Asda baker Brian Highfield has been working 12-hour days at the supermarket’s recently launched Brech Road store in Liverpool. The store only opened on November 16 and it is all hands on deck as staff make sure everything is just right for customers. But after his 6am start, and a busy day baking, Brian does not go home and put his feet up. Instead, he heads to the gym for a three-hour cardiovascular workout. It is a relentless regime and on top of that Brian reveals he has not taken a single day’s holiday this year. It sounds like madness, but Brian is not crazy. Charity climbHe is in training to climb the world’s tallest mountain, Mount Everest, to raise money for Scope, the cerebral palsy charity. He has been saving up his holiday allowance for the adventure.The 47-year-old will fly to India and then on to Kathmandu on February 19 as part of a team of 40 people Scope is sending out. The intrepid baker will make the 21-day trek up Everest carrying only a small rucksack with a first aid kit and other essentials. The rest of his provisions will be conveyed by yak train. The bulk of Everest is in China and the Chinese government is “fussy” about letting Westerners go all the way up to the 29,000ft peak, he reports. But he will be allowed up to a dizzying 24,000ft. Brian is disappointed that he will miss the “death zone”, the part above 26,000 ft. No retiring typeConquering Everest will be the pinnacle of Brain’s career as a climber. ‘Retirement age’ for mountaineers is around 50, although he is still hoping to get up Kilimanjaro. After that he plans to restrict his extra-curricular activities to jungle safaris.Brian has already climbed the UK’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis, which is over 4,000ft and he has been up Mount Blanc in France. On both occasions he raised money for a cystic fibrosis charity. He was inspired to support the work of Scope while working in the bakery at Asda’s Walton store, before he was posted to the new Brech Road store. He was moved by the “little lad” of Asda’s Walton store manager, who suffers from cerebral palsy. Brain says: “I feel it’s easy for able-bodied people to do anything we want to do. We should do more for disabled people.”So far Brian has raised £2,700 but hopes to increase that to well over £3,500, with continued support from Asda colleagues. That’s why Brian will wear clothing displaying the Asda logo on the mountain. He is open to offers from other companies wishing to sponsor him!- To contact Brian call 0151 264 6100.
Canada’s market leader in industrial baking is tipped to be pushing further into the UK with the purchase of Walsall’s Harvestime (2005) bakery.Industry giant Maple Leaf Foods, which operates Canada Bread and owns the New York Bagel brand, is understood to have entered negotiations with administrators last week.It is now in the process of completing due diligence on the site, where it would be likely to produce bake-off lines and discontinue plant bread, industry sources told British Baker. Its lawyers are believed to be working round the clock to finalise a bid by a deadline of today.Maple Leaf is believed to be competing against a second potential buyer, former New Rathbones director Jonathan Price. He is believed to have been negotiating with administrators and the site’s landlord over terms of the lease for the past few weeks. Both buyers have been given until today (March 24) to complete on the deal.Maple Leaf Foods has already established three New York Bagel Company sites in the UK – in Rotherham, Southend and Cumbria – which employ 260 people. It closed its Peterborough site last year.Maple Leaf Food’s Canada Bread subsiduary is a leading manufacturer and marketer of value-added flour-based products and its range includes fresh bread, rolls, bagels and sweet goods, frozen par-baked breads and bagels, and specialty pasta and sauces. Canada Bread employs more than 7,000 people in the United States, Canada and the UK.
We breathed a sigh of relief at the Chief Medical Officer’s recent intervention to stall the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) proposal to fortify bread with folic acid.The move was triggered by a review in the British Journal of Nutrition. This found it was wrong of the FSA to assume folic acid would behave the same as the natural form of the B vitamin, folate.It turns out that unmetabolised folic acid appears in the body after eating just one slice of fortified bread and then accumulates as more is eaten. This is a huge concern, as many negative effects are associated with unmetabolised folic acid: cancer, mental decline in the elderly, more multiple births among women having fertility treatment (which have higher health risks), and reduced success of anti-folate drug treatment.These surely outweigh the tiny predicted reduction in neural tube defects (NTD) – 22-36 fewer NTD births each year, plus up to 110 fewer terminations – that was the sole objective of fortification.It is worrying how the FSA’s ’science-based’ proposal was actually based on assumptions. This seems to be a repeat of the situation with other vitamins, where natural and artificial nutrient sources were wrongly assumed to have the same effects.
