A master-plan to boost skills in the food and drink manufacturing sector is being devised by sector skills council Improve.The Sector Skills Action-plan (SSA), due for launch in January 2007, will set out what needs to be done to alleviate skills shortages, which result in unfilled vacancies and skills gaps.According to Improve chief executive Jack Matthews, the SSA will be the culmination of a year of extensive research and consultation with representatives of employers, public and private training providers, and government departments, all of whom will have to agree to the plan before it can be implemented. “The SSA will be the over-arching guide that determines the entire programme of skills development in the sector,” says Mr Matthews. “It will be the business plan that maps everything we do. The task of devising, managing implementation and continuously developing the SSA is our most important function.”Continuous reviewImprove will be responsible for co-ordinating the effort to put in place required additional training to meet the plan’s objectives, he adds. Over time, the SSA will be subject to continuous review in response to employers’ changing needs.“While we work through the comprehensive programme of drafting the plan, we are not holding back on implementing some of the more wide-ranging elements that are already agreed – such as the establishment of a National Skills Academy, the introduction of the Green Card passport to skills, the overhaul of Apprenticeship Frameworks and the establishment of a new, co-ordinated Qualifications Framework through implementation of our Sector Qualifications Strategy,” says Mr Matthews. “This is the first time the sector has had the opportunity to have a properly co-ordinated plan to boost skills in order to drive up productivity and profitability.”GCSEs equivalentIn related news, 14-year-old school pupils will soon be able to sign up for the first Young Apprenticeship in Food and Drink Manufacturing, the equivalent of four good GCSEs. Improve has steered the development of the two-year programme, which will allow students to spend two days a week combining studies at a local college and work experience with local employers. The other three days of the week will be spent at school, studying the national curriculum in subjects such as English, maths and information and communication technology.Initially, three partnerships – at New Primebake in Cheshire; Smiths Flour Mills in Nottinghamshire; and Crown, Carman’s and Carrot Cake in Suffolk – have had government funding awarded to offer 80 Young Apprenticeships in Food and Drink from September 2006. Improve provided support and advice to all three partnerships in their bid to secure funding and will continue to work with them.Next year, the three partnerships will have the opportunity to bid for further funding to enable them to offer more students an apprenticeship programme. Improve development director Derek Williams says: “This is the first time young people of this age will be able to gain such a wide range of skills and knowledge relevant to food and drink manufacturing. For further information on Improve’s activities go to: www.improveltd.co.uk
Retail baker Oliver Adams pressed two vintage buses into service in Northampton town centre this month, as it celebrated its 150th anniversary and launched new branding.Two vintage buses from 1947 and 1964, with Adams bread advertisements from the 1950s on the side, were used to give the public free rides to mark the occasion. Thomas Adams, MD and the fifth generation of the Adams family in the 21-shop business, said the celebrations also highlighted a new look for Adams. The retail bakery’s shops are being refurbished and rebranded with subtle changes to lettering and colours. Mr Adams told British Baker: “We decided our image was a bit dated when we took a cold hard look at it. We have given it a more modern twist, evolved from the previous look, with different lettering. We believe that if you have a modern bright clean shop there is always going to be a place for you on the high street, even if you are competing against people who are selling on price.”Delivery vans and packaging have also been updated, he said. Adams, established in 1856, is believed to be one of Northampton’s oldest firms.
