Food from Britain (FFB) has promoted JANE WAKELING to head of client development and appointed KIRSTY GRIEVE as regional food and drinks manager. Ms Wakeling leads the organisation’s consulting and will have responsibility for providing FFB clients with strategic and practical support to ensure they gain maximum benefit from FFB’s international network. Ms Grieve will continue Ms Wakeling’s previous work to drive FFB’s campaign to promote the UK’s regional food and drinks industry. The programme recently received funding for a further two years, made possible by an additional £2m from DEFRA.Mexican and regional American food supplier Discovery Foods has appointed ROBERT POWELL as group human resources manager. Mr Powell is based at the group’s Sonora Foods plant in Daventry, Northants, and is responsible for 350 employees across three sites: two Sonora plants in Daventry and the Discovery Foods site in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.Food co-packer for brand owners in the consumer goods market Budelpack March is strengthening its sales team with the appointment of JEFF PARRY as national account manager. Mr Parry has already worked with the company as project manager and will be helping customers to define their requirements as well as completing projects on time and to budget. The Cambridgeshire-based firm handles a wide range of food products, including powders, liquids and confectionery in formats ranging from sachets to stick packs, thermoformed pots, bags, cartons, jars and bottles.Dickinson & Morrison has appointed LUCY IDDISON as brand manager. She joins from Northern Foods where she was Tesco category manager for the chilled pastry savoury division, managing the own-label and branded portfolio, including Pork Farms. In her new role, Ms Iddison will concentrate on brand penetration in the multiples and raising awareness of the firm’s Melton Mowbray pork pie products. She will be based at Walkers Charnwood bakery.Indian food company Patak’s has bolstered its head office team with seven new appointments, from sales to consumer research. Market analysis and forecasting will be handled by category and consumer insight group manager MATT CLARK, while manufacturing will be overseen by group manager GREGG HARRISION, specialising in breads, foods and frozen. In addition, the company has appointed: BEN ELLIS as market manager for the US; GRAHAM THOMPSON as development manager, food solutions; ISABELLA LOWE as development manager, international markets; EMMA SNEDDON as business development manager, foods; and PETER MCCORMICK as business development executive, frozen and breads. RTS Flexible Systems, which supplies equipment for product handling, storage and packaging, has appointed ROY FRASER as UK sales manager for bread and bakery.Vision-guided, fast-picking robots are a key part of RTS’s offering.
A LOCAL craft baker says he is fighting to save his livelihood after finding out bakery take-away giant Greggs has bought the shop next door to his.Mr Mejar Singh, who owns WC Masters & Son bakery in Atherstone, North Warwick-shire, found out a month ago that the former hairdresser next door to him was being sold to Greggs. Mr Singh and his wife and parents have run the 100-year-old shop, with bakery attached, for the past 22 years, employing 12 people. He said: “The site was not sold directly to Greggs, it was sold through an agent. The hairdressers had no idea this would happen.”When Mr Singh realised Greggs was planning to buy the site, after hearing rumours locally, he tried to buy it himself. His offer of £305,000 was rejected by the estate agents, who asked for £375,000.He told British Baker: “It is not worth £375,000; shops in the area go for £290,000. I even gave Greggs the opportunity to buy out my own shop, but my offer was rejected.”Mr Singh has since raised a petition in his shop to mea-sure local opposition to Greggs opening next door to him. This has so far gathered 200 signatures. He will also raise the issue in a local council meeting and in the local newspaper.He told British Baker that Atherstone is a village with a population of 12,000. It already has three bakeries – a Three Cooks outlet, a bakery called Gaytons and a farmers’ market shop and bakery called Nightingales. His own bakery sells a 50-line range including bread, cakes, filled baguettes and sandwiches. It serves retail and some wholesale customers. “Greggs knows there is a bakery right next door to the shop it is buying. This town does not need another bakery,” he said.A Greggs spokesman said Greggs prides itself on the contribution it makes to local communities. “There is no way Greggs would target an individual local business,” he said. “We have wanted to open in Atherstone for four years. Trading in close proximity to a potential competitor, whether it is a local baker or indeed any form of take-away operation, does not necessarily have an adverse effect on their trading performance; in certain situations Greggs has enhanced the footfall in the areas in which we trade.”
Ilapak (Hayes, Middlesex) has developed a unique flowrapper for Sonora Foods, which, for the first time, enables the company to produce high quality flowrapped packs with a six-month shelf life. Using Ilapak’s VacMap flowrapper, Sonora can now produce new long-life packs at high speeds, at a lower cost than using a thermo-forming machine, according to the company. Brian Ridgway, managing director of Sonora Foods explains: “We’re delighted with the result – the packs look excellent and, as they are print-registered, we can achieve a much higher quality presentation for maximum shelf impact. Customers perceive the contents of a flowrapped pack to be fresher than a thermo-formed pack, giving greater customer appeal and an important marketing advantage.”
