Associated British Foods said the market for gas is not operating as intended, as it complained of rising energy prices at its Annual General Meeting on December 9. Chairman Martin Adamson said the market for gas had “simply failed to operate in the way intended”. He commented: “For example, last week, despite sharply higher prices, the main gas pipeline from Europe operated at substantially below capacity and stocks consequently reduced further. If supplies to the industry had failed, this would have had serious consequences for the industry and customers alike.”The company, which operates businesses including AB Mauri, British Sugar and Allied Bakeries, said overall trading in the early part of the current year has been a little ahead of the previous year. But competition in all ABF markets is strong and the current trend in energy prices is a particular concern, said Mr Adamson.ABF spent a total of £1.5 billion on renewing plant and machinery over the year, expanding capacity and buying new businesses. Some £733m was spent on acquiring new businesses, of which the major part was in the yeast and bakery ingredients business that is now trading as AB Mauri.Mr Adamson also referred to the proposed reform of the EU sugar regime as he made his presentation to sharehol-ders. An agreement, reached by the Council of Ministers on November 24 in Brussels, is welcomed by British Sugar, as it is one of the most efficient producers in the EU, he said. “We envisage a continuing successful role for British Sugar which will be supported with investment, where appropriate, as it adapts to the new environment,” he commented.The outcome is expected to be slightly better at the end of the period of transition than the £40m reduction in profit, which was estimated in June 2005 in response to the Commission’s first proposals, he said.Trading in the current year for British Sugar UK and Poland has been difficult, added Mr Adamson. “We expect volatility to continue during the transition to the new EU regime. We continue to work on cost reductions in both the UK and Poland and the exploitation of new revenue opportunities including the manufacture of bioethanol in the UK,” he concluded.
Interbake (Bury, Lancashire) has introduced the Cream King Eco 3.0 whipping machine.Made by German firm Hagesana, the machine enables users to hygienically whip and aerate fresh or synthetic cream, while a built-in cooling system keeps cream chilled in warm bakery environments, ensuring stability and freshness. “Chilled cold air is piped into the base of the machine, where a perforated bucket permits air bubbles to rise through the cream, while it is being hygienically agitated,” says Interbake.
The Federation of Bakers expects delays in resolving two legislative issues facing the sector – folic acid fortification and bread weights regulation. Director Gordon Polson told British Baker he anticipates a two-month delay before a public consultation into the possible fortification of flour with folic acid starts in the UK. This had been due to start in May, but has been postponed to give the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) Advisory Committee on Nutrition time to review scientific evidence on potential risks and benefits of increased folic acid intake.Its review will be used by the FSA to inform its recommendations to health ministers on measures to prevent folate and neural tube defect prevention, including the possible fortification of flour.Meanwhile, the EU Nominal Quantities Directive, which covers deregulation of bread weights legislation, is yet to be finalised. Currently, bread above 300g in weight has to be sold in set weights – 400g, 800g and 1,200g. The European Parliament voted in February this year to exclude “pre-packed bread, spreadable fats or tea” from the scope of the directive. For these products, national rules on nominal quantities would continue to apply, it said. However, in April the European Council disagreed and said it was still in favour of deregulation. Gordon Polson said: “It is still a watching brief. We have no clear idea of timescales. This will not be resolved under the six-month Austrian presidency of the EU, which is coming to an end. Finland is next to take the presidency in July, but there is no suggestion that it will make a priority of the issue.”Separately, the European Parliament last week backed an agreement that will lay down conditions for the use of nutrition claims such as ‘low fat’, ‘high fibre’ or ‘reduced sugar’. This sets thresholds for the claims to apply. For example, ‘high fibre’ products must have 6g or more of fibre per 100g. Non-packaged products, including unwrapped breads, are exempted.
