Macphie (Glenbervie, Scotland) says its American Cake Muffin and Mississipi Muffin mixes and concentrates eliminate the time and inconsistencies associated with making muffins from scratch. Available in plain, chocolate and toffee flavours, they can be combined with a variety of ingredients, such as pistachio nuts (right), to create signature, flavoured muffins.Bakers can add visual appeal using Macphie fillings and finishings, the firm says, including its range of 5th Avenue Icings, Bake stable fillings and the Mactop range of cream alternatives.The 5th Avenue Icings are fast drying, will not crack or become brittle, and are freeze-thaw stable, says the company. They are available in white, chocolate, dark chocolate, caramel, strawberry and coffee flavours.Bake-stable fillings are also supplied by Macphie in toffee, chocolate, orange, lemon and cinammon flavours.The company’s Sensations cake mixes are also suitable for making muffins and are available in six flavours.
Juice Doctor is a new, natural fruit drink backed by Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave designed to combat dehydration, which it says affects two out of three people.The company has worked with nutritionists to develop a formulation which improves water, vitamin and mineral uptake by the body. The drinks are made from a specially formulated blend of spring water, natural fruit juices, vitamins and rehydrating minerals, and come in three flavours – lemon, tropical and pomegranate. Sir Redgrave said: “Our bodies lose over two litres of water a day just by going about our daily lives.”Juice Doctor is being rolled out nationally during the next year following a successful pilot in more than 100 independent retailers and delis in London and the south-east.
n Ingredients supplier Mayfair Foods has acquired Hall Farm Merchants, a dried fruit business, with immediate effect. “We feel the acquisition of Hall Farm Merchants’ business fits the dynamics of Mayfair Foods,” said a spokesperson for the company, who added that it was looking to make further acquisitions.n The Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed last week that the Retail Price Index, the most familiar domestic measure of inflation in the UK, has risen to 4.1%. According to ONS, the rate of inflation grew, due to pressure from petrol and food prices. The government’s target measure was 2.2% in January, up from 2.1% in December.n To celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight 2008, which runs from 25 February to 9 March, Waitrose is offering customers 20% off selected Fairtrade products. These include Balance Foods Fairtrade Rice Cakes, Doves Farm Flapjacks, Waitrose Organic Fairtrade Fruit and Nuts Chewy Bars and selected Traidcraft Cookies.n UK companies say that a more difficult economy in 2008 is having a direct impact on their efforts to save energy. An annual survey, conducted by YouGov for energy company EON, found that 71% of senior business leaders predict that the UK is either heading for, or already in, a recession and nearly half say that this will impact their ability to be ’greener’ by cutting back on the time and resources they dedicate to saving energy.
It seems fitting that Asda’s Boldon Colliery got the gong for best in-store bakery at BIA07 – gongs being something of a recurring theme at Asda’s in-stores. Remember the advertising campaign earlier this year, featuring Victoria Wood ringing a bell to tell customers that freshly baked bread was on-shelf – part of Asda’s novel approach to promoting its scratch baking? Well that was filmed in Boldon, Asda’s flagship bakery, and deemed the best in-store in the UK by the BIA judges.The ads also featured Wood learning how to bake. Or was that just a bit of ’television magic’? “No she really did!” pleads then co-manager Chris Spoors. “She started at 6am and worked very hard – she genuinely trained on the machines and the mixes.” Woods was seen making tiger breads, bloomers, hot cross buns… but were they any good? “Yeah, she was alright! She said she enjoyed it and we hope she did.”Members of the team appeared in the series of seven adverts, filmed over three days. Unsurprisingly, production was massively affected by the film crew traipsing around the bakery, but that made keeping standards up all the more important. “We’re not just talking one guy and a camera,” he recalls. “We’re talking 40 people walking around the bakery. A lot of hard work went into it: you’re the flagship for the company, you’re trying to promote the baking industry, and so we tried to make sure everything was right.”Boldon was selected because of the high standards recognised by the award, says Spoors. “The Morrisons adverts that came after were nigh on a carbon copy,” he goads, in a light touch of inter-supermarket rivalry. Boldon beat off tough competition from Halfway Morrisons in Sheffield, Tesco Chesterfield and Sainsbury’s London Colney to the title at London’s glitzy Grosvenor House hotel, which “was an excellent experience that everyone enjoyed – everybody wants their 15 minutes of fame. So we’re very proud of that”.Everyone, perhaps, except