The start of the new almond season harvest is two months away and the news continues to support earlier forecasts that the Californian harvest is looking good. The forecast at the end of June was 603,000 tonnes.Current almond crop availability appears to match the steady demand and prospects of such a big new crop must limit any major price increases into 2008.With China and Eastern Europe now finished for the walnut season, the only stocks available are Indian walnutsAlthough it is too early to forecast new season production in China, with its domestic consumption increasing the need for a much improved crop supply is essential and anything less would be bad news for walnut pricing into 2008.For cashews, prices remain quiet. Although prices continue to benefit from further weakness of the dollar, raw material supply overall is meeting demand.Demand for pecans in Europe will pick up from late summer until Nov-Dec, so we can expect to see the current general inactivity kick started within the next couple of months.The extent to which either increased demand or poor weather will impact on the remaining pecan inventory remains to be seen. What seems clear is that price reductions over the rest of the crop seem unlikely at best.Pistachio prices remain relatively stable into the last quarter of 2007.RM Curtis’ trading director Mark Setterfield in Edible Nuts & Dried Fruit Market, May-June 2007
After record almond ship-ments over the first three months of the new season (September-November), December shipments were also slightly up on the 2006 figure. Overall domestic sales were down by 18.4% while exports were up by 8.8%, said Mark Setterfield MD of RM Curtis.However, RM Curtis’ Edible Nuts & Dried Fruit Market Report: Jan/Feb 2008, stated that January has been predictably quiet and, with little trading, origin prices have stabilised, although UK prices have clearly been hit by the gradual weakening of sterling against the US dollar.In California and Spain, crops will be largely affected by the weather over February-March. “Poor weather over the next two months would instantly kick this market higher and, with plenty of buying still to be covered, the increases could potentially be substantial,” said Setterfield.For walnuts, earlier fears over worldwide supply shortages for 2008 appeared to be materialising. “The short Californian crop has sent US prices into orbit,” he added. “We strongly advise buyers to cover the remainder of their 2008 requirements while stocks exist, let alone last!”As for coconut, RM Curtis expects that, after the Easter demand eases, prices over the summer months will also ease: “However, with no immediate sign of any weakness from the oil and biofuel sectors, this market can easily remain firm in the short- to medium-term.”
Greggs has appointed Ken McMeikan – currently retail director at Sainsbury’s – to be chief executive of the group. He will join the board of the bakery giant on June 1.Sir Michael Darrington will retire at the end of July after 24 years as managing director of Greggs but will remain on the board as a non-executive director. Announcing McMeikan’s appointment, Greggs chairman Derek Netherton said: “When we began the process to find a successor to Mike Darrington we recognised that he would be an extremely hard act to follow. We are therefore delighted to have found in Ken McMeikan a person with the right mix of abilities and personal qualities to lead the business in the next stage of its development.”Netherton added that McMeikan’s “considerable retailing experience” would “greatly complement the skills and expertise that already exist within the Greggs senior team”.McMeikan, 42, joined Sainsbury’s in 2005 after a short period as chief executive of Tesco Japan. Previously he had spent 14 years in operational roles with Tesco, becoming chief executive of the Europa Foods convenience store business following its acquisition in 2002, with responsibility for integrating it into the Tesco Express format.Netherton also paid tribute to Sir Michael for “his outstanding contribution to the considerable growth and development of the business over the last 25 years, and particularly for his strong and unflagging leadership”.Sir Michael welcomed McMeikan’s appointment and said his experience would “prove particularly relevant and helpful in progressing the development of Greggs as a much more unified and customer-focused national brand”.
