on March 7. Reading-based chef Adrian Brown will be representing the UK with his sirloin steak-based ’Sunday Best’ sandwich, which won first prize at the national leg of the International Sandwich Challenge. Brown will go head to head with 11 international chefs at the Paris Palais des Congrès.
Yorkshire-based bakery Ainsleys has relaunched its well-known Rhubarb Pie in response to a resurgence in demand for one of the region’s most popular desserts.The Leeds bakery is relaunching the pie with its original filling recipe, first introduced by the founder of the company in the 1950s. However, the traditional filling will now be encased in a luxurious deep-fill pastry case, says the firm, designed to enhance the natural flavours of the rhubarb and offer a satisfying dessert for the consumer.Third-generation family member James Ainsley, head of sales and marketing at the bakery, comments: “It is a true pleasure to welcome back to our shelves the famous Ainsleys Rhubarb Pie. By reverting back to our original recipe, we are offering consumers a taste of tradition, insisting on the use of fresh, local rhubarb, so as not to compromise on taste or quality.”The rhubarb season traditionally runs from April to September, but it can be force-grown, accounting for its availability earlier in the year.Ainsleys, which has 31 stores operating across Yorkshire, is sourcing its rhubarb from one of the UK’s largest rhubarb producers, Oldroyd’s Farm in Wakefield, which is listed as a Rick Stein Food Hero producer. The Oldroyd family has been farming rhubarb for five generations and has seen a bumper crop this year.”The recent resurgence in demand for rhubarb can be attributed to its beneficial health properties, appealing to health-conscious consumers as well as those who have a hunger for traditional Yorkshire food,” adds Ainsley. “Our alliance with Oldroyd’s ensures our pies exceed expectation.”
Starbucks Coffee Company and food travel experts SSP have agreed a deal which will see SSP open more than 150 Starbucks stores in Europe over the next three years. The outlets will be established in “prime travel locations”, and SSP hopes to open the first ones within London train stations by the end of this year. It already has three Starbucks units in UK airports.SSP has acquired licensing rights to the Starbucks brand across key European travel markets, covering both railway and airport locations including the UK, France and Germany. An SSP spokeswoman said the company plans to “open the first ones in UK train stations, probably in London, by the end of the calendar year”.
Food Partners has developed a new sandwich brand – Taste4life – focused on health and sophistication. The range will include more than 50 sandwiches and related products and has been launched in outlets including coffee shops and catering suppliers.”Consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their tastes and it is enjoyment and health that are driving the sandwich market most,” said Liz Earl, development director for Food Partners. Baguettes, rolls, croissants, paninis and salads are all included in the range, which contains no GM ingredients.[http://www.foodpartners.co.uk]
Winner Leanne TangCake DecoratorTerry Tang Designer CakesWavertree, LiverpoolShowgirls were the theme of Tang’s Las Vegas cake, which included intricately painted eyeshadow and lashes on the girls’ faces, as well as poker chips and playing cards.Detail is important to Tang, who says she takes great care to create authenticity in her preferred medium of sugarpaste. The judges commended her exceptional modelling skills and described her as possessing “a natural talent and an excellent eye for detail”.The shop produces an average of 12 wedding and 40 celebration cakes a week, offering a range of flavours, including banoffee, and all disciplines. Tang says she is equally happy watching a customer choose a cake from one of the 200 on display, or from a choice of 600 photographs.Finalist Charlotte FeveCake Decorator/ChocolatierThe Cake RoomHessle, East YorkshireA qualified baker and cake decorator, Feve joined The Cake Room when it opened a year ago. Now her team of three produces around 100 cakes a week – a combination of bespoke wedding and celebration cakes plus simpler ’counter’ cakes, which can be customised. Feve also moulds chocolates and teaches at Hull Technical College.”I like to give clients a perfect product,” she says. “We discuss portions, shapes and personal interests, then I show them drawings, photographs and dummy cakes to develop the design.”Feve uses all techniques on her creations, but says she increasingly uses bas relief work to create a 2D effect. Her Las Vegas cake showcased her painting ability and featured cards and a roulette wheel, a model Elvis and a desert scene.Finalist Amelia NuttingCake Designer, Shuga BudzTettenhall, WolverhamptonSet for art college, Nutting spent last summer helping mum Debbie in her new shop, and loved it so much she stayed! Now training for her City & Guilds in both Sugarcraft and Teaching, her ambitions include writing a book.At just 18, it’s hardly surprising Nutting has a reputation for designing fun, modern, quirky cakes tailored to the individual. She says she enjoys creating “mad” ideas and cites modelling, piping and use of colours as her strong points.Her Las Vegas cake showed her pastillage skills. She took her inspiration from the name, showing a different theme for each letter – including the Ace of Clubs and a dollar sign, as well as modelled shoes (glamour) and glittering red feathers (showgirls)