then co-manager and current manager Ed Turnbull. The epitome of the humble baker, Turnbull was toiling away stock-taking, while his colleagues were glamming it up at the gala event. “I didn’t want to be in the limelight and I was quite happy to stop here and carry the stock-take through,” he remembers. The team, he believes, was picked out as a winner for outstanding hygiene, freshness of product and availability. “There’s not one person that achieves that – it’s the whole team working together.”Spoors also gives huge credit to the team of 45 for embracing the high standards set. “We had a team of eight bakers who were very responsible – eight very good lads who ran the shift when the managers weren’t around. They were the backbone of the bakery. Some of them have been there over 20 years. As a manager you’re not there 24 hours a day, so it’s a case of getting the initial training right and getting the colleagues to understand what’s acceptable and what’s not. You empower them to do the job and have a massive amount of pride in the products they’re producing.”Once you’ve instilled that and you’re carrying out quality checks up to three times a day, the rest falls into place, he says; in turn, sales go up and waste goes down. “If you’re producing a high-quality product and it’s available 100% of the time, once a customer’s got the confidence that they can get what they want when they want, you build up a pretty solid sales pattern. It’s when you’re inconsistent with either your quality or your availability that you cannot judge what you’re going to sell.”Learning centreUp until last month, the in-store was used as a centre of learning – a role that has since shifted to a purpose-built store in Stockton. Turnbull says: “We used to train other managers and bakers and there was prestige with that. Anybody who wanted to be fast-tracked, we could incorporate that in the store.””The whole team had a big passion about passing knowledge on,” adds Spoors, who has since been promoted within Asda. “We trained other managers. We also sent our bakers out to struggling stores, if you like, to get the standards right – the right quality and quantity of product, which is sometimes a problem.”The store, along with Bishop Auckland, will be entrusted with trialling a new line in oven-bottom breads in the region. “There’s a lot more preparation involved and the bread’s a lot more rustic. That might then get rolled out to the region or the whole chain – it’s very early doors,” says Turnbull. Last year, they trialled a cheese stottie, which went into stores across the north east. “We suggest products as well,” adds Spoors. “We made a tiger stottie, which didn’t get through – but it shows our bakers have a lot of creativity.”The 24-hour Boldon store is a biggie, turning over around £2m in a regular week. The in-store bakery, which bakes 24 hours a day, contributes around £30,000 to that and had the biggest sales in the group last year. “Volume-wise there’s no better bakery, and what we tried to do that year – and tried to continue this year – was make sure we were also number one for standards and training. That year was just a fantastic year and it’s something I’ll never forget.”Satisfying enough, it would seem, to endure the bell-ringing with a smile. “Obviously you can attract people to the bakery with the smell, and this was a different take on that, with sound. The customers absolutely loved it. The colleagues weren’t so keen – you hear a bell every 20 minutes in your earhole!”We got people to go to the front of the store to ring the bell for some added theatre, but after a while it got a bit tough to find volunteers! Customers really got a hold of it, though, and it’s something we’re still doing now.”—-=== View from the awards night ===”It was fantastic – I’ve never been to anything like it in my life. I’m a very competitive person, I really am. And we had done everything in our power as a bakery to win the award, so I was relieved when Joanna Lumley announced that we’d won it. But I really thought we did deserve it.”- Chris Spoors, former co-manager of Asda Boldon Colliery’s in-store bakery”As soon as it was announced, Chris was straight on the phone. I was stock-taking at the time and feeling a bit sleepy, and that woke me up!”- Ed Turnbull, current manager—-=== What winning the Délifrance- sponsored In-store Bakery of the Year 2007 meant to us ===Chris Spoors: “That year for the bakery – I don’t think it will ever be equalled. We entered a competition and came first. We were in a TV advertising campaign for the company… It’s the proudest moment of my career that our team won that, and got the recognition of well-respected people in the industry. I’m sure the team are going to pull out all the stops to win it again.”Ed Turnbull: “There was a massive publicity campaign around it – there were banners in the car park saying we were the best in-store, and not just in the company but in the country! We got a lot of positive feedback from our customers – and it was especially good for colleagues’ in-store bakeries. It was very positive, very motivating.”
