Almond prices have remained firm on the back of a large shipment figure for September 07, according to Mark Setterfield, RM Curtis’ MD, in the company’s Edible Nuts & Dried Fruit Market Report: Sep-Oct 2007.Total domestic and export shipments were up 10.5% from 2006, he noted. “Almonds continue to show comparatively good value against the other tree nuts and, in light of the weak US dollar, almonds look even better value in sterling, euros and so on. It is hard to see prices weakening to any major extent.”On hazelnuts, the latest figures from Turkey say that 70,000m tonnes has been bought already, less than the announced planned total of 150,000m tonnes by the end of October. “Despite this, there is tight availability and, together with the continued strong Lira, has pushed prices higher still over the past month.”As the 2008 walnut season opens, Setterfield added, there are some concerns coming to light, which might result in firming prices into 2008: the Californian crop is down on last year; Eastern Europe (predominantly Moldova and Bulgaria) are short this year; and India appears to be down on last year’s bumper crop, along with France. “We would advise walnut buyers to look to secure offers on at least 50% of their 2008 requirements,” Setterfield added.”Increasingly, we are seeing growing demand for cashews. While innovation is key to developments within snacking and manufacturing and while cashews appear to be retaining and growing in application, the potential for price increases presently outweighs potential decreases.”
Grahams Home Bakery in Dromore, Co Down, has signed a lucrative deal to supply cake and bun lines to 10 Sainsbury’s stores in Northern Ireland.The deal, estimated to be worth £200,000 a year, will see the family-run bakery supplying its traditional range of cakes, as well as a new line called ‘Pick Me’. Sales and marketing manager, Alistair Toal, has been looking to get into Sainsbury’s for over a year, and has been working with its regional buyer Michael McCambley.“We’re trying to be more forward-thinking than our competitors, and have been working on re-branding and re-packaging our products,” said Toal. “We realised there was a younger market that we weren’t tapping into.” Grahams’ current range includes boxed cakes, that aren’t generally brought on impulse, so the new ‘Pick Me’ range has been designed to appeal to a wider market and includes products such as muffins, sold in smaller packs and priced to sell. “We wanted something that would make customers’ heads turn in store,” explained Toal. “In future we also hope to take the brand to England.”
British strawberries were traditionally in season from early June until mid-August, but with the widespread use of polytunnels and by growing a range of different varieties, this season has been extended to the end of September.The British climate is ideally suited to growing soft fruits and so, in season, buy British. When strawberries are shipped from long distances, the fruit is picked before it is ripe to ensure it does not go mushy in transit and so the texture and flavour suffer as a result. Fresh strawberries are best used as fillings with cream, cream cheeses such as mascarpone or crème patissiere, in pastries, tarts, choux buns, roulades, meringues and cakes. They mix well with nuts, so that shortcakes, biscuits or pastry can be made using, for example, hazelnuts. Strawberries go well with rhubarb, gooseberries, raspberries, redcurrants, passion fruit, elderflower and chocolate among other things.If strawberries are cooked they release a lot of liquid, so adding a crumble on top helps to absorb some of that. For a different strawberry tart, mix with other summer fruits and cook to release their juices with some sugar. Put into pastry cases and cover with a crumble mix that contains oats and, possibly, nuts. For a summer twist on a winter pudding make a Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble using amaretti biscuits in the crumble mix.* Fiona Burrell, co-author of Leiths Baking Bible, from the world-famous Leiths School of Food and Wine
Don’t miss your chance to be part of the Baking Industry Awards 2008, get those forms in before it’s too late!The deadline has been extended until 23 May, so luckily you’ve got another week to enter. The awards recognise the hard work and passion of everyone involved in the British baking industry, so why not have the chance to be rewarded for all your effort – there are awards to suit all.Entrants do not have to be a supplier or customer of any of the category sponsors – anyone can enter, big or small. Joanna Lumley hosted last year’s red-carpet event, which was attended by key players in the industry. This year looks to be just as spectacular.The ceremony will take place at the Grosvenor House hotel in Mayfair on Monday, 15 September. For entry forms or advice contact Stephanie Smallwood at William Reed Events on 01293 610433 or visit [http://www.bakeryawards.co.uk].
British Baker is encouraging bakers up and down the country to capitalise on the ever-popular cupcake trend by getting involved in National Cupcake Week.The event, to be held from 2-8 March 2009, will be highlighted in bakery and café outlets via special merchandising materials and window stickers, urging customers to come in and treat themselves. The aim of the week is to heighten customers’ awareness of the huge number of recipes and exotic toppings available for cupcakes and to tempt new and existing customers to buy at least one during the week.British Baker will be producing a different recipe for each day of the week and is organising a PR campaign to drive awareness in the national media.There will also be a nationwide window-dressing competition to promote cupcakes during the week, where the winning bakery or café will win a top prize of two seats at the 2009 Baking Industry Awards, to be held at the Park Lane Hilton in London on 8 September. The event is supported by the National Association of Master Bakers and the Scottish Association of Master Bakers.
