Hartlepool-based frozen desserts company Bonne Bouche is being restructured by the venture capitalists that back it.The company’s founder and managing director Wayne Hitchman has left in the shake-up, and a number of board-level and less senior management changes are pending. Reports suggest Bonne Bouche is being run by its financial director Richard Dean and its sales and marketing director Andrew Wilkinson.Financial director Richard Dean told British Baker the company did not wish to comment as it consulted with staff and unions on the restructure. The company is holding emergency talks with the Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union over 29 proposed job cuts at the plant. It plans to axe 18 management and 11 factory floor jobs, union representative Alan Milne told British Baker. He said the union is negotiating to reduce the job cuts. The consultation is expected to conclude by Christmas. Mr Milne said he understands Bonne Bouche’s problems were caused by price pressure from the supermarkets, which demanded excessive discounts. Bonne Bouche currently has 300 staff involved in the production and hand-finishing of cakes. It supplies retail and foodservice outlets with offerings, such as gateaux, sponges, fudge cakes and cheesecakes and puddings, as well as speciality and premium cake and dessert lines. The company was created by Wayne Hitchman who headed a management buyout of Freshbake Foods in July 2004. The deal was the third change of ownership for the site in seven months and its second rescue from administration.Freshbake survived just six months. It was originally formed in January, through the buy-out of a Hibernia Foods factory, after Hibernia went into receivership in October, 2003, with debts of £17.5m. Mr Hitchman had planned to produce more added-value offerings to fit the profile of Tesco’s Finest and Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference lines. He had also planned to develop a range of fat-free products.
CF Controls (Avonmouth, Bristol) has deve-loped a system for checking the colour and height of products including buns, biscuits, cakes, pizza bases and bread. The system measures and records heights to an accuracy of 1mm, while software analyses the colour of each product and categorises the results into one of five groups, from too dark to too light. Colour is recorded by high-resolution 24-bit colour cameras and height is measured by lasers linked to a computer. The lasers mea-sure average height, with highest and lowest points. These criteria are compared to the pre-set parameters of the computer. All product is scanned and non-conforming product is removed by a reject mechanism. The package is controlled by a PC using Microsoft Windows. This enables production information to be gathered and exported to Microsoft Excel or Access in real-time over an ethernet network.CF Controls says the system can be fitted after the prover or oven stage, and it is easy to set up for new products.
The real weakness in the case of adding folic acid to flour or bread is that it reeks of mass-medication for a problem that may affect a miniscule number of women of childbearing age and their offspring.It has no relevance in medical terms for the male population, children, most young women or women who have reached the menopause. It can disturb the vitamin B balance and enough has already been said about masking B12 deficiency.If the ’Staff of Life’ is to be used as a vehicle that provides for the minority, how long will it be before statins are added for the heart, ibuprofen for rheumatoid arthritis, and aspirin for headaches? Now there’s a thought for a money-saving NHS project covering a huge amount of the population.Seriously, though, if folic acid has to be added, then it should be declared along with the other B vitamins and minerals, which are added to replace those extracted during the milling process to produce an otherwise devitalised white flour. Again, if it is added, then surely it must be at the milling stage, as the process will be too hit and miss with bakers.Finally, for goodness’ (literally) sake, do not include it in wholemeal flour and certainly not organic wholemeal. At least let the purists among us have bread that hasn’t been tampered with.Ray Hill,Sunshine Craft Bakery,Stroud, GloucestershireIf you would like to air your views on this topic or any other talking points of the baking industry, then please write to British Baker or email [email protected]
The success of Britain’s bakery sector is built around a strong, mutually beneficial relationship with the major supermarkets.Last week, on these pages, it was reported that a recent survey of UK food suppliers had revealed that 83% of company directors expected to see more firms within their sector go out of business. Much of the blame for this, according to Grant Thornton, the company which carried out the survey, rests with the big supermarkets. Rubbish!Earlier this year, the Competition Commission, reporting on its exhaustive and continuing investigation into the grocery sector, stated that there was “little evidence of any ongoing decline in profits” for manufacturers and processors.In fact, on the three occasions over the past eight years that the Commission has investigated the grocery sector, it has failed to unearth any evidence to support claims that retailers are using their position to profit at the expense of their suppliers. The scale economies arising from increasing market shares have been passed on to consumers in lower prices and product innovation.It is somewhat surprising, then, that Grant Thornton, from a survey of just 50 suppliers, has been able to draw such simplistic conclusions about the state of the grocery market and the relationship between retailers and their suppliers. The reality is that the majority of suppliers enjoy mutually advantageous working relationships with supermarkets.Indeed, the Competition Commission’s own, much more extensive survey of suppliers suggests that supply relationships are generally positive, with 94% of respondents saying they believe they will still be in business in five years’ time and 80% saying they have been able to invest in their businesses in the past two years. That is not indicative of a supply chain breaking under pressure. In the bakery market, the share of retailers’ own-brand products in total sales has been halted and reversed by the big manufacturers, through product individuality and aggressive marketing.Supermarkets know that if they put their suppliers under pressure, it restricts investment and stifles innovation, which is why they aim to foster long-term constructive relationships.One of the things the bakery sector has been able to do well in recent years is innovate to meet the changing tastes of consumers. Bakers were among the swiftest to recognise and react to consumers’ growing interest in health and nutrition, developing new brands and premium and speciality product lines to meet the demand for something different. Super- markets have supported and encouraged this strategy.The supermarkets’ main aim is to serve their customers, which is best done by creating a viable, innovative and competitive supply chain. This is the only way to deliver the choice, quality and innovation that consumers demand.There will always be arguments between supermarkets and their suppliers over terms and conditions, as there are in all supply chains, but supermarkets recognise that treating suppliers badly is bad business, which is why both parties seek, and generally enjoy, mutually beneficial relationships. n
