The EB range of automatic-fill water boilers incorporates an easy-to-use de-scale system, says Lincat (Lincoln).Steam emissions are reduced by way of an internal condensing function and the boilers are supplied with spill trays and stainless steel backs as standard.Offering boiling hot water, 24 hours a day, they are suitable for front-of-house, as well as behind the scenes in busy bakeries.
Thanks to EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou for providing the inspiration for this column. That’s because when he launched the European Commission’s new strategy for tackling the health issues related to poor diet and low levels of physical activity, Kyprianou laid down an interesting challenge to our industry.”What consumers eat is up to them, but they should be able to make informed choices and have healthy options to choose from,” he said. “That is why the Commission is reviewing nutrition labelling and calling on industry to advertise responsibly and reduce levels of salt, fats and sugar.”As far are the UK is concerned, the Commissioner will find himself pushing at an open door. We are leading the rest of Europe in all of these areas, showing how self-regulation can deliver the right results for consumers. Take salt – where bakers have been at the forefront of reformulation efforts. No doubt inspired by the activity in the UK – where industry, the FSA and the government are working together on this issue – the Commission wants to facilitate the roll-out of salt campaigns in the EU.The Commission is also keen to develop campaigns to change the nutrient content of manufactured foods in the EU. It wants to initiate a study to explore the potential for reformulation and provide a baseline to assess progress. Here, I would stress how important it is that the research goes back far enough to capture all the work already done by industry; or else we will not get the credit we deserve. And that’s my challenge to Kyprianou and the Commission.
Australia pudding manufacturer Pudding Lane is to branch into the UK market by launching three new Christmas desserts.The New South Wales-based company, claimed to be Australia’s largest producer of ’boiled in the cloth’ puddings, is targeting upmarket retailers such as Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges.It will launch three puddings – Macadamia and Brandy, traditional Christmas Pudding, and Date and Toffee Log – at the Speciality Fine Food Fair at London Olympia between 2 and 4 September.
Such is the pace of change in the spy vs spy world of supermarket buying, that the greatest delight in developing new products comes in creeping up and mugging a competitor with a category first.So what’s the number one way for a supplier to irk a buyer from Waitrose – the retailer that’s carved out its niche by offering something a bit distinctive and uncommon? Offering them sloppy seconds.”With Waitrose being such a unique retailer, we’re always looking for something very special, very different, while keeping it clean and keeping the packaging as environmental as we possibly can,” says cake buyer Sam Witherington, who insists that proof of a successful product elsewhere is not the way to a Waitrose buyer’s heart. “Quite often, we’re approached by a supplier and they’ll send us something that’s working particularly well in a competitor. You instantly know that it’s never going to work for us.”While all buyers, including Witherington, admit to snooping on their rivals, they all want something new and different. So identikit products popping up in rivals’ stores within a few weeks must be somewhat annoying. “We know that some of what we launched in May is already out there in our competitors’ outlets,” exclaims Witherington, whose remit covers pre-packed cakes, Christmas products and sliced bread. Such is the dog-chasing-tail world of supermarket buying, that a buyer’s work is never done. “It moves on very very quickly and already we’re looking at how we can take what we launched in May and change it for later in the year.”The same is no doubt true of the flipside – Waitrose’s recently launched tub formats, including Cornflake Cluster Bites, Mini Flapjack Bites, Chocolate Mini Rolls and Caramel Crispy Bites, have more than a whiff of M&S about them.So what’s so different about them? Waitrose’s devil is in the details. “We use low sodium cornflakes and – unless [M&S] has changed the product recently – we have a thicker coating of chocolate. It’s that type of detail that makes us slightly different,” she says.Anyway, talk of M&S is a bit of a red herring, as Waitrose prefers to price-match against Sainsbury’s. These days, though, Waitrose is certainly having to compete head-on with all the major retailers for its slice of the premium and speciality cake market. This makes it more challenging to differentiate the offer – and it’s something Waitrose takes great pains over, especially in communicating the products’ credentials.”We talk as much as we can about the recipe and product on packaging and in publications. We’ll do tastings in-store. We want customers to see the product and be able to taste it. We’re very fortunate in that our in-store partners are very informed about the products we sell and they will feed back to us, so we can make sure there is enough information about that product as we can give.”May’s cakes relaunch, which featured revamped packaging with more on-pack product stories and product visibility, has bucked some forecasts of consumers trading down, propelling Waitrose’s cake sales up by 30%. “We were conscious that we were launching just as people were tightening their belts,” she recalls. “Obviously we wanted people to invest initially in what could be a risky purchase.” That paid off on the back of promotions and tastings.Nevertheless, suppliers must be more conscious than ever that indulgent products justify the price – and not to ignore the tricky entry-level price point, which poses the greatest challenge: having to satisfy indul- gence, clean label and reasonable shelf-life demands amid rising costs. And, of course it’s got to be different from the rest.One product where it has worked is the now-ubiquitous cupcake. “Cupcakes have had a phenomenal burst of life in a number of retailers,” says Witherington. “But every cupcake that came in to us just wasn’t right.”In our chocolate cupcake we wanted a chocolate sauce deposit. We wanted a buttercream. We didn’t want a standard iced product. We wanted fruit pieces in a strawberry cupcake base. We wanted a really tangy lemon curd in our lemon cupcake. And we’ve achieved it with a very small supplier, who is very happy to do it.”That supplier is Esher-based The Cookie Man, which produces for Waitrose own-label. “We have a very strong existing supply base, but there are inevitably going to be suppliers out there doing different products in a small niche market that would fit Waitrose perfectly,” explains Witherington.A word of caution to prospective suppliers, however: don’t turn up to sales pitch with ’Taste the Difference’ emblazoned on your goods. She says: “Some people can be quite insistent that, because it’s worked for another retailer, it’s got to work for Waitrose! It’s sometimes difficult for suppliers to understand quite how different a Waitrose customer profile is.”