This is a variation of a classic dessert, which makes a perfect light summer treat. It is made using a stiff meringue mix, which can be easily piped into shape. We sell our Pavlova for £17. Ingredients for the meringue1/3 egg white2/3 caster sugar 1 Mark out 10-inch circles on silicon paper. Starting at the centre, use a piping bag and pipe out a tight spiral of meringue until it covers the whole of the circle.2 Pipe out a layer of blobs just touching each other around the top of the edge of the piped base. Try to ensure that they are evenly sized.3 Pipe out a second layer of blobs on top of the first layer so they interlock.4 Bake in a low oven (130ºC) until completely dry and crisp.5 Brush the inside of the cooked base with melted chocolate. This keeps the meringue crisp.6 Carefully fill the base with fruits of the forest mix. Unifine fruits of the forest fond is a superb product to use for this. You just mix the powder with hot water and add it to whipped cream.7 Spread out carefully with a palette knife so that it is slightly domed.8 Place a thin layer (8mm) of sponge over the cream and soak the sponge evenly with syrup (we flavour ours with Grand Marnier).9 Spread a thin layer of fruits of the forest fruit filling over the sponge (this is optional).10 Decorate with chunks of fruit and glaze with an apricot gel. VariationsTry different seasonal fruit toppings and different flavoured creams. Whipped cream filling topped with strawberries is very popular.The bases can be made in different sizes and can be made as individual desserts or even a stunning wedding cake. n
The new ’chameleon cup’ from Tri-Star Packaging will change colour when filled with a hot drink.The colour-changing disposable cup is made from single walled cardboard and is available in 8, 12 and 16oz sizes. MD Kevin Curran said: “The change in colour means people really notice whatever’s printed on it, opening up brand-building possibilities for outlets selling hot drinks to go.”Tri-Star said retailers can use the cups to draw attention to special offers, make a logo appear when the drink is poured in, or put games on it. Added Curran: “One idea was to print a game of Sudoko on the cup. When the hot drink is poured into the cup, the numbers disappear and the customer can try to solve the puzzle before they finish the drink.”’’www.tri-star.co.uk’’
The National Minimum Wage will rise to £5.80 per hour from October this year, for workers aged 22 and over, the government announced last week. This is a 7p increase per hour on the current rate of £5.73 – a rise of 1.2%.For 18- to 22-year-olds the rate will increase by 6p to £4.83, and by 4p to £3.57 for 16- and 17-year-olds.Gill Brooks-Lonican, chief executive of the National Association of Master Bakers, said the increase “won’t do craft bakeries any good at all”, and favours a freeze on wage increases during the recession. “So many bakeries are really feeling the results of the recession; it’s absolutely crazy,” she added.The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has also said a National Minimum Wage freeze would have been more helpful for businesses. “We pressed for a freeze to the minimum wage because of the severity of the economic downturn, as well as the daily loss of jobs,” said director general of the BCC David Frost.The Confederation of British Industry, however, has welcomed the rate change.From October 2010, the top National Minimum Wage rate will be extended to include 21-year-olds.
Ocean Spray’s ingredient technology group is to launch a new sweetened dried cranberry (SDC) the Whole SDC at the Fi Europe show in Germany this November. It has been developed in response to a demand from snack and confectionery manufacturers for larger fruit piece sizes.”One of the key benefits of our SDC range is its versatility. We have a range of moisture contents and sizes, from sliced for larger bakery applications to double-diced for cereal bars, for example, so we’re pleased to be able to complete the offering with the Whole SDC,” commented Kristen Borsari, global senior marketing manager.
Britain’s billboard owners must love the Food Standards Agency. The wallpaper paste had barely dried on posters urging the public to watch their saturated fat intake by cutting back on biscuits, cakes and pastries when the government agency rolled out a new advertising blitz this month encouraging shoppers to check the labels of bread, pizza and sandwiches for salt content.The baking industry might not agree with the FSA’s campaigning ways (see p14), but the measures will certainly help focus the minds of bakery NPD teams and brand managers on health. According to Neal Cavalier-Smith, a brand strategist at the Healthy Marketing Team, consumer attitudes have changed when it comes to health and food a fact that NPD teams would do well to take on board.”Food companies have spent millions coming up with fancy new ingredients and fortifying products to make them healthier, but consumers are looking for naturally healthy ingredients, which make them feel better about themselves and have an ethical dimension,” he says. “They don’t want products that have been messed about with by scientists. If a bakery company’s response to the FSA is to turn to the laboratory for answers, they are heading in the wrong direction. They should be looking in their kitchen cupboards for familiar ingredients that their grandma would have used.”Healthy synergyThe problem with this is that grandma probably had a lot of salt and butter in her kitchen cupboard ingredients that are directly in the FSA’s firing