Weather hits logistics firm

first_imgLogistics company Christian Salvesen said its UK logistics business had been hit by wet weather in July, in an update this week.This business, which processes and stores frozen vegetables for customers, suffered wet weather, severely affecting crops that are harvested during the summer, it said. However, overall trade was broadly in line with expectations, which are weighted to the second half of the year in the financial year-to-date, it added.And the company announced it had sold its frozen vegetable business, Christian Salvesen Foods, to Belgian vegetable company Pinguin Foods UK for around £17.2m, payable at completion.The transaction is expected to close in mid-September following employee consultation.last_img

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Ditty on song

first_imgThe Big Apple didn’t know what had hit it last year, when 50 of Britain’s best craft bakers piled off a plane and pounded the sidewalks in a mission to visit the city’s finest bakers and retailers.Part of the British Confectioners’ Association’s (BCA) busy schedule of trips and events for members, the four-day visit was the brainchild of BCA president Robert Ditty, one of Northern Ireland’s best-known craft bakers. As well as walking tours of Manhattan, which took in retailers and producers such as Whole Foods Market, Amy’s Bread and Bouchon Bakery, Ditty also arranged a special dinner with speakers from New York’s thriving baking industry.One of the most interesting presentations came from a director of artisan bakery chain Panera, which operates over 1,000 bakery-cafés in the US. “He gave our members a lot to think about,” says Ditty. “It is a huge operation, but has managed to stay true to artisan roots, with some innovative ideas. The dough for its bread is produced and moulded in central bakeries, then delivered to stores in vans that have been converted into provers. When the bread arrives, the store simply bakes it off.”== NETWORKING STRENGTH ==The fact that Ditty was able to organise such an ambitious trip and persuade leading lights of the US baking scene to give their time is testament to his networking powers. As well as his work for the BCA, Ditty has his hand in numerous other pies, ranging from organising the first-ever Lough Neagh food festival last year, attracting thousands of visitors to his home town of Castledawson, to setting up a community allotment, giving young people the chance to learn about food.He is also the treasurer of north-east Ireland’s newly launched Slow Food convivium and often visits mainland Britain to give bakery demonstrations at events such as the Ludlow Food Festival.On top of all these extracurricular activities, Ditty runs a large craft bakery in Castledawson, employing around 40 people and producing artisan breads, cakes and oatcakes for wholesale, export and for his two coffee shops. He also recently set up a deli and chocolate school next door to the bakery.Just writing about his side-projects is exhausting enough, but Ditty says he relishes his busy lifestyle. “I really enjoy getting involved. Life would be boring without these sorts of activities,” he says.Getting other bakers involved is also a passion for this third-generation baker – hence his involvement with the BCA. “We meet regularly at members’ bakeries, so we can get to know each others’ businesses and discuss important issues facing craft bakers,” he says. “We take it in turns to give talks on anything from energy conservation to how to decide your retail price.”Hearing how other bakers set their prices was particularly fascinating, says Ditty. “If you take 20 bakers, they’ll have 20 different ways of coming up with the price of a product, none of which would satisfy an accountant! Some people multiply ingredients costs by three, add a bit extra and see what the main competitor down the road is charging. Others focus more on labour costs, but it’s really difficult to work out how many hours go into a making a product.”== ISSUES OF CONCERN ==Other issues that have been hotly debated at BCA meetings include the role part-baked products play in craft baking and how automation has changed the nature of bread in the UK. “Andrew Whitley’s book, Bread Matters, has really caused a stir among bakers,” he says. “I think he has gone a little bit too far in criticising industrial bread production, but he’s right that we should look at how bread is made. Supermarkets are so cut-throat these days, that sometimes it would be cheaper for me to buy a product from the supermarket and repackage it than make it myself!”Not that Ditty would dream of doing such a thing. He remains dedicated to preserving the traditions and craft of baking – a dedication that led him to set up a collaboration of Irish artisan bakers back in 2001. Originally called the Artisan Bakers of Northern Ireland, the group changed its name recently to the Company of Irish Bakers, to reflect the inclusion of a baker from the Republic. Its five members are: Ditty’s; Corn Dolly Bakery, Newry; Gala Bakery, Ballybofey (Co Donegal); Heatherlea, Bangor; and Hunter’s Bakery, Limavady.Initially set up as an informal cluster that would meet regularly to discuss business ideas and ways to improve recipes, the collaboration has developed a commercial edge, thanks to support from government organisation Invest Northern Ireland. Five products under the Company of Irish Bakers brand are to be launched in the spring, with mainland Britain and the Republic of Ireland key target markets. Spiced fruit cake, oatmeal biscuits, porter cake, fruit brack and Ditty’s own smoked oatcakes make up the new range, with each member of the group making one of the products.The range should have launched last year, but Ditty admits there have been problems with finalising the packaging and working out logistics. These stumbling blocks are close to being resolved, with Ditty likely to be the main distribution point for the range. This makes sense because his company has built a profitable export business to Britain and the Republic in recent years, with a range of Irish oatcakes in flavours such as dulse (seaweed) and sesame, celery and pepper, and walnut, as well as plain and a newly launched smoked variety. Around 30% of sales come from exports.British retailers that stock Ditty’s oatcakes include Fortnum & Mason, Whole Foods Market and Forman and Field, as well as independent retailers via wholesaler Marigold. The firm also won a contract in June to supply 180 Waitrose stores.Sales of the oatcakes have soared and Ditty has looked at ways of upping production levels. “I visited Bells of Lazonby to see their rotary biscuit moulder, but there’s a high level of buttermilk in our oatcakes and the dough would have stuck to the cutters.” Instead, the biscuits are still cut into triangles by hand.The oatcakes are made with oats smoked by Frank Hederman of Cork-based smoked salmon company Belvelly Smoke House. “Frank came up with a system where the oats are spread over fly screens and slotted into the smoker,” says Ditty. “The oats are then cold smoked over beech for up to 24 hours, depending on the weather, and are sent up to us in sacks.”The backbone of the company has traditionally been bread, particularly soda farls, as well as cakes and pastries. But Ditty says the market is becoming increasingly competitive. “The supermarket effect is only just starting in Northern Ireland and many of the small high street bakeries can’t compete, so we’re looking at the wholesale market instead.”The changing situation in Northern Ireland means speciality products for export, such as oatcakes, are likely to grow in importance. Ditty claims to have several new ideas up his sleeve. There’s even talk of exporting to New York. It just goes to show that Ditty’s love of networking brings rewards on many levels.last_img read more

