Viewpoint

first_imgThis week’s issue brings the news Harvestime’s Walsall bakery is finally out of administration after six months in limbo. For a company of the calibre of Maple Leaf Bakery to gallop in at the eleventh hour talking about expanding the existing business must be a dream come true for the 248 remaining staff at the site – as well as customers and suppliers. The last two years must have been an endurance test – the bakery has been sold three times and been in administration twice. Along the way suppliers have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds and there have been at least 150 redundancies.The new owner, Maple Leaf Bakery, was founded in the UK in 1998 as an independent operating company of Canadian giant Maple Leaf Foods. It keeps a low profile, but with the Walsall deal it now has four British sites. Its new acquisition allows it to diversify into sliced bread and bake-off, alongside its range of bagels, pretzels and speciality baked goods. Those familiar with parent Maple Leaf Foods and its Canada Bread business, Canada’s biggest baker, will be watching with interest. And they will be particularly noting the fact that senior management say they will consider further acquisitions in the UK.Only a couple of years ago New Rathbones, from which Harvestime (2005) was formed, claimed to be the UK’s third largest plant baker – after British Bakeries and Allied Bakeries. The landscape has since changed with the growth of Warburtons – which is now recording a 26.1% market share, according to latest IRI figures. With companies like Maple Leaf growing in the UK, the baking scene may well have transformed itself again two years from now. This sort of flux is nothing new. But you sometimes wonder if other food sectors are going through as many changes as bakery – from craft retail to industrial supply. I was researching these matters on the internet the other day and found a couple of websites which suggested perhaps not. One site lists companies up for sale in various sectors – from technology to medical. But click on the food section and out of the 10 most recent entries, six are bakeries, one a sandwich bar and bakery, one a bacon slicer and two are caterers. The site is certainly thought provoking, and not just because it offers great entertainment in putting names to descriptions of location and turnover.last_img read more

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Consumer watch

first_imgBread is best when it’s just been made.I like focaccia bread from Oak Street Bakery in Windermere, the Lake District, because it is made on the premises with black olives, olive oil, herbs and cheese.The loaves are also quite big so I like to share them with the neighbours. The fudge cake is nice too because it is made from Belgian chocolate and in the winter I order my Christmas cake there.What’s also quite good is that Morrisons do a ’pick and mix’ of buns so you can buy a variety, ranging from a Champagne yeast roll to a roll containing peppers.Booths supermarket also do a nice walnut bread and the Co-op sell a tasty onion deli baguette.I think that more things could be put in bread to make it tasty, like fruit and nuts. My teenage daughter and her boyfriend, however, simply like white, medium sliced Warburtons bread and no others, just as long as it is soft and white.I worry that very cheap bread is made with more chemicals. I also don’t really like buying bread that has been put in a plastic bag – it changes the flavour of the bread. The bread tends to ’sweat’ when its packaged in plastic and I wonder if it increases the number of mould spores.What fascinates me is that fresh bread from a bakery doesn’t go mouldy, just stale, but bread in plastic bags does.Elaine BrownBarrow-in-Furness, Cumbrial Each month, British Baker asks a member of the public what they think of bakery products in the UKlast_img read more

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Allied sale rumours mount as plant bakery battle hots up

first_imgSpeculation was mounting in the national press this week over the future of Allied Bakeries, if parent Associated British Foods (ABF) should decide to sell the business.Kingsmill-owner ABF is said to be looking at a possible disposal of its bakeries – the business it was founded from in 1935.Primark owner ABF now considers the bread business “noncore and non-strategic”, according to a report in The Sunday Times last week, which ABF has refused to comment on.Analyst Martin Deboo of Investec told British Baker that he did not believe there was room for Warburtons, Hovis, own-label and Allied in the market, which was leading to a “bloodbath in profits” as cost increases were absorbed in a battle to gain market share.He said: “ABF won’t stay in the market. Allied will be sold to a third party or private equity firm. The Kingsmill relaunch in February has not been the solution, only adding 1% in market share. We think there is over-capacity in the plant baking industry. Market volumes are down, but you have Warburtons adding new capacity.”But another industry source questioned whether the Allied business would be attractive to a buyer. He said: “If Allied can’t make money itself at the scale it is, it is not that attractive for someone else to purchase. And how do you value a business when it is not making money? Premier Foods could buy it and rationalise the Hovis and Allied Bakeries plants, but the deal would have to be cleared by competition authorities.”Allied Bakeries’ chief executive Brian Robinson said: “Things being what they are in the corporate world I cannot comment at all.”Bread accounts for around 7% of ABF’s business, with the company also owning a raft of varied brands, from fashion retailer Primark and malt drink Ovaltine to Twinings tea and British Sugar.Deboo said: “ABF has an emotional attachment to the UK bread market, but with the seductive charms of Primark’s bras and knickers growing, we think ABF might seek an exit from bread to a third party.”last_img read more