—-=== Sam Witherington at a glance ===CV: A placement at high street retailer Robert Dyas, while at Huddersfield University, preceded a three-year stint at Superdrug; Witherington joined Waitrose 10 years ago, first as non-food buyer, then for the past 2½ years, as the buyer for packaged cakes, Christmas lines and sliced breadsRole: “The jump from non-food to fresh was a bigger jump than I’d ever imagined. Seasonality was never much of a factor in non-food. It’s phenomenal the amount of time it takes to prepare for Christmas. Having gone through that pain I can now say I enjoy it!”Pastimes: “I’ve been eating so many cakes for the past year that I’ve invested in gym membership. I’m cycling or going to the gym three times a week now. You have to, just to shed the additional stone you put on with the cake.”Getting listed: Contact should be made initially with a phone call or an email. Give a full outline of your company and products, and follow that up with samples.Suppliers’ notes: “If we’re expected to charge a lot for a product, that has to be blatantly obvious in the taste delivery and in what we can say about the product.”Tips for the future: For the past year she has been developing the Christmas lines, eradicating additives and non-free-range egg (more details in BB soon). Next up, Waitrose will be developing more convenience and snacking-type products across the business. Witherington will also be updating recipes to make popular own-label sliced breads completely additive-free.—-=== Waitrose buyer BOGOF ===Why meet one buyer when you can meet two? Bread buyer James Dickson tells BB that the redevelopment of Waitrose’s Italian breads and hearty English breads are helping to reposition the range. “We didn’t previously have a lot of premium own-label exposure [for traditional English breads]. We had an entry-level range, which we’ve taken out,” he says. “That space has been taken by more premium products.”He expects a set of four dome-shaped cobs, launched in February – which includes a pumpkin seed cob with cumin running through it – to come into its own in the autumn. The cobs and the Italian breads are made by Slough-based Montana Bakery and the organic seeded bloomer by Nicholas & Harris in Salisbury.He also launched a big-selling organic pre-sliced multi-seeded loaf, and a bread range marketed as a savoury accompaniment to cheese. He says: “Through the summer we are seeing good sales from the Italian sector; come the winter we expect English breads to take over.”
Damsons, a sub-species of plum, were first cultivated around the Syrian capital city of Damascus and, as such, are also known as the Damascus plum. They were brought to Britain by the Romans and then introduced to North America by English settlers. These small oval fruits, with a dark blue skin and a yellow/green flesh, are very tart and, when cooked, give off a dark purple juice. The Lyth valley in the north-west of England is well-known for growing damsons. Apart from being used in jams, chutneys and as an alternative to sloes in gin, they are also good used in pies, crumbles, cobblers and baked sponge puddings.Because they have stones, which although not difficult are laborious to remove when raw, they are easier to use when cooked and sieved. They have such an intense flavour that this purée can be added to other late summer/autumn fruits, such as apples, plums and blackberries. Alternatively, remove the stones from the damsons, mix with chopped Bramley apples and spices to make a strudel, or put the same mixture between shortcrust pastry on a pie plate for a variation of the more traditional blackberry and apple pie. They can also be made into muffins by stoning them and cutting the flesh into dice before adding to the basic mixture.Season: end of August – mid-OctoberBy Fiona Burrell, co-author of Leiths Baking Bible, from the world-famous Leiths School of Food and Wine
Foodservice company 3663 is adding a number of products to its Whites range. Three new pavé loaves – perene, walnut and multigrain – are based on a rustic-style French bread.They are suitable for sandwiches or to accompany soups. They need to defrost for 90 minutes at room temperature and are then baked for 11 minutes at 200?C. All are delivered in 9x450g packs.Whites has also added a Belgian chocolate cheesecake to its line-up. The cheesecake is sold frozen and is pre-cut into 14 portions. Each portion should be defrosted for two to three hours in a refrigerator at around 5ºC.[http://www.3663.co.uk]
Warburtons has launched a new range of Lunch Rolls. The product comes in three varieties – white, wholemeal and grains & seeds – and has a more ‘hand-crafted’ look, according to the company.Sarah Miskell, category director at Warburtons, said: “Currently, 28% of bakery is consumed at the in-home lunch occasion and this is growing year-on-year. Our consumer research told us that shoppers were looking for soft rolls suitable for soup or sandwiches in a variety of flavours, with the assurance of Warburtons’ quality and long-lasting freshness, so this is what we have given them.”She said the launch also gave the company the opportunity to redesign the packaging on its rolls range to create greater impact on-shelf. Sliced Rolls and Premium Rolls packs now have new-look packaging so consumers can identify the quality and type of roll more easily.Warburtons’ Lunch Rolls are available in packs of six, with an RRP of £1.10. The launch will be supported with consumer PR and throughout National Bread Week, from 4-10 May.
