Warburtons said it is 80% of the way towards national coverage as it launched it £60m “super” bakery in Tuscany Park, Wakefield, this week and revealed it is to install a second bread plant at its Enfield bakery.The new Tuscany Park bakery replaces a landlocked site in the town centre, and will serve customers in Bolton-based Warburtons’ Yorkshire stronghold. It has one high-volume bread plant, capable of producing 8,400 800g loaves an hour and a roll plant, capable of producing 60,000 baps an hour.Speaking at the launch director Brett Warburton told British Baker Tuscany Park is a key strategic development in national expansion plans. The site will allow Warburtons to meet increasing demand for its bread in its heartland, he said.The building has an empty section, where a second bread plant will be installed by 2008. Warburtons also has planning permission for a second bread plant at its Enfield bread bakery, which already produces 8,000 loaves an hour. Expansion there will soon be underway, Mr Warburton said. He commented: “It’s important we put down capacity. We are now approaching a situation where we are serving 80% of the UK and we have another 20% to go at.”Warburtons is also preparing to launch two bakeries in Stockton and Newport, acquired from New Rathbones last year. The Stockton site adds capacity in the north. The Newport bakery, which will be in action by July or August, will allow expansion into Wales, currently supplied from Birmingham and Runcorn. It will also let Warburtons “stretch its tentacles” into the south-west, an area it does not cover.Brett Warburton commented: “This is not the end of the road, we will need additional capacity. We are addressing this issue at the moment.” Investec analyst David Lang predicted the baker will need a site south of the Thames.Warburtons’ regional market share, July 2005:Lancashire and Borders – 54.4%Yorkshire – 44.5%Scotland – 33.8%North-east – 33.1%Central – 32.1%Wales and West – 11.3%East – 9.3%London – 7.4%South-east – 3.3%South-west – n/aSource: AC Nielson/Tns World Panel/figures collated by Warburtons in its bakery review 2005.
Organic accreditation – a route many bakers have shied away from due to prohibitive costs for what some say is still a niche business – could be about to open up to smaller businesses. Speaking at IFE this week, the Soil Association’s commercial director Jim Twine announced that the organic accrediting body would be lobbying for Defra and the EU to introduce levels of certification so that smaller producers could benefit from the label – a point flagged up by British Baker as lacking last month (BB, 2 Feb, pg 23).Though this is undoubtedly welcome news, these are giddy times for bakers, having to fathom the myriad labelling schemes for ethically minded consumers. Joining the merry-go-round recently was the ’carbon footprint’ label from the Carbon Trust. This is a badge for those companies reducing the carbon footprint of their products to plaster on their brands (see details in our free Speciality Breads supplement next week). Marks & Spencer, for one, has become evangelical about positioning itself as the ’ethical retailer du jour’ and, last week, felt moved to announce a new ’air freighted’ symbol to flag up flown-in products.The fact that many organic products (seen as ethical) have to be imported (not ethical) is a moot point. The competing certification schemes, though sharing laudable aims, seem to be adding to a state of confusion rather than actually benefiting the consumer. With labels for the Vegetarian Society, recycled packaging, traffic lights and GDAs bunching up, it is no wonder, as one baker told me this week, that there will soon be barely enough space for the bread’s name!Though it is easy – and, indeed, healthy – to be cynical about the value of such schemes, health messages are clearly getting through, claimed the Food Standards Agency in its consumer report recently. It emphasises that 71% of respondents were aware of five-a-day, up a third from 2000.So maybe there is some argument to replace the English language with a series of symbols and graphics that we could all point at and grunt in order to navigate our way through the world. This would no doubt be a boon if the number of barely-literate school leavers that employers complain of is to be believed.