Winner BB’s Coffee & MuffinsIsleworth, MiddlesexBB’s 180 food-focused franchised cafés are found predominantly in shopping centres from “Plymouth to Perth”. Each site adds extra ingredients to the company’s signature muffin mix, typically baking around 14 flavours a day.Last year, BB’s introduced a segmented range of muffins, following research which showed its franchisees required more flexibility to meet regional demands, says BB’s retail and brands director Michele Young. New products include the luxury Muffin Royale for the high end of the market and low-fat and children’s ranges. Corn Savoury Muffins were also introduced, to meet the increasing demand at breakfast and tea times for a ’healthier’ product.The judges were impressed with the different methods used to research customer requirements, and the way in which the findings were used to adapt BB’s product range.Finalist The London Bread & Cake CompanyEdmonton, London”We’re customer-focused from the top down,” says managing director David Hall. “It’s the reason we’re still here after 126 years and some of our competitors aren’t.”The London Bread & Cake Company serves around 1,000 customers, mainly contract caterers, with a 350-strong product range, including bread rolls, Continental and speciality breads and cakes. It also buys in items requested by customers.Hall says all the company’s 100 employees, from sales staff to van drivers, go and meet their customers and everyone is prepared to “go the extra mile for them”. A staff training programme is under way, with office manager Claudette Campbell already achieving an NVQ in customer service.Regular feedback comes via the six-monthly customer questionnaire and a three-month independent audit was recently undertaken.Finalist Monty’s BakehouseSouth Godstone, SurreyFour-year-old Monty’s produces quality, bake-in-pack pastries, which have consistent bake times, leading, says director Harry Crane, to foolproof preparation and a mess-free serve.Over the past 20 months, the company has cemented its relationship with Air Canada to ensure the range it provides meets the client’s needs precisely.The product team has worked airside with crew to understand the processes by which passengers are served and the problems associated with airline catering. This has even extended to developing recyclable and collapsible packaging to help reduce weight and therefore fuel costs.Client and consumer feedback is positive, says Crane. Monty’s uses information gleaned from the regular emails from passengers to develop new flavours and advise Air Canada on product rotation.
Coffee shop bosses are optimistic that cautious customers will soon be returning for their regular caffeine fix again.Despite tough trading during the last six months, executives expect conditions to begin improving in the next few months, although they don’t anticipate full recovery until at least the middle of next year.Allegra Strategies’ UK Coffee Leader Survey of 100 top executives in the coffee shop industry shows that the number who report the impact of the recession has been “neutral or positive” outweighs those who say it has been “difficult or very difficult”. More executives think the economic situation will improve in the next three to six months than those who think it will take longer.While 2008 marked a record year for the branded UK coffee chain market, with 15% growth in turnover, growth has slowed down this year. “There is evidence that consumers are visiting a little less and spending a little less because of the current recession, but our research found that 80% of customers are continuing to visit just as much,” said a spokesman. “A cup of coffee is a little treat that many consumers are not prepared to do away with.”Allegra Strategies will reveal the full results of its survey at the UK Coffee Leader Summit on 19 May in London where speakers will include Starbucks UK and Ireland MD Darcy Wilson-Rymer.
The Village Bakery, based in Minera, near Wrexham, is to see nine of its lines stocked in 11 Tesco stores in North Wales, after clinching a deal with the supermarket.The lines on offer include white and brown bread, barm cakes, fruit scones and tea cakes, and the firm has said it hopes to expand on the nine-strong range in the future.Mark Grant, Tesco senior buying manager for Wales, said it was a great opportunity to get locally produced products into its stores, in response to customer demand,“The Village Bakery came very highly recommended as a great bakery by one of our other suppliers in North Wales,” he added.“We are going with white and brown barm cakes, tea cakes, fruit scones and a couple of weeks later we are going to go with five different types of bread, three 800g loaves and two 400g loaves across white and brown.”Robin Jones, joint-MD of the Village Bakery, said he was “over the moon” about landing the Tesco contract.