Greggs has released a strong set of sales figures for the half-year to June.The bakery retailer’s group sales for the 24 weeks to 14 June 2008 were up by 7.7% to £276m (2007: £256m).Pre-tax profit rose 32% to £22.2m. However, pre-tax profit excluding property and exceptional gains dipped by 4.3% to £14.1m.The results are the last to be presented by Greggs’ outgoing managing director Sir Michael Darrington, who’s held the role since 1984.Darrington said the past 12 months had “become more challenging” for business. He added: “For the last two months I have been working alongside our new chief executive Ken McMeikan. This period of collaboration has worked extremely well and, as I hand over my executive responsibilities to him, I feel confident that he will add considerable value through the experience he brings from outside the group. This will complement our established expertise to help build an even stronger business for the future.”Greggs chairman Derek Netherton said: “I would like to record the board’s appreciation of [Darrington’s] truly outstanding contribution to the business over these years. Thanks to his strong leadership and clear vision, the group has grown to become the UK’s leading bakery retailer and has delivered real value to shareholders, employees and the wider community.”
The Fabulous Bakin’ Boys has revamped its impulse range, working on more eye-catching packaging design and recipe reformulation, with artificial additives taken out and more inclusions put in. The range features: Fabulous Flapjacks – made with jumbo oats; Marvelous Muffins, in Sticky Toffee, Double Choc, Cherry and Blueberry varieties; Caramel Shortcake – with more caramel and a new shortcake recipe; Dark Choc Brownie – in a larger portion size; Fairtrade Flapjacks – 50% larger and with new packaging; and new Fruit or Lemon & White Chocolate Loaf Cakes, with a Carrot Cake option coming soon.’’www.bakinboys.co.uk’’
After failing to turn a profit since it opened three years ago, Duchy Originals’ Cornish bakery is to be taken over by Tamar Foods, part of the Samworth Brothers Group, which will produce the brand’s sweet tarts under licence.According to Duchy’s CEO Andrew Baker, the bakery in Launceston has made trading losses in each of the three years it has been open due to a lack of volume. “Tamar Foods has a strong presence in Cornwall and is the right partner to take over our bakery and to work alongside us as one of our producer partners,” he said.Duchy, which was set up by the Prince of Wales in 1990, is currently looking to outsource production of the small amount of savouries, such as pasties, made at the 10,000sq ft site.As well as producing Duchy’s range of sweet tarts, Callington-based Tamar will also add production of its own sweet desserts range to the Launceston bakery, thereby filling some of the spare capacity. Wayne Day, Tamar MD, said: “The bakery is a fantastic production asset to add to our portfolio and will enable us to create one main savoury-focused site [in Callington] in addition to this dedicated satel-lite site for dessert production.”The increased production that Tamar will bring should mean there are very few redundancies among the bakery’s 22 staff, if any at all, said a spokeperson for Duchy.In other news, Waitrose is reportedly in talks to take over Duchy Originals’ operational costs in return for an exclusivity deal on Duchy products.
Brighton-based cake designer Choccywoccydoodah has signed a deal to supply Selfridges’ food halls across the country with a collection of stylish cakes, as well as personalised wedding and celebration cakes.To highlight the collaboration, the company created a seaside-themed cake sculpture, inspired by sailors and mermaids, for a large display in Selfridges’ Oxford Street food hall. Choccywoccydoodah will also sell its cakes in the regional Selfridges stores.The elaborately decorated range includes a chocolate cake, a marshmallow pyramid cake and a boozy chocolate fruit & nut cake, ranging in size from 4in to 6in and in price from £24.99 to £49.99. Wedding and personalised celebration cakes are also available.Choccywoccydoodah, which has a shop and cafe in Brighton, specialises in chocolate one-off ’sculptured fantasies’, bespoke wedding cakes and chocolate gifts. Its cakes and chocolate creations also appeared in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, directed by Tim Burton.
1. The latest trend is ice cream-themed cupcakes: bit.ly/cva37p2. Someone tries and fails to make “tobacco cupcakes”: bit.ly/aiwghw3. Top cupcake-related breakthrough? Lickable paper cupcakes: bit.ly/biYdP14. Cupcake blog that does exactly what it says on the tin: www.cuteboyswithcupcakes.com5. The Guardian’s iffy guide to making the “perfect” fairy cake: bit.ly/cva37pl Follow @Cupcake Week
The Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS) said it has helped 13 bakeries to add £1.9m of value to their bottom lines since it was set up five years ago.The organisation, run by economic development agency Scottish Enterprise, provides direct and practical support to Scotland’s SME manufacturers to improve productivity and generate cost savings. Among the bakery firms it has helped is MacLean’s Highland Bakery, which received support from SMAS while it worked towards BRC accreditation.Overall, SMAS said it has worked on 111 projects with food and drink firms, generating over £12m of productivity benefits.Crawford Gillies, chairman of Scottish Enterprise, said: “With UK manufacturing slowing in September, now is the time for manufacturers to seek more efficiencies and productivity.”