== l Healthy breads & wholegrain ==Is the UK falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to marketing the benefits of wholegrain in bakery?== l What makes a winner? ==We visit North Wales’ The Village Bakery (Coedpoeth) to find out why it scooped the Rank Hovis-sponsored Craft Business Award at BIA08== l Doughnuts, yum yums & sweet fried goods ==The big industry suppliers tell us what’s hot in the world of doughnut innovation
I often wonder about the differences between success and failure. We are all aware that businesses in every sector are struggling in the current economic climate; some get to the point where they cannot carry on and, sadly, are forced to go into administration.The recent, well-publicised events at Coffee Republic are a good case in point. (At this point I should mention that my former business supplied them from 1998, and I purchased a few shares so I would receive copies of their accounts.)Over the years, Coffee Republic has rapidly expanded, acquired businesses – for example, Good Bean – contracted and finally moved towards a franchise-based operation, increasing its estate again. My 10,000 shares purchased at 8p had been diluted to 166, worth 20p each at the time of their administration. I purchased 800 shares at 40p in Caffè Nero at the same time. When it went private a couple of years ago, shareholders received 250p per share. Caffè Nero has continued to expand and, more importantly, make a good profit.A visit to both chains will show great superficial similarity; they both serve similar-sounding drinks and comparable ranges of sandwiches, paninis and muffins and so on. The difference in their performance is not just down to timing; Coffee Republic was into variably performing franchises and some very high rents. Even now, I am watching some great coffee shops not only opening, but thriving; examples include London coffee shops Flat White (www.flat-white.co.uk) and Sacred (www.sacredcafe.co.uk). Many of the successes in this area now have very strong Antipodean roots. Indeed, the current hot spot for coffee shops is New Zealand – in particular, Wellington.I can think of examples in other bakery-related sectors. Paul has been an enormous national success story, expanding rapidly, but they sell freshly baked bread (albeit from part-baked frozen), cakes and pastries, plus a range of filled baguettes and drinks – does this sound familiar? Le Pain Quotidien (www.lepainquotidien.com) has a similar range, although more geared to sit down.Ottolenghi (www.ottolenghi.co.uk), my current favourite London bakery/deli, is going from strength to strength. I defy anyone to visit one of their shops and not feel inspired to purchase. I loved my lunch yesterday, the strawberry-peach and pistachio tart as dessert. I only eat their muesli for breakfast and will deliver their cakes to mum today – via the gym!If you get the chance, please visit some of the places I have mentioned and ask yourself: ’What are they doing right/wrong?’ and, more importantly, ’What can I do with my business to make sure I remain one of the successes?’
Machinery: Abacus digital water batching systemWhy installed: Using buckets is time-consuming, as each one has to be filled and then carried to the mixing vessel, with the total tallied an activity that takes up much of the operator’s working day.How it came about: Owner Nigel Bramman contacted John Morton of Aquameter, which produces water meters for many of the big bakeries. Morton called on the bakery to discuss if, and how, the water meter might help.What it does: The meter is a digital, micro-computer-controlled unit, which delivers pre-selected quantities of water from a single pipe straight into the mixing vessel. This precise water metering means operators can exactly recreate batch consistency every time. It allows automatic batch quantity control of water from a single water source in the temperature range 090C; hot and cold water supplies can be blended using the Abacus thermostatic control valve to give a preset temperature.Tech spec: A water metering device and solenoid valve are located in-line on an enclosure on the water pipe. A solid-state electronic micro-controller with push-button keys and a digital display control the interface between the hardware and the operator. When the required preset batch quantity is set on the digital display, the water solenoid valve opens and water is discharged through the metering device. When the correct amount ofwater has been dispensed, the solenoid valve closes.Problems solved: Bramman finds it has brought savings in both time and cost.Supplied by: Aquameterwww.aquameter.co.uk
Scotbake is super-sizing its business, following a multi-million-pound cash injection.The firm – the largest independent wholesale craft bakery in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland – will move from its 18,000sq ft premises in Inverness to the 140,000sq ft Burnett Bakery site, which stopped making bread in 1996, when British Bakeries made 50 staff redundant. The building was latterly owned by Hovis as a distribution centre.The Bank of Scotland investment means the 20-year-old firm will relocate its 70 existing staff and also hopes to add 30 new jobs in the first year, including drivers and bakers.Scotbake forecasts annual turnover to rise by more than 50% to £3m as a result. Scotbake already distributes Kingsmill and Warburtons across the Highlands and Islands and the expansion will see it take over distribution of Hovis products. It also bakes its own bread, rolls and hot plate products, which it sells to the foodservice and retail sectors.Operations director Derek Smith said: “Distance to market is one of the biggest problems facing any business in the north and we now have a ready-made, area-wide daily distribution centre, which could bring huge savings and efficiencies to other suppliers who want to piggy-back onto our operation.”Scotbake also hopes to build up the bakery business and distribute its products in the central belt – using the spare capacity in the vans bringing supplies north, but going back empty every day.
The Aures Group’s latest version of its integrated, vertical-concept EPOS equipment is the Galéo 200. Its fanless and vertical design makes it particularly suitable for the tough conditions in catering, takeaway and food outlets.The system features an Intel Atom Pineview dual-core D525 processor for a fanless IT system, highly resistant to dust, flour, crumbs and accidental splashes.The new Galéo 200 incorporates the HSD Exclusive (Hardware Status Display) management utility. This utility software provides real-time display (in three languages) of key system status data. Details requested by users are displayed on the terminal’s touch screen.This solution also enables a summary email report for an entire batch of terminals to be sent out automatically for as many units and locations as required, providing enhanced IT monitoring and security.