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Mama’s takes the title in Cupcake challenge

first_imgMama’s Cupcakes from Cheshunt, Herts has been crowned overall champion of our national Cupcake Competition, in association with National Cupcake Week.Co-sponsored by Puratos and Chelver, the forthcoming week, 14-19 September, is designed to promote the highly popular baked good and the different recipes bakers can use to create them.Mama’s Black Forest Cupcake was chosen as overall winner and will represent Supreme Saturday during the week. The five other winning entries, which will represent Monday to Friday, were: Eat Your Greens Cupcake created by Country Cupcakes; Summertime Fizz created by The Cupcake Girl; The White Rabbit, created by Fantasy Cupcakes; Crazy Lemon Cupcake by the Crazy Baker; and Very Vanilla by Patacupcake.The guest judging panel included celebrity cake-maker Mich Turner, award-winning baker and author Dan Lepard, and Leiths Baking Bible co-author Fiona Burrell.l For more details see pages 22-24.last_img read more

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In Short

first_imgAsda bakery changesAsda has had a reshuffle of its bakery department. John Cummings has replaced Ian Martin as the new category director for bakery. Martin moves to frozen. David Miles joins as the new commercial director for bakery and frozen.Cake sale for Pakistan British Baker contributor Huma Qureshi has organised a charity cake sale in Spitalfields, London to raise money for flood-stricken Pakistan. On 3 September (11am-4pm) The Cake in the City stall will sell cakes donated by Hummingbird Bakery, Bea’s of Bloomsbury, Le Dolci and Mitty’s Cakes. All money raised will go to the Islamic Relief’s Pakistan Floods Emergency Appeal. You can also donate online at www.justgiving.com/cakeinthecity.Italian coffee for ShellCoffee Republic is to sell its premium Italian roasted coffee at up to 450 Shell forecourts in a link-up with MyCoffee, which runs self-serve speciality coffee bars. The ’To Go’ range will include premium coffee specialties such as cappuccino, caffè latte and espresso.King passes on Former master baker and confectioner George King passed away in June, aged 96. He was formerly in business at Landor Road, Stockwell and was past chairman of the NAMB Lambeth Borough Association in 1955.Depot in doubt As British Baker was going to press, it has been reported that the future of a Hovis Bakery distribution depot in Inverness, is in question, after ’for sale’ signs were placed on the building. According to BBC News, the site at the Longman Industrial Estate employs 38 people, but management said no decision had been taken to close the depot.last_img read more

