The All Party Small Shops Group has attacked “hilariously uninformed” press leaks about its report on the future of the High Street in 2015. The Group is preparing to release the report within the next three weeks. Speculation about the report, suggesting that a draft copy claims supermarkets will kill off corner shops by 2015 and that food wholesalers are under threat, appeared in newspapers including the Sunday Times on January 1. Yet “not one page” of the report, expected to run to between 60 and 70 pages, has been finalised, a spokesman for the group told British Baker.
Administrators were called into frozen desserts factory Bonne Bouche Frozen UK in Hartlepool last week, for the third time in four years.Joint administrators Mark Firmin and Richard Fleming, of KPMG Restructuring, have announced that all but 10 of the 242-strong workforce have been made redundant. The administrators said a shortage of working capital meant Bonne Bouche was unable to continue trading and, as a result, the redundancies had to be made.The remaining staff are assisting the administrators. Firmin said: “This business has struggled to make a profit due to tough trading conditions in a competitive environment. We are keen to hear from any parties interested in buying the business.”The factory was previously owned by Hibernia Foods, which called in administrators in October 2003. Freshbake Foods bought the site in January 2004, survi-ving just six months. Then Bonne Bouche, a company set up by a management buy-out team, took over in July 2004. In December 2005, the company went through a major restructure.The company produced its frozen desserts for supermarkets and retailers to sell as own- label products.
Environmental concerns mean that businesses are under increasing pressure to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, as part of an overall Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) package.With a variety of upward pressures on their business costs, Scotland’s Walkers Shortbread is one of many taking action to make savings on utility costs.The 109-year-old company wants to reduce carbon emissions from its four factories and three shops in the north east of Scotland. Nicky Walker, Walkers general manager, said: “We are very heavy users of utilities in our production processes so any savings we can make will go straight to the bottom line. We are also keen to continue reducing our carbon footprint.”Current action being considered is the installation of smart data loggers, which will allow gas, electricity and water consumption to be remotely monitored. Experts at consultancy Business Cost Consultants will analyse the data for Walkers and send specialists on to the sites to identify ways of reducing energy and water consumption.Donald Maclean, managing director of Business Cost Consultants, commented: “Like most food manufacturers, Walkers is facing increasing cost pressures on ingredients.”This has been caused by bad weather, global dietary changes and countries diverting significant amounts of raw materials towards bio-fuels.”We are confident of making substantial yearly savings, including reductions of more than 20% on water and telecom costs.”
Improve has cancelled the conference due to take place today, Tuesday, October 30 at the Bakers Hall in London. It will be rescheduled to take place during the Baking Industry Exhibition in April 6-9 at Birmingham NEC. Further details will be announced when the new date and time is confirmed.
In the news last week came reports that the government will be reintroducing home economics. Fifteen years ago they didn’t want to know and now all the teachers have dropped out. It’s like shooting an athlete in the foot before they begin a race.In our own industry the Doomsday clock stands at three minutes to midnight. It is important you all know that colleges have not had a free hand with the direction it has taken. Our industry lead body tells us what we can teach and the government tells us how much money they will give us to do it with. Every year there has been some form of cut in funding to contend with. And I suspect the colleges will have difficulties with the new skills framework.The Anglo/Welsh training scheme had experts, some industry backing and co-operation from some colleges, but was not economically viable.There is a dearth of skilled bakery educated staff. My view is that we should have a bakery skills centre, locate it central to the country, near the motorway and have it governed by reps from all the industry sectors. The centre would set its own standards, have funding via a tax on a raw material, such as flour, and use colleges and training providers (working together) to fill the widening skills gap.BB has provided a forum so you can make your views known and the Association of Bakery Students & Trainees has worked out a formula for a National Skills Aca-demy for Bakery (BB, 25 January, pg 16). Let’s unite behind this model and provide a new, united bakery training provision. === Skilled workers are in short supply ===There is a massive shortfall in the level of skills in bakery, with many employees being functionally illiterate and over 50% falling below Level 2 qualifications (five good GCSE passes). If the industry is rise to the consumer demand for better and more innovative products at a competitive price, this area needs to be challenged.The primary focus may be apprentices. Last year, there were 96 bakery apprentices from a workforce population of 96,000. Improve, the skills sector council says the apprenticeship route has been reviewed and the new pathways are intended to enable candidates to develop into skilled craftspeople, managers, supervisors, machine operatives etc. This route aims to allow the sector to develop its own talent and deliver the people in the right place with the right skills at the right time.
