MEPs set to vote on weights legislation

first_imgThe issue of prescribed weight legislation – including bread weights – was due to be voted on in the European Parliament as British Baker went to press.Trade bodies, including the Federation of Bakers (FoB), are battling against the draft EU Nominal Quantities Directive, which suggests deregulating weight legislation, including the current UK system of selling bread above 300g in set weights of 400g, 800g and 1,200g. They argue that deregulation will cause confusion among consumers, because no specific measurements will be required by law. For example, one retai-ler could sell a 400g loaf, another a 380g, for the same price.FoB director Gordon Polson told British Baker he was “reasonably confident” the European Parliament would vote in favour of allowing the various European nations to keep their own weights legislation. In December, the EU Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee voted to exclude bread and other staples from the legislation. The issue is due to be voted on by MEPs on February 2.last_img read more

THE STATE OF THE NATION

first_imgOften, I feel the country is going mad, continually trying to buy on price, rather than on quality.With the public’s obsession in buying everything as cheaply as they can, we are shopping ourselves out of jobs. More and more factories are closing down in the UK. And the supermarkets hold much of the responsibility for this insane rush to lower prices. In reality, many of our remaining factories are importers – and often only assembly plants at best – as they source their products from overseas. If we cannot create jobs for everyone, where is the money coming from to buy the goods?I have always said I do very little wholesale and never intend to try to supply supermarkets. I feel that those chasing that business have a tendency towards volume addiction. But why should I borrow or use my money to put in extra plant – and even buildings – to provide products for someone else? That would mean I take the risk and they take the profits. Once you get hooked, I suppose it’s like riding a bicycle – once you stop pedalling, you fall off.Recently, I read in The Times that scientists claim that, within 20 years, there will be smart drugs that will make us think faster, improve memory and reduce tiredness. It reminds me of that old song, Why was I Born So Soon? Gosh, how I would love to have that pill.There is no doubt about it, the public sector is the place to be if you want short working hours, high pay, little stress and high pensions. Public sector workers across the board take 30% more days off sick than private sector workers, according to statistics.Then, their trade unions claim it is the extra stress they work under. I call it skiving off.Our MD, Neville, runs the firm without much help from me. When he tells me his staff problems, I confess I could not deal with the utter stupidity of the employment rules, which the idiots in government keep introducing. They will inevitably lead to unemployment. More time is spent on trying to remove a poorly performing member of staff with a bad attitude than on trying to improve the business.The total unfairness of it is that, if a member of staff does not like my face, they are at liberty to say, “I think you are ugly and I am not going to work for you.” This, I feel, is probably justified, as I don’t look like Cary Grant.But just think what would happen if I said to a member of staff, “I don’t like your attitude. You never smile and you depress everyone around you, so you must leave and find employment where you can be happy.” I would be in an industrial tribunal before you could say “goodbye”. And they call that fair? Unemployment is a bit like old age; it just keeps getting closer. nlast_img read more

CSR in the spotlight

first_imgThe Carbon Trust, a private company set up by government, has invited trade organisations to apply for up to £140,000-worth of funding on carbon reduction projects.To apply for the funding, applicants are required to produce a detailed plan, outlining how their initiative will deliver demonstrable carbon dioxide emissions savings, by 9 January 2008. Separate fundings of up to £30,000 and £140,000 are on offer.”We believe that trade and professional bodies have an important role to play in championing carbon reduction measures among their member businesses and colleagues,” said Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust. “We would encourage anyone who wants to find out more to contact us.”For more details about the programme, interested organisations should visit [http://www.carbontrust.co.uk/] carbon/networks.Both the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and Northern Ireland Food and Drink Federation have received funding from the Carbon Trust Networks Initiative in the past.The Carbon Trust has also recently launched a new business carbon footprint calculator, to help businesses understand what a carbon footprint is, how to work it out and how to reduce it. This follows the Climate Change Bill announcement, which will set the UK a target of a minimum 60% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 as legally binding for the first time.Go to [http://www.carbontrust.co.uk/footprintcalculator] to apply for a free online Carbon Survey.last_img read more

Sheffield College invests in £1.2m training facility

first_imgA state-of-the-art training bakery is due to open at Castle College in Sheffield in March as part of a new £1.2m catering facility.This is the first stage in a £60m project to rebuild Castle College, part of The Sheffield College, due to be completed by 2010.The bakery will be kitted out with new equipment, including spiral and upright mixers, walk-in freezer and chill room facilities, a rack and deck oven from Tom Chandley, plus bun and bread moulders.Teaching aids, such as interactive boards, Powerpoint technology and internet connections, will be fitted throughout, while electricity points in the centre of the room will allow equipment to be easily moved around the classroom. This will enable students to work in pairs and small groups or shift the equipment to create a production line arrangement.”The beauty of the new bakery will be the flexible way in which equipment can be moved to reflect a large-scale line or the working environment of the medium to smaller-size baker,” said Chris North, bakery lecturer at the college.last_img read more