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Analysts weigh in on Premier Foods

first_imgA clutch of City analysts have downgraded their predictions for food manufacturer Premier Foods in the light of last week’s profit warning by the company.RBS downgraded its rating on Premier Foods from buy to hold and cut its target price by a whopping 84%. It said: “We believe an element of the profit loss from the 1H11 customer dispute (widely speculated in the press to have been Tesco) is at least semi-permanent, as competitors have been given greater shelf presence.”The broker cuts its full-year trading profit forecasts from £230m to £189m in 2011 and from £249m to £216m to 2012 and the target price now stands at just 6p, from 38p before.Elsewhere, Martin Deboo, at Investec Securities said he expected the company to see a +10% downgrade to its full year EBIT, to below £200m and added that to say new chief executive Mike Clarke had received a “baptism of fire” was the “understatement of the year”.He added: “The critical question facing Premier and its shareholders this morning is whether the company can survive and whether there is any value left in the equity at all? We expect Premier’s market cap to fall well below £200m. Against this FY11E net debt is being guided upwards and is likely to be in excess of  £900m at year end. The Group pension deficit is in £500m territory. So the equity is now a sliver.“Despite this, Premier is making some notably firm statements around its financing position and the progress of discussions with its bankers. It retains a credit rating, at least for now. We will no doubt hear more on the conference call but our judgement is that the company will survive in some form.”>> Premier issues profit warninglast_img read more

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Irish bakers hit back at proposed VAT change

first_imgIrish bakeries have hit out at plans to change VAT rules so that products including bagels, speciality breads and croissants would be liable to tax at 13.5%.The Revenue decided last month that many bakery products, which had previously been zero-rated, were so far-removed from standard loaves of bread that they should be liable for the 13.5% reduced rate of VAT. Products in the new rate include speciality breads, such as garlic bread, onion bread and fennel bread, as well as brioche.Bakers claimed the move would hurt their businesses and would inevitably lead to price hikes for consumers. The concerns were put to Minister for Finance Michael Noonan last month.At The Bread Crumb craft bakery in Kenmare, Co Kerry, which makes and sells a wide range of croissants, owner Manuela Goeb criticised the rise in VAT. “It won’t raise any extra money for the Revenue because people will just stop buying the products if they go up in price,” she said. “Alternatively, bakers will just stop making them, which is probably what we will do.”A spokesman for the Irish Bread Bakers Association said: “We are very concerned about any situation where the price of bread may increase. We are engaging with the relevantagencies to ensure that modern breads that the consumer enjoys remain at the 0% rate of VAT.”Information published on the Revenue’s website to clarify the reasons for the change, said that the products to be taxed did not “conform to the ingredient definition of bread”.Karen Mulcahy from The Vat Consultancy told British Baker that the changes to Irish VAT laws were unlikely to affect British rates of tax.last_img read more

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Bakery suppliers sought for NHS

first_imgBakers are being invited to apply for the opportunity to supply bread and morning goods to NHS hospitals in England. The advert for the framework will be published in spring, with the framework agreement set to start in September 2012.Kevin Goldfinch, buyer at NHS Supply Chain, which manages the framework agreement, is keen to hear from any interested bread manufacturers who could deliver competitively priced products to hospital sites. Typically, bakers supplying the NHS supply between one and six hospitals with bread and morning goods and cover a minimum geographic distribution area of 50 miles. Kevin said, “We are interested in hearing from any bread manufacturers who are committed to supplying the NHS, they will have to be either BRC (British Retail Consortium) accredited or be willing to undertake a food audit. This would provide hospital catering managers with sufficient choice to ensure they obtain quality via an excellent service at a low cost. The process is open to small, medium and large bakeries.” Bakers who apply will be evaluated via the tender process and, if successful, they will be put on to a framework agreement, whereby the bakery and hospital catering department can discuss requirements and complete the process. If you would like further information or to apply please email: [email protected]last_img read more