In navigating a path through the Total Packaging Show’s five seas of stands – a quintet of enormous halls showcasing the shiniest new packaging and automation technology – a common theme quickly emerges: the Brave New World of bakery appears to be finally with us.Over the past 12 months, bakery manufacturers have been racing to automate their production and reduce labour, say the machinery suppliers. Of course, they would say that, but the bite of minimum wages, coupled with cost pressures, are evidently forcing a rethink on forward investment. Elements of the baking industry – those that some observers say have been slow to embrace technologies such as robotics – are changing tack and investing in the future.”People are looking a lot at automated feeding systems – they’re spending money on anything that can take labour out of the process,” says sales engineer Tony McDonald of Ilapak, which claims to be the largest supplier of flow-wrappers into UK bakeries, with Warburtons, Allied Bakeries, British Bakeries, Discovery, Mission and La Fornaia among its customers. “With cost-cutting, the supermarkets squeezing margins and the minimum wage rising, there is not enough room to make a profit. The only way to do it is to take people out of the equation.”The firm supplies smart belt feeding systems, which take the product straight off the conveyor and load it into the flow-wrapper, without having to load the in-feeds off flow-wrappers. Ilapak is also developing a system to replicate the shelf-life of multi-vac using a flow-wrapper, for naan bread manufacturers. “This can give a six-month shelf-life on tortillas,” says McDonald. “It vacuums the product in a travelling carousel system, before it goes into a gas-flushing flow-wrapper, at 50-60 packs per minute, and gives you a residual oxygen level of less than 0.5%.”shelf-life focusGas-flushing products to extend shelf-life is a big area of interest, but the supermarkets are not driving packaging innovation in bakery as hard as other categories, such as fresh produce, observes John Emerson, marketing manager of Manchester-based Record Packaging Systems. “Gas-flushing has been refined, and shelf-life is where the market is at right now. In fresh produce, some supermarkets are even flow-wrapping or tray-sealing celery, while others want to go back to a ’market’ feel with no wrapping at all.” The firm supplies L-sealers and shrink-wrappers to craft bakeries right up to plant bakers, such as Fabulous Bakin Boys and for the Rankin-branded breads.”Some of the bigger bakeries are going in for more and more automation,” says Colin Sorrell of Leeds-based PFM Packaging Machinery, an Italian company, which manufactures a range of vertical form filling seal machines, multi-head weighers and horizontal flow-wrappers. PFM launched the Pearl machine this year, an entry-level 3-axis servo system, which sells for £30,000 – suitable for wrapping smaller products such as paninis.Meanwhile, the big bakery PLCs are said to be following the lead taken by independent bakery firms and automating more. “We’ve been very successful with the independent bakers and we’re starting to see more enquiries coming with the main groups,” says Roy Fraser, sales manager of RTS Flexible Systems, which supplies Warburtons and is in talks with Allied Bakeries and British Bakeries about integrating robotics. He says the firm, which majors in high-speed vision-guided robots that pick products off the line, has developed a pancake picking system that has been a huge success in terms of completed pack and pick rates. “It’s the first time vision-guided robots have been deployed in the UK for this type of application,” he claims, adding there is huge interest in automated basket-loading, following the roll-out of the Tesco-driven Omega bread basket, while more bakers are automating morning goods lines.This view is shared by Keith Bartrum of Abar Automation, based in Holland, which specialises in pick and place technology. “We’ve been doing a lot of work with sandwich manufacturers and bakers making buns – products that have historically been difficult to handle. These need to have a perfect surface, especially for the supermarkets. It takes a lot of work to develop that technology, especially if you’re handling at speed,” he says.LASER TECHNOLOGYDatalase was showcasing its Casemark range of laser-imaging technology for labelling secondary packaging, such as corrugated boxes. The firm has developed a white patch for placing on boxes, whereby the ink pigment is activated by laser – it reacts to the light and changes to black text – and is claimed to be faster, cleaner and more efficient than inkjet. “The idea is you don’t have