Bakery entrepreneur and British Baker columnist Tony Phillips has branched out into confectionery with a chocolate shop in his home town of Cirencester.Chocolate and Candy was opened just over three months ago and is based on an American-style candy shop. Phillips said: “If it is successful, and we won’t know for about a year, we will think about opening others.”The shop’s handmade range includes seasonal lines, jellies, sugar mice, popcorn, peanut brittle and personalised chocolate bars.Phillips explained that he became attracted to the chocolate world after becoming a member of Retail Confectioners International (RCI) 11 years ago. This year he was made the first non-American president.
Ingredients company Kluman & Balter (Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire) offers a range of grease-and-release agents specifically formulated for the baking industry.The company’s most popular line is its E40 spray release for bread and fermented products. Made in Holland, E40 comes in 20-litre containers. Kluman & Balter says it offers a range of bakery ingredients sourced from around the world.
A degree in biology is probably not the first qualification you look for when recruiting an in-store cake buyer or even the fact that the applicant likes to play rugby.Five years of graduate training scheme experience at Northern Foods is probably the more attractive attribute, and so this proved for Asda when it approached Drew Tiffin a year ago.In plain English, Tiffin moved to Asda from the commercial team at Park Cakes and, he believes, his manufacturing experience is invaluable in his new role as in-store cake buyer with responsibility for cream cakes and desserts.”I have the insight to know and understand the issues for a manufacturer and I’m always keen to use my experience from working as a supplier,” he says.Tiffin is keen to stress that, because he has come from the manufacturing side of the business, most of his sympathies lie with the manufacturer. “I’d like to think I’m more empathetic than sympathetic,” he says. “It gives me a more rounded view of things.”Tiffin says that, like most supermarket buyers, he is always looking to see what is new in the market and will listen to suppliers who bring new ideas to Asda.He does admit that buyers are often very busy and that a targeted, well-thought-out idea is the way to approach any buying team, rather than an ad hoc email or phone call.”I need to get a feel for any new supplier and so I need them to give me details of their business, the new product they have developed and why they think it will work for our Asda customer,” he says.”Suppliers who understand my customer will stand a better chance,” he explains. “We need to understand their capabilities and the facilities at their site,” he says.A product manager will go to inspect the site and Tiffin himself will always try to get to a new supplier before they are taken on.”It is all very well companies sending in samples of new products but, in all likelihood, these will have been made in a test or development kitchen, not produced on the production line. So we need to know that this quality can be achieved consistently,” he says.Small suppliers, in particular, need to understand the implications of supplying just a few cases of product to each store, as Asda has over 300 of them.However, Asda does have a dedicated team set up to help local suppliers with these types of supply chain issues. This is probably just as well, as Tiffin explains:”It can be up to 10,000 products a week, but for more popular lines such as muffins or cookies, it can quickly get up to 30,000 per week.”Product trials have been used successfully on Asda’s touchscreen units to design your own birthday cake. Initially in just three stores, these units are now in 20 stores.Just one year into the role, Tiffin has already been responsible for putting a few new lines onto the shelf – some of which, he admits, have not worked as well as he had hoped.”Having the guts to go with a new product or a new supplier was daunting at the start,” he says. Happily though, the buying teams at Asda are encouraged to take these risks.”There have been a couple of unsuccessful product launches in my first year,” he says, “which means you are then faced with a quandary of when to de-list them versus taking the hit on product waste.”But this does give us an insight into the customer, so it’s not a completely wasted effort.”Other things that can tax Tiffin include supply chain problems, artwork issues, hitting the demand on promotions or even bar codes that don’t scan, all of which he takes in his stride. “Product quality is paramount in all of this,” he says.Even the weather can make or break Tiffin’s day, as the hot July was a nightmare while the wet August was fantastic. “People don’t tend to eat cakes when it’s hot,” he explains.It seems that jumping ship has been the right thing for Tiffin to do and staying in the bakery arena was more than a bonus.Apart from anything else, staying in the same industry means he still gets to talk to his old colleagues at Northern Foods, although in a slightly different context.”My old boss told me to only change one thing at a time, which has made a lot of sense to me,” he says.