line and are difficult to replace without using ’man-made’ ingredients that consumers do not trust. While this presents challenges to NPD, there are ways to overcome them. Bakery consultant Wayne Caddy says using different types of flour, such as rye and malted flours, in lower salt breads helps compensate for loss of flavour. Meanwhile, liquid and dried sourdoughs can also add flavour and extend shelf-life.”More needs to be done to get the message across that bread is a naturally healthy product that is rich in minerals and nutrients. There’s a close synergy between bread and healthy eating, especially when you start adding wholegrains, seeds, fruit and nuts,” he says. “There are also opportunities to make more of the provenance of these ingredients where they come from and who makes them.”Marketing cakes, biscuits and savouries as healthy products is obviously more problematic these are products that are by their very nature seen as naughty treats but the same principles of using natural ingredients still applies, according to John Haynes, MD of bakery consultancy JRH Associates.”Nuts, seeds and dried fruit these are the kinds of ingredients that need to be used more in cakes to give them a healthier image,” he says. “With savouries like sausage rolls manufacturers can use a higher meat content, with leaner cuts and less pastry, but of course that all adds to the cost.” One of the easiest ways to cut fat, salt and sugar levels, he adds, is to reduce portion size. Reduce a pasty from 500g to 400g, for example, and you have immediately made a 20% reduction.This is an idea that is picked up by Angela Mitton of NPD consultancy Beetroot and Orange. “It’s a lot easier to bring down saturated fat levels in, say, a meat pie by reducing portion size. Who really knows how big a portion size actually is?” she asks.Giving people less for their money might sound like commercial suicide, but clever marketing can actually turn it into a strength. Highlighting that a product is ’only 99 calories’, for example, gives consumers “permission” to buy, explains Neal Cavalier-Smith.In other words, people like to be able to justify their decision to indulge. “It doesn’t have to be reduced portion size, it could be the addition of superfruits or making reference to wholesome, natural ingredients,” he says. “Producers need to get into consumers’ headspace and think about how they think about health.”
When it comes to pastry, Pidy may not be the most recognised name in the UK, but this looks set to change as the Belgium-based firm embarks on expansion this side of the channel. Based in the once war-torn town of Ypres, the company already produces pastry products in as many sizes and shapes as you could imagine, so you might think NPD could pose a problem but you’d be wrong. Pidy, an acronym for Patisserie Industrielle Dehaeck Ypres, is an independent family business, set up in 1967 by the late pastry baker Andre Dehaeck , the father of current chairman Thierry. While working at the family bakery and patisserie, he secured his first business customer when approached by a lady from Gant, who had a wine and cheese shop and was interested in selling his pastry products to complement her offering. He also discovered a market for gift-packs of unfilled pastry, which were purchased by tourists visiting the battlefields surrounding Ypres. Enquiries from wholesalers then started rolling in, and the business grew and grew, with the company’s first production unit created in a bakery of only 520sq m. A series of acquisitions and a number of years later, Pidy now produces over 300 million pieces per year, from its three production sites in Ypres, Halluin in France and Inwood, USA.Foodservice has been its core business since it began in the 1960s, but Pidy also manufactures ready-to-fill pastry products for sectors including manufacturing and industrial; contract and event catering; cash-and-carry; and retail. It produces six different types of dough: puff pastry, shortcrust dough, choux buns, sponge dough, pâte à foncer (the French version of a basic pie dough, but with an extra-fine texture) and croustade.For the production of its puff pastry Pidy uses both the French and Dutch method of production. With the French method, the fat is placed between the layers of dough, whereas with the Dutch method the fat is mixed with the dough and then layered. As an example of output, the Ypres factory produces approximately 29,500 pieces of its 4.5cm sized bouchées similar to a vol-au-vent an hour. Pidy already has a presence in the UK, with ambient products in Brakes, its biggest foodservice customer. It also supplies Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Harrods, Waitrose, Délifrance and Spar. But the firm isn’t as well represented on the high street and has put the wheels in motion to change this. Recently appointed UK general manager Robert Whittle says the firm sees an opportunity to increase its presence in high street bakeries, patisseries and cafés. “We’re also looking to talk to the likes of Pret A Manger and Starbucks in the UK and Europe,” he adds. Whittle’s aim is to double the firm’s overall growth in the UK over a period of two years, which will involve expansion in the majority of the markets in which it operates, not just bakery retail.The majority of the sales thrust in the UK bakery and café sector will be through targeted product launches. These have been designed to address problems such as lack of time, space and skilled staff, as well as the view that sales are often made based on the visual appeal of