Exports of sweet and savoury biscuits and cakes rose in 2009, according to new report on UK Food & Drink Export Perfor-mance, published by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).With research carried out by Leatherhead Food, the report revealed that, within the cereals and bakery category, sales of sweet biscuits increased by 8.3% to £220.9m. Exports to Ireland, the UK’s number one export market for sweet biscuits, rose by 11.7%. Cakes were up 6.2% to £168.3m. Exports to Ireland, which accounts for a 59% share of the market, rose by 9.8%.Savoury biscuits also saw export sales grow by 13.2%. Exports to the US, the number one market for savoury biscuits from the UK, rose by 19.4%.
EmulsifiersUsed for dough strengthening to give volume, they stabilise systems using water and oil. Generally, they bind with starch; one part of the molecule attaches to the fat and the other to the water. This stabilises the bubbles that form in the dough. For example, when you over-prove, without an emulsifier, the dough will flop down because there is nothing holding the bubbles together. PreservativesCalcium Propionate (E282)This is used for an anti-mould effect and will typically give one to three extra days’ shelf-life.Solution 1: Vinegar is the classic alternative, as used for example in Hovis crumpets. It reduces the dough pH level, therefore making the likelihood of the bread being susceptible to microbial degradation.Drawbacks: It is nowhere near as effective as E282. It reduces dough water absorption and affects taste and aroma.Solution 2: Fermented carbohydrates (fermented wheat flour, wheat starch or whey protein) have started to be used in recent years. In fermenting, they produce certain organic acids, which have an anti-microbial effect, which will increase the shelf-life of bread. It also changes the flavour some say it enhances it.Drawbacks: You need to use a lot of it up to four times as much as E282. However, the price implication is not great and higher-concentrate products are emerging. As you can see, it is a complicated issue. So the best advice is to speak to your customers to find out what they will accept in your products. Contact your ingredients supplier to navigate the tricky path to cleaner labels. Sodium stearoyl lactylate or SSL (E481)This is less complex than E472e and comes in powder form and controls oven spring. It also improves gas retention and offers a soft eating bread with a longer shelf-life. It is mainly used in semi-rich and rich yeasted goods and it can be combined with E472e.Solution: Lipase enzymes can now work on fats in the dough to produce emulsifiers, and give the improvement in volume and internal texture that is a pretty good replacement to E472e or E481. From a cost perspective, they are similar to emulsifiers.Anti-stalingMonoglycerides (E471)This is another emulsifier crumb softener that retards staling. It comes in powder, paste and hydrate forms the latter being most effective. E471 is most effective over the first three days, but it can lead to a weaker crumb.Solution: Enzymes that reduce staling can be found in the category of amylases. Heat-stable amylases work on the damaged starch and gelatinising starch in your dough to produce the sugars that yeast loves. It breaks down the starch, reducing the starch’s ability to form crystals, which make bread hard and is the characteristic of staling. The special amylases for anti-staling are activated later in the process than the alpha amylases that are typically found in bread improvers, to stop crystals forming in bread which then cause staling.Drawbacks: There are two types available those derived from GM sources and non-GM versions. The non-GM version has a negative effect on crumb resilience, which is why many people use the other. Policy is to minimise the use of food additives and to use natural additives wherever possible. 99% of foods free from artificial colours and flavouringsDo not use any artificial additives in own-brand food and drink unless it is essentialPolicy to keep the use of additives to a minimum. First supermarket to target additive reduction in frozen and chilled ready meals through ’Kitchen Cupboard Guarantee’Permits the use of appropriate additives only where necessary and seeks to use natural alternatives whenever possible Data or Datem (E472e)or to give them their full name, diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono and di glycerides of fatty acids phew! It works by bonding to gluten and stabilises the liquid film around gas cells. It increases gas retention, which results in a closer texture, brighter crumb, more volume, oven spring and proof tolerance. It is used in white bread (lower protein flours); morning goods (where a high volume or long proof is required); and wholemeal, multi-grain and seeded breads. Many