Supermarket bread on sale in London is cheaper than bread on sale in Cairo, Bangkok, Beijing and even Manchester, latest figures from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) reveal.The data, supplied exclusively to British Baker, shows a standard kilo of bread cost 61p in a London supermarket.That meant London’s supermarkets ranked 114th on bread prices out of the 130 cities the EIU tracks in its Cost of Living survey.A kilo of bread sold in a Manchester supermarket, the other UK city in the survey, came in at 69p.The data was gathered in September 2006 when the EIU sent shoppers to buy bread in three different types of retailer: a cheap outlet (a supermarket), a mid-priced outlet (for example Marks & Spencer) and an upmarket food hall or niche retailer, for example Selfridges food hall in London.The EIU’s data suggests London supermarkets are the cheapest in the EU for bread apart from Budapest (Hungary) and Sofia (Bulgaria), where a kilo of supermarket bread cost 35p and 38p respectively.The ’old’ EU countries closest in price to London are Dublin (number 77), where a kilo of bread costs 92p and Copenhagen, Denmark, (number 74), where a kilo costs £1.01.However, while London supermarket bread was comparatively cheap, bread on sale in its higher end retailers was less so at £1.64 a kilo. In this category London was ranked the 66th most expensive in the world.Based on average prices, London ranked 81st in the world and Manchester 103rd – due to London’s more expensive top-end bread.For the survey, mystery shoppers bought a standard loaf of whatever the standard weight is in a country. In the UK, a white sliced 800g loaf was used. The weight is multiplied to work out the cost of 1kg of bread.Food and drink analyst and survey editor Jon Copestake commented: “Clearly, supermarket-bought bread in the UK is a different quality to some of the commonly eaten breads in other countries. And there are also economies of scale – in the UK a typical loaf is 800g, while in Northern Europe it may be 400g.” Exchange rate fluctuations also had an impact on the comparative costings.See next week’s British Baker for the full list.
Up to 211 jobs may go as Fletchers’ Sheffield bakery is “reshaped”, following a strategic review.The review identified a range of loss-making product lines that may be axed, if customers agree.Production for the remaining range would be moved to a five- day week from the current 24/7 shift patterns.A 90-day consultation with the site’s 550 staff has started. The plans would impact all functions, areas and departments.Employees are also being consulted over changes to the full range of terms and conditions. If proposals go ahead, the new working arrangements would start from 10 December 2007.A spokesman for owner Vision Capital said the bakery, bought from Northern Foods last year, needed “urgent action” to provide a platform for growth, after several years of “significant losses”.Some £5m capital investment was planned at Fletchers’ sister manufacturing sites in London, Barnsley and Manchester, which had also been reviewed, he added. No redundancies were planned.Peter Williams, general manager at Sheffield said: “We will be consulting fully with all potentially affected employees and keeping them in the picture. These proposals are vital to secure the future of Fletchers Bakeries in Sheffield.”Merlita Bryan, district secretary for the Bakers, Food & Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), said the company had met with unions this week and was due to hold another meeting on Monday. She said some 150 job losses were expected on the manual and driving side.”Moving to a five-day week, plus changes to terms and conditions, which we expect to include overtime and holiday pay, is a double whammy. This is another major blow, following on from floods and a series of setbacks.”Fletchers suffered damage in a fire in July 2006, while in February, 74 jobs were axed.
With a scientific foresight as clear as an azure sky, coupled with an alimentary canal as clean as the proverbial whistle, Dr Allinson liked his wholegrains and he wasn’t afraid to shout about it. But his genius wasn’t confined to keeping a healthy bowel.On baldness: “The causes of baldness are wrong living, improper foods, too many meals, intoxicating drinks, tobacco, strong tea and coffee, late hours, bad air, vicious sensual habits, or anything that lowers the tone of the system. Rectified spirit of petroleum is said to be one of the best remedies for baldness. It should be scented with oil of bergamot, and rubbed in every third night; at the same time, bad habits must be corrected, and as little head-covering as possible should be worn.”