Research conducted by Café- direct found that almost nine out of 10 consumers said they would pay a few pence more for quality Fairtrade products.Out of 2,500 consumers that took part in the online survey at [http://www.bbcgoodfood.com], 87% of respondents bought Fairtrade every week or every month. Sales of Fairtrade products have increased by 40% or more each year, to around £430m in 2007.Cafédirect is a Fairtrade hot drinks company, which supplies to the baking industry.Fairtrade Fortnight runs from 25 February to 9 March 2008.
Costa Coffee now sells coffee made with beans from Rainforest Alliance certified farms in every one of it 785 UK stores. The coffee chain will buy almost 1,500 tonnes of green beans, which is 30% of its annual requirements from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. Costa and the Rainforest Alliance are also discussing how to increase this percentage as more farms are certified. “We believe we have a responsibility to ensure that coffee production is sustainable, that it supports coffee growing communities and protects the environment,” said John Derkach, managing director of Costa Coffee. “YouGov research has revealed that UK consumers want ethically sourced coffee, another reason why we have made this important choice for our business.”The Rainforest Alliance works with farmers to improve conditions for the workers and their families, such as ensuring decent wages are paid and that workers have housing and access to clean water. It also ensures farms are run in an environmentally sustainable manner.“Costa Coffee’s commitment to source increasing amounts of coffee from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms demonstrates that sustainably sourced coffee really is now the mainstream choice,” said Tensie Whelan, president of Rainforest Alliance. “Costa customers can enjoy a great tasting cup of coffee knowing that it comes from well managed farms where workers are well cared for, children are able to go to school and forests and wildlife are protected.”Costa’s global stores will sell coffee using these beans from January 2009.
Glasgow tea supplier Brewhaha is to open its first tea-house in the centre of Glasgow in early November.The firm, which supplies upmarket shops such as Harvey Nichols with its range of packaged teas, will open up shop between Costa Coffee and Coffee Republic in Buchanan Street in the city centre.The 40-seat venue will focus on Brewhaha’s range of green and black teas, as well as serving Illy coffee, British food – such as ploughman’s sandwiches – and cakes. Director Douglas McLeod said: “We want to do something different to what you would normally find on the high street.” He hopes to persuade a celebrity – to be confirmed – to open the shop. Actor Jude Law is a big fan of Brewhaha’s Rose Tea, he added.Brewhaha is also importing its tea range to mainland Europe, including Denmark, Sweden and France.
Don’t forget to get creative and enter our national cupcake competition, sponsored by Puratos, in the run up to National Cupcake Week, and get your recipes in by the new date of 22 July.British Baker and co-sponsors of National Cupcake Week (14-19 September), Puratos, welcome all bakery professionals up and down the country to join in the fun by submitting their outstanding recipes and designs.Entries will be assessed by a top panel of independent judges, including:* Baking guru Dan Lepard – The Guardian’s bakery writer, blogger and author of several well-respected books on baking. A past British Baker columnist, he has acted as a consultant to many bakeries and works with Bakehouse.* Mich Turner – founder of London’s multi-award-winning-Little Venice Cake Company and author of three cake books. She has been a consultant to Marks & Spencer and has a line of celebration cakes in Sainsbury’s.* Fiona Burrell – author of Leith’s Baking Bible from Leith’s School of Food and Wine, and is a regular columnist in British Baker.In order to contend for the cupcake king or queen title, we need you to send us a commercial scale recipe and method including topping (one that could be produced in a shop), plus photography, along with an application form, which you can download from the dedicated cupcake week page on our website – www.bakeryinfo.co.uk.The 10 best recipes and images will be shortlisted, and the chosen entrants will then be contacted by the judges.The panel will then whittle down the shortlist to six winning recipes. Each of these will represent one retail day of the Week, from Monday to Saturday. An overall champion of cupcake champions will also be crowned.National Cupcake Week is being used to support the sale of cupcakes in any outlet that sells them, from craft bakers to cafes, supermarkets and convenience stores.Please remember:Only professionals who either make or supply cupcakes as a business are invited to enter.The deadline is 22 July 2009.Send your entries to [email protected] or post to Cupcake Competition, Elizabeth Ellis, William Reed Business Media, Broadfield Park, Crawley, West Sussex RH11 9RT.