A trusted name, a universal oven and an ability to last for at least 20 years, are just some of the reasons Adrian Mitchell, Duchy Originals’ manufacturing manager, chose Double D’s (Broxburn, West Lothian) rack ovens for its first bakery production unit in Launceston, Cornwall, last year. “We’re not a big plant bakery, but the Double D rack ovens match the scale of what we’re doing – targeting a niche market with a new range of organic pastry products, a line which we discovered wasn’t viable for larger manufacturers,” Mitchell says.== GAP IN THE MARKET ==Duchy Originals works with around 30 partner licensees which produce a range of bakery products all carrying The Prince of Wales’s seal. Duchy Originals spotted a gap in the market for organic pastry products, and so launched the organic range, which includes four 7.5-inch tarts in lemon, chocolate, Bakewell and treacle, mini jam and lemon curd tarts, Cornish pasties and cheese-based flans.Following initial training and familiarisation with the Revorack oven’s technology, including the CCS I controller, the staff at the bakery now operate 20 different baking programmes, designed to give the desired bake for each product, or product stage.”The Revorack ovens include a sophisticated airflow system, which gives consistency and can continually be fine-tuned,” says Mitchell. “We blind bake all pastry cases, then fill them and bake them again to achieve the premium product we’re looking for. The technology allows us to accurately control every aspect of each bake, so we always know what to expect. Also, we commissioned two-door ovens so we have controls on both sides, which makes the baking process more efficient.”It’s still relatively early days for the new bakery and the Revorack ovens are in use up to six hours a day, leaving plenty of capacity for baking further organic product lines, including meat pies, which are due to be launched before the year end.== range development ==”There has been a lot of work to get to this stage, but we’re now comfortable with the product and, coupled with the Revorack ovens’ technology, we’re looking forward to developing the range further,” adds Mitchell.Like all Double D products, the Revorack oven can be custom-built and comes in a range of sizes, from the compact single-rack up to 10-rack capacity, including high-volume dedicated ovens for pie, savoury and quiche production, says the firm. Double D believes it is worth investing time in finding exactly the right oven to suit each customer’s requirements. The company says it has been host to bakers from all over the world who visit Double D’s test centre near Edinburgh to trial the company’s products using their own recipes
The move in Brussels to abolish national legislation on prescribed quantities for pre-packed products, such as bread, was a hot topic for bakers in 2006, and will continue to be so this year.Prescribed quantities for bread have a long history in the UK, stretching back well beyond current legislation. They have played a well-recognised role for many years, protecting against misleading or confusing sizes particularly for the elderly and, for example, the visually impaired.At present, loaves of bread weighing above 300g must be sold in prescribed weights of 400g, 800g or 1,200g to help consumers compare like with like. Under a proposed European directive, such controls would only apply to wines, spirits, coffee, milk, butter, dried pasta and white sugar.The Federation of Bakers (FoB) believes deregulation would open the door to potential mis-selling and consumer confusion, where a loaf may look the same size but actually weighs less than a traditional loaf.In February 2006, the FoB won a major victory when we managed to get an amendment tabled to the directive which would allow member states in certain product categories to retain national weight legislation. But there is still much work to be done. The European Council is currently passing its consultation on prescribed quantities to the European Parliament, which is set to vote on the issue in March. So watch this space.
George Saunders,George Saunders, known to some in the industry as Luca Tsoundas, died suddenly on 6 January, writes Ian Melling of IMA Food Equipment.He leaves a widow, Jane, and two daughters.George was a long-time colleague of mine from the days when he worked as a bakery engineer for Record, where he was employed for over 20 years.After the demise of Record and CBS, he set up on his own as a freelance engineer, covering mainly the south-east of England and was closely involved with IMA Food Equipment, where he will be sorely missed.George Saunders was known for his cheerful demeanour and willingness to help anyone in trouble.All those who knew him will miss him greatly.
The Village Bakery in Melmerby, Cumbria, has announced that it will package its bread range in biodegradable and compostable bags.Lindsay Williams, Village Bakery marketing manager, said: “Our entire range is organic and we are working hard to make all our cardboard packaging recycled and recyclable, so we are delighted to now have compostable bread bags.”It is a big step forward and will have a positive environmental effect,” she added.According to the organic bakery, the new bread packaging is made from Mater-bi film that will break down to carbon dioxide, water and organic humus with no toxic residue.All of the Village Bakery packaging is currently being revamped. The new bread packaging communicates to customers that the bread bags are compostable while giving the range a fresh new look.”The new bags will have greater on-shelf presence and will bring the bread bags in line with the rest of the new look,” Williams added.Two new breads will also be added to the company’s range: Honey and Sunflower Bread and Spelt Bread.The Village Bakery in Melmerby produces a range of cakes, biscuits and breads. Products are baked using renewable energy and all cardboard packaging is recycled and recyclable.According to the company, the boxes it uses are printed on 95% recycled board and the remaining 5% is made up of virgin fibres, which are sourced from a mill that supports responsible forest management.