Brits are eating less salt. Average daily consumption has fallen by 0.9g to 8.6g since 2000, reports the Food Standards Agency (FSA).The government is happy with this – it’s fed up with shelling out on NHS treatment for people with high blood pressure. But it wants consumption to drop more quickly towards 6g a day. So the FSA has tightened up its 2010 salt reduction targets for food manufacturers and introduced even tougher measures for 2012.The targets – voluntary, although the threat of legislation is ever-present – cover 30 categories of food, including several bakery categories and snacks. Bakery, except for cakes, has escaped the new 2010 targets. But there is work to be done for 2012. Plain bread, for example, should contain no more than 370mg of sodium per 100g. Some in the industry feel it cannot go any further without losing customers.Both craft and plant bakers need salt for taste and successful proving. President of the National Association of Master Bakers (NA) Chris Beaney said the craft bakery sector has always used the minimum salt it has to use to make a proper loaf. “But we haven’t got a lot of leeway,” he said. “Apart from flavour, salt contributes to the work of the yeast and the rising of the bread.”Beaney, who runs Rochester-based Beaney’s bakery, added: “We’re heading to a stage where we won’t be able to go much further with salt… we will get down to a minimum and we won’t be able to go much below that. Perhaps the industry will come up with a different product that can impart flavour into the bread.”Difficult decisionCraft bakers would rather make their own decisions about salt levels, it seems. Thomas Adams, managing director of North- ampton bakery retailer Oliver Adams, said it would stick with its current recipes for the time being “although, when we manufacture for a third party, we have to do what they require, but it’s damned difficult”. Although Adams thinks the 2012 targets are achievable, he said: “It’s going to give some people dreadful processing problems, because of issues of yeast.”Representing the plant industry, Federation of Bakers (FoB) director Gordon Polson has spoken of the “technical challenges” the 2012 targets will bring. Some plant bakers have already reduced their salt usage. Banbury-based Fine Lady Bakeries is already meeting the 2012 targets for the bread it sells into foodservice – to help its sandwich-making clients meet their own targets. In its retail division, however, managing director Joe Street said Fine Lady adjusts salt levels to meet the wishes of each customer. Of key importance, Street added, is the need for a level playing field between manufacturers – hard to ensure under a volun- tary scheme.Not happyWhile companies such as Fine Lady have been working in conjunction with sandwich makers on salt levels, it seems the sandwich industry as a whole is far from happy with the FSA’s proposals. British Sandwich Association director Jim Winship described them as “ludicrous” and not in tune with consumer demand.”The main problem with reducing salt targets even further is that, unless the FSA convinces consumers to reduce their salt levels at the same pace, then they will not want to buy the sandwiches. We have more complaints now from consumers about blandness than ever,” said Winship.”There needs to be a hiatus to let consumers catch up. If the food industry feels it is being put at a competitive disadvantage, then it will not do it.”We don’t understand how the FSA came by these targets, because they seem to have ignored everyone’s input.”Others across the industry declined to comment – or said their policy was to go along with the FSA’s recommendations. “It’s not in our interests to be seen as heavy users of salt,” said Maple Leaf UK’s marketing and innovations director Guy Hall.While smaller producers may be able to continue liberal use of salt, major manufacturers are unlikely to be able to duck out, as the FSA proposes to collect samples, including bread, rolls and morning goods, cakes, buns, pastries, pies and sandwiches, directly from them for testing.As the FSA has published its proposed targets in the form of a consultation, there is still time to respond, and it’s important that the industry gets its views heard. But it is difficult to know just how open the FSA is to adjusting the targets. Even if the public is not quite ready to dump its favourite seasoning, the FSA is likely to force the industry to give up its own reliance on it.l The deadline for responding to the FSA’s consultation on salt is 31 October. See [http://www.food.gov.uk]
A real time facility – DataTrace RF Temperature Logger – is now being offered by monitoring solutions company Wessex Power. The MPRF temperature loggers provide accurate data across a wide temperature range, -80?C to + 400?C, and come with either a rigid or bendable probe length.”Real-time data enables adjustment to the process as it happens, so this is a major breakthrough,” said marketing director Nigel Barfoot. “It ensures you can maintain best control over the quality and consistency of the product at every stage and the data can be visually displayed and logged for ease of tracking.”The logger can collect up to 8,000 data points.[http://www.wessexpower.co.uk]
The makers of the latest Wallace and Gromit outing, A Matter of Loaf And Death, have revealed more plot details of the film, which will see the pair running a bakery called Top Bun.The storyline will revolve around the murderous Cereal Killer, who targets local bakers. While Top Bun’s business does well as the competition is killed off, Gromit worries that the pair may become victims themselves. Meanwhile, Wallace is oblivious to the threat as he has fallen in love with former star of the Bake-O-Lite advertisements, Piella Bakewell. However, he soon makes a discovery that points to the identity of the Cereal Killer, but will the truth ever be revealed?The 30-minute programme will premiere on BBC One this Christmas and was produced by Aardman Animations. Kingsmill will be partnering Wallace & Gromit in the run-up to the launch of the new film ‘A Matter of Loaf and Death’. Starting in December, Kingsmill will launch an on-pack campaign called ‘Win a Prize of a “Loaf” Time’. It will feature across the Kingsmill Great Everyday White Bread (440g and 800g), Kingsmill Love to Toast Bread (800g) and Kingsmill Crusts Away White Bread (400g) lines.The National Association of Master Bakers (NAMB) is also promoting the Wallace and Gromit film in craft bakeries through point of sale material.