In today’s increasingly health-conscious society, consumers are becoming more aware of the provenance of foods and the ingredients they contain. As a result, products that are perceived to have associated health benefits are growing rapidly in popularity. Manufacturers are responding to this consumer demand in a number of ways including introducing lower fat versions of popular bakery products, reducing salt levels and eliminating ingredients such ashydrogenated vegetable oils, artificial flavours and additives.This drive to provide a wider range of healthier products has carried through to inclusions, where the addition of ’superfoods’, such as berries, nuts and seeds, is seen to boost the healthy credentials of breads, muffins and cookies. Consumers are buying into such products and are willing to pay a premium for them.Take acai berries, for example. Until recently relatively unheard of, these fruits, which grow on palm trees native to the Amazon and Brazilian rainforests, are rich in many important nutrients and antioxidants and are credited with many health benefits. The positive PR generated by these berries has increased the popularity of products that contain them and is driving sales.While it is true to say that sweet baked goods will remain an indulgence product, items with healthier inclusions provide bakery retailers with a way to differentiate themselves from competitors, maximise sales and add consumer interest.Simon Richardson, sales and marketing director, Rich Products
Gordon Brown has the keys to Number 10, so I wonder what the baking industry can expect from the new Prime Minister. It’s probable that high on his agenda will be health, education and welfare.The National Association (NA) is the voice of the craft industry; it is there to deal with the continual raft of government legislation and EU interference that seems to bombard us on a monthly basis. It also has to lobby the government of the day on behalf of its members; sometimes it may seem to be an endless task.As long a go as November 2000, in my capacity as chairman of the NA Parliamentary Committee, I asked fellow bakers to write to their local MPs asking why the government had taken no action despite the Competition Commission’s conclusion that some supermarkets were selling certain items below cost.To date I still have the replies from Margaret Beckett and Stephen Byers, who agreed with our concerns. They may have moved on, but the Competition Commission still rolls on.At least we had the opportunity to give representation to the Low Pay Commission asking for a more manageable percentage increase in September. Indeed, the increase announced is the lowest for the past two years – hopefully our words were taken into consideration.Maybe green issues such as reducing carbon footprints will be a high priority.Let’s just hope Gordon Brown walks to his local bakery in Fife instead of taking the ministerial Jag!
A North Hampshire baker is planning to seek compensation from Thames Water because the closure of the main road through his village is costing his business £400 a day.Simon Smart, who runs the Bramley Village Bakery with his wife Tracey, said the road closure to install a new underground sewerage system had started in November and was due to last 10 weeks.He told British Baker: “It’s been horrendous. They have shut off half the village, sending people on 15-mile diversions. We are not getting the passing trade and we reckon it’s cut sales by 40%.”The bakery normally sells between up to 500 Christmas cakes over the festive period, but sold only 120 this year. Sales of mince pies fell from 18,000 to 12,000.Smart said he would seek compensation but had noted in the small print of the form that it would be “down to Thames Water’s discretion”.
Following its purchase from Northern Foods a year ago, savoury pastry brand Pork Farms is re-establishing its brand with a new look.The re-brand, commissioned by general manager Nigel White, is designed to give it a more modern and contemporary look. “The Pork Farms brand is category leader, worth over £80m, with strong emotional loyalty,” said White. “People see our products as sociable foods, linked to good times and togetherness.”We need to communicate more clearly our natural, wholesome food values.”