Gibsons factory enters consultation period

first_imgThe owners of a major sandwich business based in Wiltshire have indicated that it may have to close as it is no longer economically viable.Ultimate Foods, which runs the Gibsons factory in Devizes, has entered into a 30-day consultation period with staff over the future of the plant.A total of 95 staff work at the plant, which is one of the largest sandwich making businesses in the country.The company said in a statement that following a thorough analysis of the business, it had concluded that the site was “not viable as a production unit in its current form in the long term”. The statement went on: “While Ultimate Foods will explore every possible option during the 30-day consultation over the future of the Devizes operation, it is very possible that the outcome will be the closure of the site. “The prospect of making hard-working and dedicated employees redundant is probably one of the hardest decisions any business has to make.” Previous owners Uniq announced in 2004 that it would close the factory but Gibsons stepped in and reopened it at the beginning of 2005. However, Gibsons themselves got into trouble when they lost a contract with Weight Watchers and an anticipated contract to supply sandwiches to WH Smith did not materialise. The plant was then taken over by Ultimate Foods.last_img read more

HGCA points to importance of provenance

first_imgNew research commissioned by the Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) has revealed that the bakery sector is under-playing the provenance card in product marketing.Based on interviews through seven focus groups, the research found that bread and morning goods fell behind the brewing and dairy industries over perceptions of provenance claims, which ranged from supporting the local community through regionality or Britishness, natural ingredients, the origins of food including named suppliers, heritage and tradition and environmental standards.Richard Walters, head of food marketing at Bidwells Agri- business, which carried out the research, said: “In bread and morning goods, our research identified an opportunity for manufacturers to use provenance to underline the health benefits and freshness of product – linking to the farm and natural ingredients. There’s already product differentiation between healthy products within bakery, and provenance is a way to better target consumers buying into that market.”He added that there was further potential around regionality, following Morrisons and Sainsbury’s initiatives to source local wheats for regional stores.Roz Reynolds, marketing manager at the HGCA, added: “It may only be possible in certain parts of the bakery market to achieve that 100% feel for provenance, but it is very powerful in those parts, and it’s worth exploring within your own business.”last_img read more

Bakery School revamps modules

first_imgThe Bakery School, the online learning site for bakers, confectioners, cake decorators and pastry makers, is to launch new categories and a better-value, three-tier subscription rate later this month.The non-profit-making site, pioneered by former bakery tutor Jean Grieves and award-winning baker Albert Waterfield, features 55 modules that take learners, including tutors, students and refreshers, through ingredients, recipes, methods, troubleshooting and more.After a successful first year, with firms such as Warburtons, WC Rowe and Chatwins signing up to the site, The Bakery School has adapted it, so learners can ’mix and match’ particular modules at competitive rates.Three new tiers have been created: Gold (55 modules) plus three user licences free, for the cost of £250 for a whole year; Silver any two categories, such as bread and confectionery, with approximately 12 modules in each category for £100 per licence per year; and Bronze targeted at cake decorators, with several modules in the package, or pastry chefs costing £50 each for the year’s licence.”We’ve had some excellent feedback from the industry since we launched a year ago,” said Grieves. “We hope some of the recent changes will encourage others to sign up.”last_img read more

Spice rack: Cloves

first_imgCloves are the dried flower bud of a tree of the Myrtaceae family and are native to Indonesia, although they are grown in other parts of the world. They are used as a spice in many cuisines worldwide.Cloves are one of the spices contained in mixed spice and go particularly well with apples. In baking, it is best to use ground cloves. Too much can overpower and be a little antiseptic-tasting, but a little added to an apple pie or Dutch apple cake enhances the flavour. Sweetened, puréed cooking apples flavoured with cloves can be added to flour, raising agent and eggs to make a very low-fat cake, which tastes rich because of the texture of the apples. Or you could make a honey and clove cake with a lemon icing drizzled over the top.Ground cloves are also added to pumpkin pie so why not try making pumpkin bread, using puréed pumpkin, flour, raising agents, eggs, hazelnuts, sultanas, ground cloves, ground ginger and ground cinnamon. Or, make chocolate and almond cookies with cocoa, butter, sugar, flour, ground almonds and ground cloves and cinnamon. Cloves can be added to savoury baking too. They go particularly well with bacon or gammon, so try making pasties using chopped bacon, potatoes and vegetables and flavoured with ground cloves.Fiona Burrell, co-author of Leiths Baking Bible, from the Leiths School of Food and Winelast_img read more

Extreme wedding cakes

first_imgWe’re not sure who these cakes were made for, but it has been speculated that they were baked for the Kuwaiti royal family. Whoever they were for, we’re always happy to see pimped-up cakes.http://www.zuzafun.com/royal-cakes#more-483last_img

Pins are just the ticket

first_imgDalebrook Supplies has launched new ticket pins and stands, which can be used to promote special offers, label ingredients or simply display the price of an item.Three new products have been added to the range: a zinc alloy ticket stand; a zinc alloy ticket pin; and a stainless steel folded ticket pin. All similar in design, they feature three prongs to slide a ticket between.The zinc alloy stand can be placed next to products, while the ticket pin and folded ticket pin can be stabbed through the food.Dalebrook said the items are suitable for labelling cakes, pastries or bread in a display counter and are now being used in many UK retail outlets.Prices: from £8.10 up to £58.80www.dalebrook.comlast_img