by Paula Tallon, a partner of BDO Stoy Hayward, chartered accountantThe headline measure in the government’s Pre-Budget Report was the cut in the standard rate of VAT from 17.5% to 15%, which came into effect on 1 December, 2008, and will last until 31 December, 2009.For the baking industry, the amount of extra administrative work will depend on the proportion of sales that are standard-rated. For example, café and coffee shop operators will have to amend all of their menus, price lists, promotional material, tills and accounting records. On the other hand, bakers who do not sell any hot take-away food should have little or no changes to make, while bakery and eat-in/ take-away retailers will have to implement all of the changes in relation to the eat-in/take-away element.Another change allows businesses to carry back trading losses for up to three years, rather than just one year as at present. The proposal applies to companies that suffer a loss in an accounting period ending in the period 24 November, 2008, to 23 November, 2009, or unincorporated businesses that suffer a loss in the 2008/09 tax year.Perhaps the best piece of news for family businesses was the announcement that the ’income shifting’ proposals have been shelved indefinitely. These proposals would have interfered with the way in which family businesses allocate profits, salaries and dividends.The small companies’ rate of corporation tax, that was due to have been increased from 21% to 22% from 1 April, 2009, will not now be changed until 1 April, 2010.
== Unsoy’s delivery deal ==Ingredients supplier Unsoy Food Industries has announced a new five-year contract with Rosewood Trucking and Distribution to handle its imports, warehousing and deliveries. Unsoy has worked with Rosewood for the past five years and has increased its deliveries from 1,000 tonnes in 2005 to an expected 9,000 this year.== Finsbury shares drop ==Finsbury Foods’ shares took a 10% tumble last week, after the firm announced that preliminary discussions regarding the sale of the company had ended. It follows the announcement on 1 June that there had been a preliminary approach regarding a potential offer for the firm.== Starbucks shines ==Starbucks Corporation saw strong third-quarter results, with operating profit at $204m, compared to an operating loss of $21.6m in Q3 2008. The chain has also been experimenting with unbranded outlets in Seattle. Three are planned for the city and will also serve wine and beer, but a spokesperson said there were no plans for roll-out in the UK.== GBI buy finalised ==Canadian firm Lallemand has completed its acquisition of GB Ingredients (GBI) from Cie des Levures Lesaffre. GBI operates a yeast business in the UK and Ireland from its base in Felixstowe. It follows the acquisition of the GBI businesses in Spain and Portugal last month.== Sara Lee sells sites ==Sara Lee Corp’s international bakery segment is to sell three of its Spanish bakery production sites – in Burgos, Malaga and Gran Canaria – to Grupo Siro. Sara Lee will continue to own and market all of its Spanish bakery products, including its leading Bimbo brand.
Like-for-like sales of Hovis bread grew 17% in the first half of 2009, boosting the brand’s share of the market to its highest in two years. However, profits are proving harder to come by, according to one City analyst.The jump in Hovis’ sales, announced in parent company Premier Foods’ half-year results to 27 June, boosts the brand’s market share from 22.7% to 26.3%, following a relaunch last year, with new recipes, packaging and heavy marketing support.Premier said sales across its entire Hovis division, which includes baking, milling and frozen pizza bases, had fallen 3.2% to £372.4m, but profit had increased 18.7% to £14.6m. The fall in turn-over is partly due a 20.7% sales decrease at the firm’s milling operation, following the end of a flour contract with Warburtons.Martin Deboo, an analyst at Investec, said that Premier had done a good job of reviving Hovis bread sales, but added: “It remains to be seen whether these can be translated into profits.”At the current rate, Premier would expect to make around £30m profit in bread and milling in 2009. To put this into context, in 2006 – the last boom year for UK bread and milling (when the business was owned by RHM)- it made £64m profit.”With wheat prices falling from £220 to £180 per tonne since January and branded loaves remaining above £1.20, bakeries should be making “much better profits”, said Deboo. But, he said much of the profit is being poc-keted by the supermarkets, while brands are having to finance large-scale promotions.
Professional bakers are going head-to-head with amateur chefs in the latest culinary craze: monthly cupcake-offs.The Iron Cupcake event debuted in the US and launched in the UK earlier this summer, encouraging entrants to bake cupcakes with a theme or key ingredient.Everyone who comes to the event takes part in a mass sampling and votes for their favourite. All entries are photographed and published on the ironcupcake.co.uk website so bakers can promote their cakes.Competitions are open to both professional and amateur bakers, and pro bakers entering the bake-offs so far have included the Gourmet Cupcake Co, Baked by Ellie, and PMT Cupcakes. Said organiser Paul Taylor: “We are the first Iron Cupcake franchise outside of the US and in the four events run so far have been amazed at the response and enthusiasm shown. Our last event had nearly 100 attendees and 34 variants of cupcake. Some are professional bakers, but they don’t always win – however, we are thinking of running a pro only event soon.”A matcha (finely powdered green tea) and chocolate cupcake filled with a bean paste mousse topped off with matcha cream cheese frosting, won the last event. The fifth challenge will be held on Monday 5 October at a venue to be confirmed, with the theme of ‘booze’.