London flour miller GR Wright & Sons has appointed Julian Woodgate to its board.Woodgate has been technical sales manager with Wright’s for five years and will take over from Chris Wyle, who retires as technical director after 14 years. Wyle will continue working on a part-time basis.Woodgate’s responsibilities will continue to include quality control, new product development and value-added sales.MD David Wright said: “I am sure Julian will do a great job following in the footsteps of Chris and wish him every success.”
Husky Group has launched the IcePod 2 Modular display freezer or chiller combination, which has three separate stackable pods.Each module operates as either a chiller or freezer through simple thermostatic adjustment and can work individually or together as a stack.The company has also unveiled the Mega Cavern Multideck, which is a stacked display unit designed to show off stock to maximum effect, says the company, and has a large open-fronted display area, which provides product visibility from all angles.It is also equipped with a turbo air curtain preventing cold air escaping, automatic defrost capability and a free night blind.[http://www.huskyproducts.com]
== November, 1893 ==A gentleman who came all the way from London to the World’s Fair with the intention of presenting a paper showing that bread is a mischievous diet, and that if men would confine themselves to fruits and nuts they would live to be very old – long enough to see the end of the silver debate in the Senate, perhaps – met with a serious Waterloo at the hands of some ladies who questioned him.One wanted to know why, if bread was the source of disease, babies died; and another how people in Greenland could live without bananas and coconuts.
Don Williams, CEO of brand and design consultancy Pi Global discusses the intricacies of brand naming and the importance of getting it rightLegend has it that, in the early 1940s, a bunch of DuPont executives and a gaggle of ’ponytails’ of course they didn’t have ponytails in those days…think ’madmen’ and you’ll be a little closer to the picture were sat around a table brainstorming a name for a new thermoplastic material they had invented. After much coffee, debate, doodling and head-to-wall contact, a weary executive cast his eyes downwards and happened upon a flight tag on a suitcase New York-London or NY-LON. Apocryphal? Yeah, right nice story though.The real history is that the name was originally going to be ’no-run’, implying that it wouldn’t unravel, but this claim wasn’t defendable, so the first three letters were changed to an abstract ’nyl’ and the last two based on a category generic ending: cott-on, ray-on.Naming, like most creative exercises, is an imprecise science. I know there are those who believe otherwise, but names can come from a wide variety of sources ranging from Latin derivatives (Hovis comes from the Latin hominis vis, meaning ’the strength of man’), to the descriptive Warburton’s ’Milk Roll’ (it’s a roll and it’s USP is that it contains milk), to phonetic sounds, often used in car-naming (Aygo, Ka), to the development of initials GP (General Purpose vehicle) became Jeep, SO (Standard Oil) became Esso.Many of the greatest brand names are simply abstract. Names that aren’t linked to a specific attribute are far more flexible in terms of brand stretch and growth. If you tie your brand to a single function, it is incredibly limiting; imagine what would have happened if Richard Branson had called his record label Vinyl instead of Virgin Vinyl Atlantic doesn’t quite have the same ring.Steve Jobs liked apples, had worked in an orchard and, allegedly, in 1976 while driving along Highway 85, from Palo Alto to Los Altos, announced to his partner Steve Wozniac that he thought ’Apple Computers’ would be a great name; it could have been worse!What’s vital, like everything in marketing, is that the solution is fit for purpose and, crucially, is right for the brand.Many, many years ago we were asked to develop names for a brand called ’Nuts’ from KP. I remember vividly sitting in the briefing thinking, “You have a name it’s KP.” KP was, and had been for decades, synonymous with nuts, but somehow they’d ended up by highlighting the generic rather than the equity. We explored a range of options, but our strong recommendation was to hero KP, making it clearly the brand name, where it remains today.I also fondly remember working for many years on Pot Noodle and being briefed to work on a pack design for ’Max Pot Noodle’. At that time, Pot Noodle was incredibly edgy, with a huge personality, and constantly pushed the boundaries of political correctness. We felt the name could work much harder and, more importantly, be more relevant to the brand. So we suggested ’King Pot Noodle’ King being an abbreviation of ’spanking’, which was being used in advertising as a pay-off line ’spanking gorgeous’.The ’king’ concept was perfect for the brand and quickly developed down avenues that are probably a little inappropriate for the pages of this journal.