How and when did you become involved in the baking industry?A I started in the baking industry in 1977, as a trainee manager at Skeltons in Hull.Prior to that, though, I had a background in retail. I’ve never been a baker as such.My forte is retail, and I am currently working as the retail operations manager for 50-shop chain Birds The Confectioners. I have worked for them for over 17 years.How did you become involved with the NA?A I went along to the local Nottingham and District Master Bakers’ Association in about 1994 and eventually became president of that organisation.I then got involved in the East Midlands regional association. We used to get together and tell each other, “This is how much we’re charging for mince pies, this is how much we’re charging for hot cross buns and so on.” Then, as soon as we all got back to our businesses, we charged what we wanted anyway.Becoming involved in the NA was a natural progression from there. I was involved in the parliamentary committee, which I chaired for a few years. I was a director for another few years and was then given the honour of becoming president.How did you feel when you were approached to be president?A I was absolutely delighted. I’m over half way through my term and it has been superb. There’s a lot of work to do, which does eat into my time. I’ve been very fortunate that Birds has allowed me to serve the NA for the year.What is interesting is that you get the opportunity to visit other companies and meet lots of like-minded people. Having been in the industry for a long time, I felt it was my opportunity to give something back. Let’s face it, the industry looks after me, my family and all our employees.How much spare time do you give up to be president?A This is the only downside of this role. It has peaks and troughs really; there are a lot of meetings and I spend a lot of time talking with head office, but I get some great trips. At the end of the day, I was under no pretence that it wouldn’t take up a lot of my time. I wouldn’t have taken on the role if I couldn’t have given 100%.How do you think that the NA helps bakeries?A The association helps bakers in many ways, particularly in terms of helping them understand legislation.The business days that we run are also a very important part of what we do. The ones we’ve held in Derby have attracted people from as far afield as Somerset, Scotland, Lancashire, London, wherever. We’re very proud of that.The NA has also developed an online Basic Hygiene certificate and training facility. We use it at Birds. It’s great because it means that we don’t need to send staff out on training days; they can simply work from a computer. It is also available in Polish and, soon, Portuguese.How do you feel about the membership figures going down each year?A It’s extremely unfortunate, but we have to be realistic and, every year, re-assess the running costs of the NA, making efficiencies and savings where we can, so as not to keep hiking up membership costs. We want our existing members to feel like they are getting value for money. It’s an important association, providing an important role to members.It’s sad to say, but there really are more and more bakeries going out of business each year, although I do passionately believe that there is a place for craft bakers on the high street. You have to look at your business realistically, not through rose-tinted glasses, and consider all the positive and negative elements.Why have you stayed in the industry since 1977?A What I like about the baking industry is that if anyone has a problem, there’s always someone who can help with advice or guidance. That’s a real credit to the industry. We have a good relationship with all our members. Only the other morning [Canvey Island bakery] BB Grouts rang me about a shop fitting and [Welsh bakery] David Jenkins rang me about tills.How will you feel when you’re no longer president?I’ll be happy to hand over the baton and hope that future presidents will enjoy the role as much as I have. n—-=== At a glance ===l Mike Holling was made president of the National Association of Master Bakers (NA) on 5 May, 2007. The NA represents the interests of the craft baking industry in England and Walesl He has been in the industry since 1977l Holling works as a retail operations manager at Birds the Confectioners in Derby, which has 50 outletsl He has been president of the regional Nottingham and District Master Bakers’ association, was involved in the NA’s parliamentary committee, and then became an NA director for a few yearsl Having been in the industry for a long time, Holling felt this was his opportunity to give something back
Are you planning a store expansion strategy? Want to corner your market? This is the tale of how Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ guru, did quite literally that, en route to achieving his modest target of 40,000 outlets (scarily, the company claims it’s still on track to hit that). The former housewares salesman, having bought up the fledgling chain in the late 1980s, had his eureka moment in 1991 when he opened a second Starbucks, yards away from an existing store. Reasoning that he could draw in thousands more customers simply by making his store a few steps more convenient, he opened one on the opposite corner of a busy intersection in Vancouver. An outlandish idea for what was then still considered a niche product – premium bean coffee sold at a price – Schultz’s gamble paid off, with queues around the block for both outlets. It’s a ploy that’s proven spectacularly successful: today there’s even a Starbucks in Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba. Clark traces the world’s revived obsession with coffee culture, from its early roots in Ethiopian culture, right through to the sharp decline in coffee consumption by the 1960s, as the big brands cheapened their product with poor-quality beans, to coffee’s slow revival at the hands of a few passionate bean enthusiasts from the 1970s.But if you thought café culture in the UK was something new, think again. In 1652, London had just one coffee house, but by 1700, it had more than 2,000. It was quickly superseded by tea, partly due to the poor coffee quality, with commentators of the day branding it “essence of old shoes”, with a flavour reminiscent of “dog or cat’s turd”.
A very big’congratulations!’ to the winners and finalists in the Baking Industry Awards and, importantly, a huge ’Thank You’ to all the award sponsors who made it possible.In the following pages, we celebrate all those who made it to the final three in each category.While we only give a brief summary, it is a tremendous accolade and recognition by the whole industry of what you have achieved.This year there were more entries than ever and I hope many of you will take the trouble to visit each other’s businesses, if you are not a direct rival, because those who do tell me there is always something to learn.But now it’s time to celebrate! So in the pages ahead we look at the winners and finalists.Most bakers put their heart and soul into what they do, but you also need a keen mind for business, a drive for quality, an instinct for innovation and sheer stamina for all the hard work that it takes to get to the top.Well done! We look forward to profiling many of you over the coming year.Sylvia Macdonald