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RGFC to tackle costs with increased prices

first_imgFood manufacturing group the Real Good Food Company (RGFC) has reported strong sales in its bakery ingredients division, up 13%. RGFC indicated it would seek to again increase prices in response to its own rising costs.Sales in its bakery division – made up of Wiltshire-based Hayden’s Bakeries and Seriously Scrumptious – were down 4%, primarily down to poor perfor-mance on two key lines, which are being redeveloped.The firm described the current trading environment as “very challenging”. Chairman Pieter Totte said: “The first half has been characterised by lower sugar prices on the one hand and higher prices in our bakery and bakery ingredients businesses on the other.”The management team is responding to these difficult conditions by striving for greater operational efficiencies, product innovation and a strong focus on customer service.”last_img read more

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UK bread prices stay low in world rankings

first_imgThe UK remains one of the cheapest countries in the world to buy bread, with prices in London and Manchester on a par with those in Lagos, Nigeria and Bangkok, Thailand.According to the latest figures from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), just released exclusively to British Baker, London was 84th cheapest (83rd last year) out of the 128 countries where the EIU monitors bread prices. Manchester was even lower down the table, ranked 101.Mystery shoppers for the EIU found that an average kilo of bread cost £1.80 in London and £1.36 in Manchester. Super-market prices in those two cities were £1.53 and 94p respectively. That compares with an average price of £1.42/kg in Bangkok and £1.78/kg in Lagos.The latest Worldwide Cost of Living survey, conducted in March, also shows Caracas in Venezuela was the most expensive place in the world to buy bread, with an average kilo costing £5.85. But survey editor Jon Copestake warned: “Caracas’ position is largely because it fixes exchange rates and the government rate doesn’t reflect real (or black market) rate.”Honolulu, in Hawaii was the second most expensive city in the world for bread, at £5.78/kg, with Austria, Japan, the US, France and Russia also in the Top 10.The capital of Iran, Tehran, remained the cheapest place in the world to buy bread, as in the 2008 survey. An average kilo cost just 26p this time.Copestake commented: “I’d say that bread prices in local currency have tended not to move a great deal this time around, so currency strength or weakness is a key driver, especially given the slowdown in inflation and deflation taking place around the world thanks to the econo-mic downturn.”The EIU sends mystery shoppers to buy bread and 159 other staples in 128 cities twice a year, in March and September. Results are then collated and published in the survey.Shoppers visit three bands of retailers classed as low, medium and high. For bread, the ’low’ classification covers supermarket chains, ’medium’ includes top-end food retailers, such as Marks & Spencer, and ’high’ covers boutique shops and department store food halls.Shoppers calculate the cost of a kilo of bread in each style of outlet. Prices in local currencies are then converted into dollars.last_img read more