Vandemoortele is to receive a E75m (£68m) investment from Belgian private equity firm Gimv. The additional share capital will allow the firm to continue its growth in the bakery and lipids market, following its decision in January to sell off its soya foods division, Alpro.The Gimv-XL fund is a recent initiative of Gimv, aimed at growing companies in Flanders – an area of Belgium. “This has been a long-mooted activity,” Adrian Roberts, UK commercial director at Vandemoortele, told British Baker.”The company’s intention has always been to expand its share capital. Gimv is specifically focused on growth companies, and Vandemoortele is a fast-growing food company, so it was a perfect fit.”The Belgian group’s bakery and lipids divisions currently make up around 80% of its turnover and Roberts said the additional share capital will allow the firm to continue with its expansion plans.”Gimv has seen the actions we’ve taken recently in the bakery sector, acquiring the French bakery business Panavi, and their involvement underlines the fact they agree with our strategy,” said Roberts.”The soya disposal is a strategic decision – we’ve grown it successfully, and we can now see it would be better realised by a larger organisation. At the same time, we’ve clearly marked out the bakery and lipids sectors as two areas where we have substantial growth opportunities, and we want to focus on those,” he said.”The acquisition of Panavi in France is another large step in implementing our strategy and we have further substantial growth ambitions in the bakery sector.”The integration of Panavi has been going very well, he added. “It is achieving all the objectives that we’ve set and we’re confident it will continue to do so.”
Four more café chains have agreed to work with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to promote healthier eating through their shops.Camden Food Co, John Lewis Partnership Cafés, Sainsbury’s Cafés and Upper Crust have followed big chains such as Greggs and Starbucks in announcing various healthy eating commitments in conjunction with the FSA.Initiatives focus on reducing salt and saturated fat, providing more nutritional information and promoting healthier options on menus. Upper Crust, which is owned by travel food retail operator SSP and has over 60 shops in railway stations and airports, plans to develop a programme of recipe amendments on items that do not meet the FSA salt targets or which earn ‘red’ traffic lights by 2010. The company will also investigate calorie-content labelling and better nutritional labelling.Sainsbury’s, which operates 242 cafés, plans to cut saturated fat by 18%, by changing the cooking oil it uses in its cafés, and will trial milk with a 1% fat content rather than semi-skimmed.All four café chains will regularly report to the FSA on the progress they are making with their initiatives.
A Welsh correspondent has sent us a menu in which the dishes are described in Welsh. We have many good friends in the Principality, but they have to condescend to write in English when they communicate with us. Passing the City Temple the other day, we observed an announcement in strange characters, but fortunately, the purposes of the meeting to which it referred was distinct enough to convey that it was a gathering of Welshmen in London. An announcement in a language of which one does not know a single word is like being before a locked door, to which one does not and never can possess a key. Even in the ordinary affairs of life, as represented by a dinner menu, our ignorance is appalling. Just fancy if any hospitable Welshman offered you a little Aderyn Dof Hynod a Mangig Manochyn, you would not know whether to use a spoon or fork.
Bread manufacturer Giles Foods has completed the first phase of a multi-million-pound expansion programme at its Pain Artisan bakery in Milton Keynes.The firm, which manufactures speciality breads, garlic bread, Danish pastries and sweet tarts, has doubled the size of its bakery and invested £3.5m in new plant and equipment. A new ‘technologically advanced’ three-deck tunnel oven has been installed – the first of its kind in the UK, according to the firm.The site has been increased by 45,000sq ft, and a new adjoining cold store and upgraded loading and distribution facilities are scheduled for spring next year.Sales and marketing director David Marx said the new oven has enabled the firm to achieve “a massive increase in product quality”, allowing it to, for example, control the thickness of the crust.“Sandwich manufacturers are now coming to us and asking if we can produce a ciabatta-style product with a thinner top crust and a heavier sole crust and we are able to say ‘no problem’,” said Marx.The investment has also enabled the firm to cut its input costs, reduce its carbon footprint and achieve increased efficiency across the business.Marx added that the company is soon to begin a substantial new product development programme, with reformulated and new frozen and chilled products scheduled to hit the market in spring and summer next year.>>Giles Foods’ investment aims to double turnover