products. Pidy has already launched easy-to-use kits, such as Tarto Presto. This contains pastry tartelettes and crème patissière, which can be combined with fruits or chocolate, for example, to create eye-catching “window candy”, says Whittle. Pidy is hoping to introduce other kits as well and Whittle says plans are already afoot, although “still under wraps”, to join forces with partners in the industry. “We see an opportunity to increase our presence in independent bakeries by working with partner companies, such as Unifine, to get our products to that market,” he explains.Chairman Thierry Dehaeck says that “finding skilled staff is getting to be a nightmare” and that products such as Pidy’s pastry cases can be promoted as “a perfect substitute for a handmade product”, leaving the baker time to concentrate on the filling and presentation.”We can also offer frozen dough to the UK bakery sector, as we now have adequate storage facilities we haven’t had the capability to do this before,” says Whittle, adding that the firm is currently in talks with Brakes about distributing its frozen range. Dehaeck says that although the company has competitors, when comparing individual types of pastry, there are no other companies that have the ’all-under-one-roof’ claim. “Pidy is at an advantage as it manufactures such a variety of products,” he adds.Moreover, the company certainly hasn’t been resting on its laurels when it comes to innovation. With around 30 new product launches in the last year, and plenty more to come, how does it come up with new ideas? “Question everything this is the most important thing,” answers Dehaeck. To rethink and optimise the original idea, to reshape any shape and to apply trends proactively, are key parts of Pidy’s new product development. But it’s not enough just to sell the products, you need to sell the ideas to go with it, adds Dehaeck.Pidy likes to be ahead of the game. “We are focused on quality and customer-driven thinking. We always try to be proactive,” explains corporate sales director Robin Van Oudenhove. For example, the firm introduced products containing non-hydrogenated fat around two years ago, despite that fact it isn’t a necessary requirement in Belgium, he explains. Areas the company is now looking at include low-fat and gluten-free options. “If we can have a production facility ahead of a competitor in terms of trends, then we’re at an advantage,” explains Dehaeck.Recent innovation includes the creation of a vol-au-vent that keeps its crispiness without needing to be reheated; a tart with a vegetable coating that stops it going soggy and allows users to prepare finished products in advance; and canapé products such as mini-cones and ’spoonettes’ an area Dehaeck says is seeing real growth in the UK. However, in one case, its recently launched edible coffee cups needed to come with a warning. Oudenhove explains that at a trade show in Dubai, a gentlemen decked out entirely in white took a bite out of the pastry cup before he had finished drinking the coffee and ended up wearing it instead.The family aspect of the business is very important to Dehaeck, who says the secret to keeping your staff happy and retaining them is by listening to what they have to say. And as some of his employees have worked at the company for over 25 years, that philosophy appears to be working.
Whitworth roleIndependent specialist flour miller Whitworth Bros has appointed Kim Little as its new technical accounts manager. Little previously worked at Campden BRI since 1987 as the senior bakery technologist in its Baking & Cereal Processing department. She has also worked as a consultant for bakeries in the UK and overseas.Peck & Strong onlineDevon-based Peck & Strong has said it hopes to be busier than ever this year, following the launch of its new website before Christmas, and the unveiling of point-of-sale (POS) aids and A5 posters this month. The POS material promotes the fact the firm is actively reducing and offsetting its carbon footprint, and founder John Peck said he has noticed increased sales since its launch.Warburtons’ birthdayWarburtons recently celebrated 25 years of distribution from its Runcorn depot. To mark its silver anniversary, Warburtons is to donate £250 to four different local community projects or charities. Gary Thornhill, the depot’s longest-serving employee was presented with a glass plaque, by executive director Brett Warburton at the celebrations.Top sales for ToppingDoncaster-based The Topping Pie Company has announced that its sales rocketed by 53% over the Christmas trading period, and has also noticed trade sales have been up 30% in the first weeks of 2010. The family-run firm, which also supplies Asda, sold more than 80,000 premium pies over the festive period. Its new handcrafted Christmas pie range was launched in recyclable boxes for the first time in Booths stores, and has already proved popular with consumers.
The Richemont Bakery School in Lucerne, Switzerland, is to host a special course on decorative breads, marzipan modelling and chocolates, from 17-21 October.The course, which will be in English, is being run in conjunction with the Worshipful Company of Bakers and the Bakers’ Company Education and Research Foundation London.The trip also includes a guided tour of bakery shops and chocolatiers in the area.The course costs £1,398.25 (inc. VAT) which includes tuition fees, course book, and four nights’ accommodation, but excludes all travel.Contact the clerk at The Worshipful Company of Bakers on 020 7623 2223 or email [email protected]