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Bakers sign up to Real Bread Loaf Mark

first_imgMore than 50 bakers have now signed up to the Real Bread Campaign’s Real Bread Loaf Mark, since its launch in September last year.The Campaign launched the mark in a bid to inform consumers about which loaves are additive-free.Featuring in the 52 bakeries to sign up are: Artisan Bread Organic, Chalk Hills Bakery, Cinnamon Square and The Thoughtful Bread Company.The organisation said early adopters of the mark range from start-up kitchen-table micro-bakeries, through high-street family bakeries, to the nationally-distributed Cranks brand.Chris Young, co-ordinator, Real Bread Campaign, said: “We still call for an Honest Crust Act that requires all bakers to declare everything that goes into a loaf, and for bakers to come clean voluntarily in the meantime, but for now, The Loaf Mark is a quick way for shoppers to see that a loaf is additive-free.’In a survey carried out for the Campaign, by Toluna, it claimed more than 70% of Britons believed it was unacceptable that an ingredient/additives list doesn’t have to be displayed for unwrapped loaves, and that processing aids don’t have to appear on any ingredients list.According to the report, 85% of those polled said they thought a mark to show a loaf was additive-free would be useful.Bakers wanting to use the mark must sign an annual agreement that he/she will only use it to promote loaves made without the use of any processing aids or other artificial additives.Full details can be found at www.realbreadcampaign.org.last_img read more

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News story: Scaling up materials & manufacture: apply for an innovation loan

first_imgUp to £10 million in innovation loans is available to UK small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to scale up and commercialise innovative manufacturing processes and materials development.Innovation loans will be made through Innovate UK Loans Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Innovate UK.Manufacturing and commercial readinessThe loan competition aims to help SMEs progress their innovative manufacturing and materials projects and achieve manufacturing and commercial readiness.By commercial readiness we mean: Find out more about Innovate UK’s work in manufacturing and materials. Find out more about the loan competition. Innovation loans for late-stage projectsThis is the second loan competition offered under Innovate UK’s pilot programme.Recognising that innovations need different types of funding support, Innovate UK’s pilot is a patient, flexible loan scheme for projects that are nearer to market, where there tends to be less risk involved.It will make available up to £50 million over 2 years to the end of 2019. It is open to all manufacturing sectors. creation of new or improved manufacturing facilities, equipment and systems development of software development of new business models materials testing Read an overview of innovation loans and what they can be used for. Loan competition details the capability to produce prototype products or systems at a commercially viable rate or scale evidence that a business is financeable and has significant market potential the ability of a business to market and sell its products, processes or services the loan competition opens on 26 February, and the deadline for registration is at midday on 25 April 2018 innovation loans can range between £100,000 and £1 million, and projects last up to 5 years. They are for late-stage experimental development only you could get an innovation loan of up to 100% of your eligible project costs only single, UK-based SMEs may apply briefing events will run across the UK during March 2018 Projects should focus on a late-stage manufacturing or materials innovation rather than be at the product level. They may include (but are not restricted to):last_img read more

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News story: Foreign Secretary to visit Washington

first_imgForeign Secretary Boris Johnson will travel to Washington DC today (Sunday, 6 May) for 2 days of talks with the US Administration on Iran, North Korea, Syria, and other major international issues.While in Washington, the Foreign Secretary will meet Vice President Mike Pence and other senior Administration figures, including National Security Advisor John Bolton. He will also have the opportunity to discuss key issues with Congressional foreign policy leaders.Speaking ahead of his visit, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: Find out more about the UK-USA special relationship. Further information Media enquiriesFor journalistsEmail: [email protected]: 020 7008 3100 Follow the Foreign Secretary on Twitter @BorisJohnson and Facebook Follow the Foreign Office on Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn On so many of the world’s foreign policy challenges the UK and US are in lockstep. We’ve seen this recently with the response to the poisonings in Salisbury, our strong response to Asad’s use of chemical weapons in Syria, and the effort to de-nuclearise North Korea. The UK, US, and European partners are also united in our effort to tackle the kind of Iranian behaviour that makes the Middle East region less secure – its cyber activities, its support for groups like Hezbollah, and its dangerous missile programme, which is arming Houthi militias in Yemen.last_img read more

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