Where do you go for the taste of authentic Parisian artisanal bread? Middlesex would not be many people’s number-two destination on this front. But in Upminster, you will find a self-proclaimed sourdough “mini revolution” under way. (Any sightings of Frenchmen roaming the countryside wielding their baguettes in an aggressive manner are purely coincidental.)Wholesale baker Boulangerie de Paris is the brainchild of Amar Chibane, who has spent the last 11 years training and baking, with tutelage under a master baker in Paris, as well as work in London. “I’m not really pretentious, but I’ve taken all the knowledge I need from Paris, learning every day, day after day, and my experience has improved. I have a lot of ambition here in London to explain my little revolution in bread, which is the philosophy of Boulangerie de Paris – to change people.”Now he wants to be the baker of choice for the capital’s top restaurants. The breads have a minimum eight-hour fermentation for each piece, which are made using organic French flours, some stoneground; all water used is filtered.With a 30-strong list of sourdoughs, isn’t that a nightmare to manage daily? “Not at all. When you have good organisation, it is nothing,” he shrugs. He even insists the process doesn’t have to hit the price tag: the bakery’s launch price list included an 800g rye raisin loaf at a bargain £2.10.”I am not going into business to make lots of money,” he reasons. “If I wanted that, I’d open a small shop in London.” And he’s not going to be shipping French reserves over to fill the skills gaps – the idea is to train people up and spread the word. “If you are motivated to learn, then I say, ’Come, my friend, and you will work and you will learn’.”—-=== Going it alone ===The business: Boulangerie de Paris, 26 Riverside Way, Uxbridge UB8 2YFOwnership: three partners, with the bakery run by Amar ChibaneBrief: to be the number one bread supplier into top London restaurants, with the likes of Bacchus and Sketch already signed upCost of start-up: £100,000Biggest outlay: a Spanish-made wood-fired oven at E50,000 (£39,733). “The bread takes the calcium and magnesium from the wood,” says Chibane. “It makes a difference with the colour of the bread and a really thin crust. The taste is totally beautiful.”Other kit: a spiral mixer will raise the temperature of the sourdough, but the slow-motion Axe Oblique mixer keeps it closer to 24?C, which Chibane claims is the ideal temperature. “If you are working a sourdough with a spiral mixer, it is pointless, because you will kill your sourdough.”Breads: 100% sourdough baguettes, fruit and nut breads, rye and French/Italian speciality breads. One of the most requested loaves in the UK has been a Fig Campagne, made with organic figsCapacity: “The biggest fear from customers is that our bread is so good,” says partner Fouahde Belaid, “that we’ll end up making much more bread and lose the quality; but we’ve pledged we won’t make more than 2,000 pieces a day. If we do grow we’ll have to be sure we’ll keep the quality. Otherwise, we’ll stay small and open a shop.”Contact: 07882 164860—-=== The pros and cons ===Niggling headachesPutting together the marketing materials: “I am only 26 years old, and I am very passionate. But it is really hard for me because my English is really bad! My business partner works in PR – he got on the phone and delivered samples and we had 20 restaurants taking our bread straight away. We’re staying really focused about the organisation, and we’re growing bit by bit, step by step, because I want to keep this quality of bread.”Grand ambitionsInstigating a revolution: “I want to take fresh bread to the people. With a lot of bread in London, you think it’s fresh but it’s frozen. I want a mini-revolution. Because I really love my job, I’m a proper baker, I take these breads home and I break my teeth – it makes me upset! I really want to explain my philosophy, to scream it!”
Edible glimmering pigment powder from Cream Supplies is designed to add a bit of sparkle to your Christmas products.The Perlazoon powder can be added to cakes, biscuits and desserts and is available in either gold or red varieties. It can either be sprinkled on to the tops of cupcakes or whole cakes, for example, or can be mixed with vodka (which evaporates quickly) to form a paste which can then be painted on.The powder comes in 300g tubs, with a list price of £8.50.
Kampffmeyer Food Innovation launched a new type of bran at the HiE (Health Ingredients Europe) exhibition in Madrid last month. Softbran Don Minus is milder in taste and displays a significantly better mouthfeel than conventional bran products, but has the same dietary fibre value, according to the firm.Softbran Don Minus is a milled product made from germinable, healthy wheat. “While conventional bran displays a bitter taste and a rough, coarse structure, these disadvantages do not occur with Softbran Don Minus,” said the firm, which claimed it can replace conventional bran in formulations easily and without further modifications. “It is especially suitable for fine baked goods such as bread for toasting.”In trials, bread (for toasting) which contained 5% Softbran Don Minus was described as aromatic and slightly nutty, with a fresh wholegrain taste, while the equivalent product with 5% conventional bran was perceived as neutral, plain, scratchy, spotty, slightly sweet and musty.