Bakers across the UK have been signing up for this year’s National Doughnut Week and are urging others to take part with ideas on how to maximise sales.Kim Cowley of Warings Bakery chain in Berkshire has taken part every year since Doughnut Week began. Soon to open its sixth store, the chain gets everyone involved, with employees dressing up as popular children’s characters and linking with local radio to create competitions, offering a baker’s dozen of doughnuts every day. “Every year we try to create special limited-edition doughnuts for our customers and look forward to the weird creations that are requested,” said Cowley.NA president Mike Holling of Birds the Confectioners in Derby said it is a great week for team-building: “Every baker should have a go. It doesn’t take a lot of effort, thanks to all the support provided by sponsor BakeMark, and every year for the last five years, we have increased the amount of funds raised.”His recommendations are fancy dress and lots of cream, caramel and jam doughnuts.National Doughnut Week runs from 10-17 May and raises money for the Children’s Trust. It offers craft bakers a chance to increase sales while raising money for charity. This year, all participating bakers will be entered into a draw to win a trip for two to London. The winner will visit The Children’s Trust to see how the money raised is spent before being treated to dinner and an overnight stay in a top London hotel. For more information email: [email protected]
Icelandic company Bakkavör Group has said it will close its UK pasta plant in Scunthorpe by the end of the month. The closure may lead to the loss of 107 jobs, according to local press reports.The firm reportedly blamed the decision on the increased cost of raw materials and a declining market.The reports add that Bakkavör completed a 90-day consultation process, but was unable to find an alternative to closure.The news comes only three weeks after Bakkavör announced it had made two acquisitions: a 45% share in Hong Kong’s leading producer of premium bakery and pastry products, La Rose Noire; and Italpizza, an Italian pizza maker, as reported by Flexnews.
Simple Simon’s Perfect Pies has announced its pie range for the Christmas season.Festive fillings include: strips of Gressingham duck breast with black cherry & port wine sauce; turkey fillets with sage & white wine sauce with fresh cranberries; honeyed venison collops, and organic Aberdeen Angus beef with wild mushrooms and Speyside malt whisky.Also available is a mincemeat & apple pie, and rich chocolate & morello cherry pie.Simple Simon’s pies are free of artificial additives and use fresh, local ingredients, including organic meat. They are freshly baked, despatched by courier on the same day and have a minimum shelf life of six days.The pies can also be frozen for a recommended maximum of two months.[http://www.simplesimonspies.co.uk]
You only have until tomorrow (Friday 15 May) to get your entries in for the Baking Industry Awards, so send them in now! Make sure you don’t miss out on the opportunity to shine at the industry’s most prestigious annual event. This year’s awards will be held at the Park Lane Hilton in London on 8 September and will be hosted by comedy legend Ronnie Corbett.The full list of award categories is: The Customer Focus Award, The Craft Business Award, Celebration Cake Maker of the Year, Baker of the Year, The Achievement in Bakery Training Award, Artisanal Bread Product of the Year, Bakery Food Manufacturer of the Year, Bakery Supplier of the Year, The Innovation Award, Trainee Baker of the Year and The In-Store Bakery Award, which has an extended entry deadline of 1 June.To get hold of an entry form call Helen Law on 01293 846587 or email [email protected] Alternatively you can download a form at www.bakeryawards.co.uk. For seat and table bookings contact Liz Ellis on 01293 846593 or email [email protected]
Zurich-based speciality bakery Aryzta has seen its Food Europe division shrink as growth falls by 1.4% in the nine months to 25 April 2009Its Food North America and Food Developing Markets both experienced growth or 22.7% and 14.9% respectively, resulting in an overall growth of 5.7% for its food businesses.Group revenue for Food Europe stood at €848.9m, with volumes declining in the UK and Irish marketplace.Chief executive officer Owen Killian said: “Consumer sentiment continued to deteriorate resulting in lower consumer spending in most channels.”He said that revenue growth has slowed in all markets, but that the company “is very well positioned with product, channel and geographic diversity combined with a very responsive business model.”
Cornish craft bakery Rowe’s has sealed a deal to supply Tesco stores nationwide with scones under the Tesco Finest brand.Rowe’s already supplies Tesco stores in the South West region with own-brand baked goods, but this is the first time the bakery has secured a national contract with the multiple.The new scones, available in sultana and cheese flavours, are specially designed to naturally break into two halves, with bakers at Rowe’s formulating the recipe so that a slight crack is present in the finished product. The sultana scones are available in 650 stores nationwide and retail at £1.39 per pack, while the cheese scones are available in 400 stores and retail at £1.49.“The Tesco Finest scones represent an entirely new venture for us in terms of having a national distribution,” said Paul Pearce, director of marketing at Rowe’s. “We use locally sourced ingredients wherever possible in all our products, coupled with traditional craft baking techniques. It’s fantastic for us to see a product that we’ve developed from scratch launched in Tesco stores nationwide.”Tesco marketing manager Jo Wren added: “It’s great for us to be able to bring local suppliers like this into national tenders.”WC Rowe was established in 1949 in Falmouth, Cornwall. The company has 17 outlets and also supplies Rowe’s branded and own-label products to national retailers and supermarkets throughout the UK.The company was named Bakery Supplier of the Year in last year’s Baking Industry Awards after working closely with Sainsbury’s to develop a premium scone range under the Taste the Difference brand.