to have pre-printed labels in stock – you can change the programme to suit each batch,” says Michelle Radcliffe, sales and marketing coordinator.Meanwhile, Domino UK says it now offers a facility for thermal transfer printing and ply-labelling. “There are changes in retail in the way that product is presented on-shelf, and that is spreading throughout the industry. We’ve launched the V200 bakery printer – a specialist product for printing best-before dates to the base of the loaf, where bread is presented end-on in the tray, like in Tesco,” says sales manager Gino Pistilli. The V200+ is capable of applying variable data including text, real-time clocks, bar codes and logos onto a range of flexible packaging materials, including films and paper.Romsey, Hampshire-based Radix Systems was promoting automated sorters that check for colour, shape and size defects in processed products, particularly cookies and biscuits. “There are systems available to detect colour, but to combine that with detecting shape defects as well, and an ability to accurately measure down to 0.25mm, gives us a great competency in that area,” claims sales director John O’Shea. The technology could extend to bagels, mini-pizzas or bread buns – anything that’s in danger of overbaking; it can also detect uneven distribution of seeds on seeded products. Once more, this is a technology aimed at reducing labour. “Where a company has automated with high-speed wrapping machinery, people are no longer there to check the products,” he says. “So automation creates an even more compelling reason to use this sort of equipment, because the higher the speed of the packing lines, the tighter the tolerances have to be. If the wrong-size products are going through to a standard-size pack, you have a big mess on your hands.” n
As the saying goes ’it never rains, but it pours’. Or if June is anything to go by, it rains, pours, storms and floods, non-stop and without an end in sight.For a depressingly autumnal mid-summer month the elements have taken their toll, with forward wheat prices rising steeply this week (pg 4). A further increase is nothing to be sniffed at, with breadmaking wheat some £25 over and above last year’s price peak.Elsewhere, the disruption to distribution and production of baked goods manufacturers has caused further headaches in those areas worst hit.Maybe the rumbling from the skies could be explained by the switchover from Mr Blair to Mr Brown in the Prime Ministerial hotseat somehow angering the gods. A more plausible, if by no means conclusive, explanation might be the onset of global warming wreaking extremes of weather in the UK.Climate change continues to dominate the corporate agenda and many businesses have their calculators at the ready, totting up the carbon output of products. Fast food chain McDonald’s announced that it will be converting its 155-strong fleet of lorries to run on oil used to make Chicken McNuggets this week, potentially reducing carbon emissions by 75%, though hopefully not filling the air with chicken-smelling burps from their exhaust pipes.Private equity has also been in the spotlight of late. Brakes Group, which owns Country Choice, added £1bn to its price tag in just four years – a quite handsome profit margin for its owners, by anyone’s standards.Meanwhile, it is revealed that eating a cup of blueberries a day improves your motor skills (Health Watch, pg 6). Anyone who values their brain cells that highly would do well to eat such quantities. But they might suffer a similar fate to Violet Beauregarde from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate factory, who turned into a blueberry.And finally, we are excited to announce that actress Joanna Lumley will be hosting this year’s Baking Industry Awards. We hope to see you there.
National Craft Bakers’ Week is fast approaching, so make sure you get involved and promote your business. Running from 8-13 June, the aim of the week is to raise the profile of independent craft bakers – ’The Shop That Never Sleeps’ – and, in doing so, capture increased spend from consumers.The activity is spearheaded by the National Association of Master Bakers (NAMB) and has been developed with a group of key industry players: Bako, Bakels, BakeMark, BFP Wholesale, British Baker magazine, California Raisins, Macphie, Marriage’s, Puratos, The Reynard Group and The Scottish Association of Master Bakers.Craft bakeries of all sizes and location are encouraged to take part in the week, which promotes the important commercial and social role that craft bakers have in their local communities.For more information, as well as downloadable point-of-sale material, visit bakeryinfo.co.uk.