different compounds are possible and they vary in functionality and physical state (liquid, pastilles, flakes or powder). Flour Treatment Agents: gas retention/dough strengtheningAscorbic Acid (E300)The main benefit is a stronger elastic protein network, through forming chains in the proteins, which results in good oven spring. The overall effect is a stable, stronger, more elastic protein net-work capable of expanding without rupture. It benefits the protein network by removing bonding potential of the water-soluble proteins. It requires oxygen to convert to de-hydro ascorbic acid (vacuum mixing will reduce oxygen availability).Solution: it is also known as Vitamin C, so the consumer is not that concerned. However, if you are desperate to remove ascorbic acid from the label, there are natural ingredients that contain ascorbic acid. One clean label alternative is Acerola cherry.Drawbacks: It will cost you a fortune! It is priced at around 10 times that of ascorbic acid, and requires around 10 times more quantity.Also, because it’s a natural ingredient, which depends on soil and climate conditions, there will always be question marks over how consistent it can be. Glucose Oxidase is used on the continent to replace ascorbic acid but GB Plange does not recommend it for use in the UK. The UK baking industry has come to rely on a whole host of additives to make a classic range of products, from crumpets to loaves. Over the past few years, the tide has been turning towards additive-free. But there is a lot of misunderstanding about what function ingredients such as bread improvers perform and how to replace them.British Baker attended a ’clean label’ development day at ingredients supplier GB Plange to find out. “Clean label is an industry term it’s not something that means that much to the consumer. Generally, this means removing ingredients with E-numbers,” says Marie Parnell, general manager of GB Plange. “This means emulsifiers, but also preservatives, which tend to be used by the larger industrial bakeries. Then there are flour treatment agents, such as ascorbic acid, which are used to give better volume.”Why are bakers concerned about removing them? Because consumers are. ’Use of additives’ was the fifth most mentioned food concern cited by a Food Standards Agency (FSA) study, published in 2009, behind food poisoning, salt and hygiene in take-home/eat out foods. In the main, retailers’ views are following suit to keep the use of additives to a minimum.”Rightly or wrongly, consumers seem to equate naturalness and that also means no additives with being better for them,” explains Parnell. “The perception by the lay consumer is that additives somehow damage health. As an industry, we need to respond to consumers’ needs for more natural products with fewer additives; they don’t want to see any reduction in the quality of the bread; and they don’t want to see unacceptable cost being added onto the price of a loaf.”When it comes to replacing emulsifiers, enzymes present no additional cost and they do a similar job. However, the issue is not black and white. There are murmurings in Europe that enzymes which currently do not have to be labelled may eventually have to be declared on-pack. This would be the case if any enzymes were found to survive the baking process and if a clear link were made to allergies.What’s more, how clean is clean? One of the four basic bread ingredients, salt, contains two anti-caking agents. Then there’s ascorbic acid aka Vitamin C… “Actually, what we’re really talking about is cleaner labels, because most clean label bread improvers do have ascorbic acid in them,” says Parnell. “When it comes to talking about clean label, most people are prepared to accept ascorbic acid. From a consumer point of view, that is considered natural.”Here we explore additives and some alternatives on the market. What is ’clean label’? Clean label claims No artificial flavours or preservativesNo specific claims, but not using artificial preservatives in bread productsNo specific claims What is a bread improver? L-Cysteine Hydrochloride (E920)This relaxes the gluten network to make the dough much more extensible, with less shrink-back and better pan flow and volume control. It is for use in making regular shapes such as hamburger buns with an indent, pizzas or flatbreads with a certain shape and reworking pastry off-cuts. It is cost-effective because only a tiny amount is needed in a bread improver.Solution 1: If you want to relax your dough and get some good pan flow, you can use deactivated yeast (Levuraline), which has a compound that is quite similar to Cysteine.Drawbacks: It’s not the same effect it’s not as instant. With Cysteine in the dough, you can feel it straight out of the mixer an almost chewing gum-like dough. Deactivated yeast works