Merit Technology has launched new software, which it hopes will transform the despatch-packing process for bakeries.The SOM Despatch-Packing Module is designed to eliminate human error in warehouses, by tracking every item loaded on to vans and cross-checking them against the orders that need to be filled.The system can display either a customer’s order, or an individual van’s load. It also features a “traffic light notification system”, which tells a packer exactly what still needs to be packed.”The packing process has always been plagued by human error, which over a period of time can cost companies a fortune this system essentially eradicates those mistakes,” said a spokesperson for Merit.
Sales of mince pies at Sainsbury’s have dropped since last year due to a warmer winter, it has been claimed.The supermarket chain has seen a drop in sales year-on-year, despite a recent Tweet from the company saying it was “expecting to sell 5.4 million mince pies this Christmas”.Simon Twigger, director of fresh and frozen foods, told British Baker’s sister title The Grocer that the marketplace had been “slower” than usual, adding: “The weather affects cakes particularly. We’d expect the growth to come either this week or next but it is coming through slower than expected.”Mike Coupe, Sainsbury’s commercial director, said: “We had the first frost this morning. Last year it was in September. This time last year we had snow.”
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) will be surveying acrylamide levels this year as part of its ongoing programme. Depending on the levels found, the FSA may evaluate steps bakery manufacturers have taken to address contamination levels.Following the news, both the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) its Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery Sector (BCCC) are urging those within the industry to continue to reduce acrylamide in their products. Acrylamide is known to cause cancer in animals, and it is believed that its presence in some foods could harm people’s health. It is formed when amino acid asparagine, present in proteins, is heated above 120ºC together with reducing sugars. The reaction that occurs leads to the production of acrylamide, alongside colour-forming (browning) and flavour-producing compounds, and is known as the Maillard reaction.Martin Turton, manager of BCCC, told British Baker: “At present, legal control measures in relation to acrylamide do not exist. However, to ensure that companies and trade associations do everything possible to minimise the risk by implementing the FoodDrinkEurope Acrylamide Toolbox, the FDF and BCCC would strongly urge manufacturers to continue with their efforts at reducing acrylamide levels. If sufficient progress is demonstrated by the results of government monitoring exercises, this will not only achieve the reduction in acrylamide levels that is being sought, but it will also render additional regulation unnecessary.”The FoodDrinkEurope Acrylamide Toolbox, which was updated last September, is a resource for food manufacturers to help reduce acrylamide levels. It incorporates the latest scientific research and feedback from food operators, and deals with three main ingredient types where acrylamide formation is most likely to occur – potatoes, cereals and coffee. It also deals with four processes whereby levels of acrylamide could be affected, including agronomical, recipe, processing and final preparation. Acrylamide was first discovered in biscuits and snacks in 2002, when the European and UK authorities were investigating its formation and the implications for its presence in food. It can be found in baked and cooked products such as bread, crisps and crisp breads. Turton added: “FDF members are acting on acrylamide, but the spectre of regulation hangs over the industry if we do not all – members and non-members alike – demonstrate that we are aware of and implementing the FDE toolbox.”To download the FoodDrinkEurope Acrylamide Toolbox (PDF), visit: http://www.fooddrinkeurope.eu/publication/fooddrinkeurope-updates-industry-wide-toolbox-to-help-manufacturers-further/