Athree-year research project, subjecting wheat to a battery of routine and newly devised tests, has identified accurate and rapid methods for bakers and millers to quantify flour’s quality and usability.Dr Eimear Gallagher, Ashtown Food Research Centre (AFRC) Teagasc, Dublin, and Professor Francis Butler, University College Dublin (UCD), headed up the research teams. British Baker caught up with Dr Gallagher as she was monitoring the latest batch of breads at the research centre in Dublin. She explained how the research project began with wheat trials for the Irish Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in association with Odlums, Ireland’s main flour miller. “We test many varieties of wheat grown in various locations around Ireland, but the majority of the tests that had been done before did not use modern methods. Some of the tests we brought in were brand new and some were standard, but new to this programme. For example, we introduced the use of lasers to our programme as a means of real-time monitoring of dough fermentation.”The research centre also looked at wheat from other countries such as Canada, France and the UK for comparison purposes.In the initial testing, Dr Gallagher and her team fractionated (or separated) milled flour into its individual proteins, using a new Lab-on-Chip method performed by Agilent’s Bioanalyser. This method can test 10 samples of flour in 30 minutes and is quicker than traditional methods, such as gel electrophoresis. The method quantifies the molecular weight of proteins in the flour. It reveals firstly that each flour has a unique protein pattern and this, in turn, reveals what bakery products the flour is most suited to. For example, there are low (7%), medium and high (14%) protein flours; the former is best suited for cakes and confectionery and the latter (high protein) for bread and cakes.The Bioanalyser is specialist equipment that can be used by millers to advise bakers on which flours (or composites) are most suitable for various end-products. AFRC carries out tests for both millers and bakers in Ireland and while its remit is for the Irish food industry, it welcomes visitors to see the tests in action. Research papers are also available on its website (see below).More established tests such as those on dough, using the extensograph and alveograph, have been used to predict baking properties. Both these pieces of equipment and tests are already in use in bakery businesses.Laser technologyA totally new test – the structured lighting method – involved shining laser beams on a piece of dough inside a standard proving cabinet. Previously, a specialist machine was used, the Chopin rheofermentometer, which evaluates dough-proving properties within a closed cabinet.The new test shines lasers vertically and horizontally across the dough as it ferments, so that expansion rates can be measured. Following a series of mathematical calculations, developed by a PhD student, the proving capacity or fermentation properties of dough can be calculated. It is possible to monitor dough density of batters – cake, confectionery and gluten-free. The tests showed that wheat with low dough density at the end of fermentation produced breads with high-volume loaf.At UCD, real-time dynamic imaging was used to observe the baking properties of confectionery, cakes and biscuits. The tests physically measure how much the product increases in volume during the baking process. Researchers took digital photos, at regular intervals, of products rising in the oven. Colour-coded needles were placed in raw batter, so the rate of rising could be measured against the various colours at different heights.AFRC is continuing its work, testing wheat, flour and dough by scanning these products with Near Infrared (NIR) technology. This will distinguish between various samples on the basis of composition and these results will be compared with new and routine cereal testing methods, including those already mentioned above.l For further details of the research – A bag of tricks for millers and bakers CF019-4 and previous bakery research papers CF019 – go to: www.relayresearch.ie.
The latest statistics from independent retail analyst TNS Worldpanel, showed sales grew 0.5% (volume) from April 2008 to April 2009. For the comparable period the previous year, they had fallen 0.2%.According to Tesco, previous statistics from Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) show a 35-year decline to 2007.”Although official records showing the decline in the UK bread market only go back 35 years, it is well known in the baking industry that demand has been decreasing steadily for at least 50,” said Tesco bakery category director Scott Clarke. In a past Defra report, Family Food 2007, data showed that 695g of bread were consumed per person per week between 2004-05. This figure then dropped by 2.6% to 677g in 2007.Tesco said that tightening budgets have resulted in a “massive sandwich revival”, as more people are making their own packed lunches. And it has seen sales of white bread shoot up by 10% in the last 12 months.Brendan Thomas, bakery category buyer (bread and morning goods) at Co-op, said it has also noticed plant bread sales have risen. “There has been a general resurgence in the market, and we’ve seen growth in areas such as white bread,” he explained.The Co-op’s most recent full-year figures revealed it has been outstripping the market in terms of plant bread sales – “15.4% versus 13.1% (market) in value terms and 2.6% vs 0.9% (market) in volume terms”, said Thomas.”From a long-term perspective the consumption of bread has been a very small, but gradual decline over many years, said Gordon Polson, director, Federation of Bakers. He said the recession has provided a bit of a “kick-back” and, over the last 12 months or so, there has been an increase as people have gone back to buying staple products.Ian Cambridge, Sainsbury’s bread and rolls buyer, added: “For many shoppers plant bread can offer better value – something that is crucial during a recession.”Polson added that the rise in popularity of white bread was due to it being viewed as “an all-round family loaf”. The volume of UK plant bread sold has increased for the first time in 35 years, announced Tesco, after TNS figures revealed marginal growth.