a little later, which means it has a different function in the final effect on the bread. This could be seen as an advantage, because you don’t have an issue at the mixer stage. While it is cheaper than Cysteine, you would have to use a lot more, which costs more. Having said that, it is widely used by pizza and flatbread manufacturers.Solution 2: The enzyme protease is much cheaper. It relaxes the dough by breaking down the proteins, which loses gas retention in the dough.Drawbacks: It is trickier to use. Because it’s an enzyme, it will continue to work, breaking down proteins until it is deactivated during baking. This is not the end of the world if you have a carefully controlled process and you can be confident that, from mixing to baking, it will always take the same time and the same temperature. If your process is not that carefully controlled, avoid it like the plague! Position on additives A blend of functional ingredients, additives and processing aids formulated to fulfil customer requirements, which may: increase or control gas production; increase or control gas retention; modify dough mixing rheology; modify pan flow or moulding characteristics. Improvers typically contain: emulsifiers; fats; soya flour; flour treatment agents (oxidants); and enzymes. Soya flourTypically an ingredient in bread improvers, soya flour contains the enzyme lipoxygenase. It actually makes the bread whiter by bleaching the naturally occurring carotenoid in the wheat. It contains the emulsifier lecithin and is high in protein, which can help the dough. There are allergen considerations, which some retailers are keen to avoid. But while bakers are being drawn to making clean-label products, it’s a useful tool in the armoury. Ascorbic acid has a synergistic effect when used with soya flour. Enzymes: what are they? This is an industry term, generally meaning no ingredients which have to be labelled with an E-number. Those typically used in baking include emulsifiers, such as Data Ester (E472e), distilled monoglyceride (E471) and SSL (E481); preservatives such as Calcium Propionate (E282); flour treatment agents such as L-Cysteine (E920); colours and often artificial or so-called nature-identical flavours.It is important to ask exactly what your customer will and will not allow. Most customers will allow ascorbic acid (E300). ’Cleaner labels’ are shorter, with fewer E-numbers. In bread-making the main focus is on removing artificial preservatives, emulsifiers and L-cysteine hydrochloride. Enzymes are proteins that catalyse reactions. They work on substrates (primarily from flour) in the dough and normally break down the substrate into smaller units by cleaving specific bonds. These breakdown products have the beneficial effect on the dough/bread NOT the enzyme.The enzyme is not used up in the reaction it will continue to work given the correct conditions (time, temperature, pH and sufficient substrate) and variations in dough processing times will change the effect of enzymes. However, it is claimed they are deactivated in baking. These include amylases (derived from malt flour, fungal and bacterial sources), hemicellulases and protease.
The Mad Artists Tea Party is to host a sushi-themed pop up cake shop – Cakes for Japan – to raise funds for the Red Cross, following the devastation caused by the recent tsunami.Professional and amateur cake makers from across London have pledged to donate baked goods, which will be sold at Maiden, on Shoreditch High Street on Friday, 18 March, with 100% of the takings to be donated to charity.Pledges to donate sushi-inspired edible goods have already been made by Molly Bakes (sushi cake pops & cupcakes); Flavor Von Sponge (heart shaped cherry flavoured brownie balls with cherry blossom decoration); The Kooky Cake Company (Japan-inspired cupcakes); Leshie Loves Cake; London Baking; and Cowbridge Cake Company.Any cake makers wishing to take part should email the organiser Ms Cakehead aka Emma Thomas at [email protected] or via: Twitter @miss_cakehead.
Macphie has launched a new range of premium finishings called i-zings. They are made from 100% natural colours and flavours and are available in four “zingy” flavours: summer fruits, orange, pineapple and lime.The ingredients manufacturer suggests using the i-zings to bring a tropical taste to products such as cupcakes, doughnuts, muffins and traybakes.”Colour blocking is a key fashion trend for summer and you can make the most of this on your shelves with ready-to-use i-zings, saving you time and ensuring great results time after time: simply heat and get creative,” said marketing manager, Jania Boyd.The i-zings are available in 5kg pails. To celebrate the launch Macphie is also offering bakers the chance to win the latest i-phone 4. For full details visit www.macphie.com/i-zings.