Bridport-based Leakers Bakery has triumphed at this year’s Taste of Dorset competition, picking up the accolade for Best Artisan Baker.The bakery has decided to celebrate its win with a special range of themed cupcakes to be sold during National Cupcake Week this week.Rick Payne, marketing manager for Hall and Woodhouse Brewery, who judged the category said that Leakers “epitomises everything that is local, fresh, healthier and seasonal”. On the win, Leakers’ chief, Caroline Parkins said: “We’re delighted – it’s heart warming to be given this approval for what we do – the team here are extremely hardworking and it’s great to receive recognition both from the judge and our customers.”Bridport itself picked up the Best Town or Village for Local Food category, which was judged by Fudges and Somerset Distillery.Leakers Bakery produces a range of breads, savouries, cakes biscuits, pastries and croissants all of which are hand-crafted and baked on the premises.
There are many recipes for gingerbread, varying from decorated biscuits that are made into shapes, as in gingerbread men, to pale dry-ish cakes, which need a good thick spreading of butter or dark, moist sticky cakes, which last well and do not need any help in the way of icing or butter.The recipe below is for the dark sticky type of gingerbread. The flavour comes not only from the spices, but also from the amount of black treacle, which contributes to the colour and stickiness of the cake.The recipe can be made using raisins, dried apricots, dried pears, dried apples or other dried fruit, but it is also very successful left plain. This recipe uses drained tinned pears, which tend to sing a bit, but it is a great combination. The joy of this cake is that it seems to improve upon keeping for up to a week and if anything becomes more moist.Dark, Sticky GingerbreadIngredientsButter225gSoft light brown sugar225gBlack treacle225gPlain flour340gGround ginger2 tspGround cinnamon1 tbspEggs, beaten2Tinned pears (drained weight), chopped225gMilk300mlBicarbonate of soda2 tspMethod1. Melt the butter, sugar and treacle in a saucepan over a low heat. Do not allow to boil.2. Sift the flour with the spices into a mixing bowl, add the pears, if using, and make a well in the centre. Pour in the melted mixture with the eggs. Warm the milk to blood heat, add the bicarbonate of soda and stir into the mixture. Stir well and pour the mixture into a 30x20cm/12 x 8in roasting tin, lined with greased greaseproof paper.3. Bake in the centre of the oven, at 150C, for about 1-1½ hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.4. Cover the top with a piece of greaseproof paper if left in for over an hour.5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes, then turn out of tin to cool completely.6. When cold, cut the gingerbread into squares.
Sales growth in the chilled quiche market was sluggish last year, with consumers put off by the product’s dated image and uninspiring flavours.The UK spent £140m on chilled quiche in the past year, but the category has only seen growth of 0.5% year-on-year (Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 20 March 2011).According to the Happy Egg Co, which has launched two new quiches made with free-range eggs in 600 Tesco Express stores, the market has historically suffered from being heavily promoted and has struggled to move with the times.“While there are some retail offerings that contain free-range eggs, our consumer research identified that this is often not clear to shoppers. “Shoppers who didn’t buy quiche also told us that their views of quiche remained largely stuck in the 1970s with the help yourself buffet, that mainstream flavours were uninspiring, and that the premium branded offerings were simply too expensive,” said Rob Newell, head of brands. “We’re looking to inject some fun and enthusiasm into what has become a rather innocuous product.” The first two products to be launched are Mature Cheddar and Maple-cured Bacon, and Smoked Salmon & Fresh Spinach. The 400g products retail for £2.79, while a 150g format is also available.