Greggs is piloting a new type of high street store, which emphasises the retailer’s bakery roots and makes ’grab-and-go’ purchases easier, as it gears up for an accelerated round of shop openings next year.Two further ’new concept’ stores are due to open this year ahead of plans to roll-out at least 30-40 new shops in 2010 as part of Greggs’ long-term ambition to increase its estate from 1,400 stores to over 2,000.The bakery chain revealed its intentions as it announced half-year operating profits this week of £16.3m, up 8.9%. Sales grew 4.4% to £312m, although like-for-like sales were up by just 1.5%, due to the impact of the wet summer. Net profit, however, fell to £11.4m, compared to £16.2m for the comparable period last year.The new concept store in Bromley, Kent, which opened last month, features a darker colour scheme with pictures on the wall of the bread-making process and messages high-lighting the freshness of Greggs’ products. There is also more space on the shop floor for customers to browse and a greater range of impulse products that can be bought without having to be served at the counter.”We are trying to put all our latest thinking into one shop. On the back of that we’ll decide whether we’re going to roll [it] out into our existing 1,400 shops or roll it into the 600 shops going forward,” said chief executive Ken McMeikan.Greggs’ plan to centralise and simplify the business is on track, with 40% of the 164 Bakers Oven shops now rebranded as Greggs and plans to harmonise 80% of products by the end of the year on schedule. The retailer’s sandwiches and savouries have been relaunched across stores, while revamped products in the first half included yums yums, Belgian buns and two types of pasty.
== Finsbury’s flat cakes ==Finsbury Foods has announced a group revenue growth of 8% in its latest trading update. But like-for-like growth in its cake, division continues to be “flat”. Its bread & free-from division saw like-for-like growth of 14%, and sales in its cake division rose 2% “in absolute terms” versus last year.== Maple Leaf consistent ==Bagel and speciality bread manufacturer Maple Leaf UK, part of Canada Bread’s Frozen Bakery division, achieved a performance consistent with last year, according to the parent firm’s second-quarter statement. The Rotherham-based manufacturer has restored sales of its bagels to similar levels achieved before an oven fire at its plant in early 2008.== Uniq reports a loss ==European chilled convenience food group Uniq has seen increased losses for the six months to 30 June 2009, despite comments from the firm that it is progressing well. The supplier of sandwiches to Marks & Spencer (M&S) reported a pre-tax loss of £12.8m compared to £2.6m for the same period last year.== Chevler adds to kit ==Baking cases producer Chevler has installed a specially designed reel-fed machine, capable of producing over 250,000 muffin and cupcake cases an hour. It forms part of an ongoing investment programme for the recently formed South Wales-based firm, enabling it to cope with increased demand from bakers and food manufacturers.== Livwell gains listings ==Sainsbury’s is to list three new free-from lines from gluten-free bakery Livwell, part of Finsbury Foods. A Victoria sponge, a chocolate sponge and a four-pack of crumpets are now available at the supermarket.
Warburtons has added an 800g Brown Farmhouse Loaf to its range. The new loaf builds on the success of the firm’s White Farmhouse Loaf its 800g variant is the fifth best-selling bread SKU in the UK with sales growth of 34% versus last year (AC Nielsen, w/e 11.7.09). “The new loaf will give people greater choice,” said a spokeswoman.RSP: £1.38www.warburtons.co.uk