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CASH founder tackles FSA on salt alternatives

first_imgA leading anti-salt crusader has criticised the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) failure to support potassium-based alterna-tives to sodium chloride in food.Speaking at the launch of National Salt Awareness Week at the House of Commons last week, Professor Graham MacGregor, founder of Consensus Action on Salt (CASH), criticised the FSA for its stance on scientific grounds. “Where there are problems for food manufacturers taking salt out, they could easily use potassium as a substitute. We are disappointed that the Food Standards Agency and the industry has not taken this up,” he said.Tesco own-label bread is one of few to currently use potassium. MacGregor claimed that the FSA should endorse potassium as an alternative option for industry. He told BB: “The dangers of adding potassium to food have been greatly exaggerated. But worldwide, it will become much more common.”He pointed to two studies one from the Netherlands showing that a salt substitute containing potassium chloride lowers blood pressure in older people, and a second from Taiwan indicating that changing salt to a mineral salt within two to three years caused a big reduction in total mortality and cardiovascular death.British Baker challenged FSA chief executive Tim Smith over whether it would be willing to revisit the potassium issue. “We’re neutral-to-interested on the subject,” he said. “The balance of evidence at the moment suggests that reducing sodium chloride content is the biggest and simplest step we can take.”If the evidence can be marshalled that says substitutional products are better, then we would support that.”last_img read more

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Student event plans detailed

first_imgThe Alliance for Bakery Students and Trainees’ (ABST) Annual Conference is to be held at the Alton Towers Hotel, Alton Towers, from 11-13 June.The ABST is encouraging all students and trainees to attend, as well as participate in the bakery and confectionery competitions, which will take place on Saturday 12 June. Several new competitions are on the schedule this year, including one in partnership with food and drink sector skills council Improve, which is aimed at trainees working in the industry.Other competitions include The Horton’s Trophy, the British Confectioners Association Award, President’s Cup and the Devonshire Rose Bowl, with cash prizes available for some of them.For a copy of the schedule and a membership form, please send an email to [email protected]last_img read more

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United Biscuits said to be up for sale

first_imgUnited Biscuits (UB) could be looking for a new owner, according to media reports.The maker of McVitie’s biscuits and Jacob’s cream crackers is reported to be considering selling the company for approximately £2bn. Private equity firms Blackstone Group LP and PAI Partners, which bought the firm in 2006 for £1.6bn, are thought to have spoken to banks, but have yet to choose an advisor for a possible sale.The pair could sell UB’s snacks and biscuits businesses separately or it could be listed on the stock exchange if offers are not high enough. UB’s listed rival Premier Foods has been tipped as a possible buyer for the group in the past, while Kraft could also be interested, after its acquisition of Cadbury earlier in the year.United Bicuits is the country’s biggest snack-maker and saw earnings rise by 13.7% to £223m in 2009 on sales growth of 5% to £1.26bn.last_img read more

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Jiffy has van with a plan

first_imgJiffy Trucks has launched its latest snack food delivery vehicle the Jiffy Estilo, based on the Citroën Dispatch.The Estilo holds a fridge, with extra shelving for back-up stock behind double-glazed units to retain the temperature.At the side there is a refrigerated buffet-carrier, which can hold nine industry standard bakery trays.All products in the fridge, including the drink racks, are easy to reach. The temperature is retained by a tensioned thermal roller blind; when you’re about to serve, simply release the blind and customers have full access and vision.Vince Vollans, Jiffy’s customer account manager, said: “As well as better display, easier access and a stylish new shape, we have incorporated a large buffet-carrying facility suitable for business and lunch platter delivery.”last_img read more

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Indiana Michigan Power customers bills to increase

first_img WhatsApp Pinterest Facebook Previous articleDowagiac Police will check on latch-key kids during school closureNext articleMan accused in deadly shooting at America Legion Post in South Bend sentenced Darrin Wright Indiana Michigan Power customers bills to increase Pinterest Facebook By Darrin Wright – March 14, 2020 0 401 Google+ WhatsApp Twitter IndianaLocalMichiganNews Twitter Google+ (Photo supplied/Indiana-Michigan Power) Indiana Michigan Power customers will see a rate hike soon.The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has approved a 5.7% rate hike for the Fort Wayne-based utility, which is a little less than half of the 11.75% increase the utility was initially seeking.That’ll still bring in $84-million in extra income as the typical customer will see a price increase of about $10 per month.The original proposal would’ve seen your bill jump by $21 per month.This is the second time in two years I&M has raised rates, with a 7.26% increase approved in 2018.The rate hike will be phased in over the next year, starting later this month.last_img read more

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