An Anglesey farmer is to open an artisan flour mill in the autumn, which will supply local craft bakers with wheat and barley flour.Huw Owen, of Bodelwa Farm, Ty Croes, is investing £80,000 in a small Austrian-made stone mill, with funding support from the island’s regeneration agency Mentor Mon, which will be used to make flour from crops grown on his farm. A small oil press for making rapeseed oil will also be included at the facility.Traditionally, Owen has grown feed-quality grain for sale to local cattle farmers, but this year he has drilled additional mill varieties. Of the 250 acres of arable, 15 acres have been put down to oil seed rape, 18 acres to mill wheat, five acres to naked barley (without hulls) and three acres to linseed.Bethesda bakery Popty Cae Groes already makes a popular barley bread and is keen to work with Bodelwa in the future, with other local bakeries also interested in sourcing locally-produced flour. Anglesey was known as ‘the bread basket of Wales’ before the Second World War, due to its large arable farms and windmills, but the post-war arrival of subsidies saw a dramatic switch from crops to livestock.Owen hopes to revive the island’s former glories with the new business, while receiving a better return for his crops. He said: “Selling on the commodity markets is a bit of a rollercoaster. One year you can get £180/tonne for barley and the next the price has dropped to £80, which hardly covers your costs. So this project is an attempt to stabilise the business and take greater control.”
The former head of Rich’s North Ame-rican Food-service Divi-sion, Ted Rich (right), has been named as the new MD of Rich UK, and will be relocating from the US to England with his family later this month.Rich UK’s former MD George Thomopoulos has moved across to take up a new role as chairman of the UK company.Thomopoulos made the decision to shift away from managing the day-to-day aspects of the business, but sales and marketing director Simon Richardson said the firm “will continue to take advantage of his tremendous knowledge and experience”.
Fairy cakes are old news – the future is cupcakes! Craft bakeries, cafés and high street retailers across the country are joining forces to celebrate the UK’s first-ever National Cupcake Week, from September 14th-19th. National Cupcake Week is being served up by British Baker to celebrate the growing popularity of the cupcake and to help the industry to market its products.As well as fervent support from independent bakeries and cafés, major food retailers will be fuelling the nation’s cupcake boom. Both Waitrose and Marks & Spencer are supporting National Cupcake Week with in-store branding and British Baker is staging a window display competition for bakeries and cafés.British Baker’s inaugural Cupcake-off competition to find the best cupcakes in the UK is also reaping rewards for the winning cupcake makers – each of whom will represent one day of National Cupcake Week – with media appearances arranged throughout the week.Persuade your customers to put the diet on hold and get involved by buying at least one cupcake during the week. Or even better, one every day. Don’t worry, it’s National Cupcake Week – it’s allowed!
Northern Foods has announced it is to plough £26.5m into its Fox’s Biscuits brand in an investment that could see new automated technology replace hundreds of jobs.In order to “ensure it has the most appropriate biscuit facilities to remain competitive”, Northern Foods will introduce automated technology at its Batley, Kirkam and Uttoexter sites, resulting in a reduction of approximately 220 employees. According to the firm, these will be “mainly through voluntary redundancy”.In a statement of its half-year results, the company said key investments over the next 18 months would include a new Creams line at Kirkham, new automation for its Melts line at Batley and a new wrapping system at Uttoxeter. However, it said its overall objective was to “transition” from three sites to two. “Once this current investment is completed in the first quarter of our 2011/12 financial year, further phases of investment will be benchmarked against those investment opportunities available to Northern Foods at the time,” read the statement.Like-for-like sales for the 26 weeks ended 26 September 2009 grew 2.9%, with strong growth in its Chilled and Bakery divisions. Total sales hit £466.9m (H1 2008/09: £468.6m).Within Chilled, its sandwich sales were driven by the early summer weather, its new discount range for Tesco and other customers, plus additional sandwich volumes supplied into Marks & Spencer.Divisional revenue within Bakery rose 3.9% with profits up 26.2% to £8.2m (H1 2008/09: £6.5m). A planned £2m spend on a marketing campaign for its Matthew Walker pudding brand will be launched ahead of the Christmas period.
Kingsmill has spotted a gap in the market and filled it with a new smooth loaf, baked with oats and wheat, branded Oatilicious. The firm said it has looked to what’s popular within the breakfast cereal market and has applied it to bread. “Oat-led products, combining the goodness of wholegrain oats with great taste, are already popular in other categories, but Kingsmill Oatilicious is the first branded loaf of its kind in the bread category,” said Michael Harris, Kingsmill marketing controller. Hitting the shelves this month, the loaf will be supported by a £1.3m marketing campaign. Looking at the health trend, research by Kingsmill revealed that 22% of food choices are made with health benefits in mind. However, as Kingsmill believed the health benefits of oats are well-known to consumers, it felt it should concentrate on the ’taste’ message when marketing.The loaf has been developed to fit into the ’healthier white’ segment of the market, now worth £186.5m (source: Nielsen).Taste tests showed consumers’ opinion of the product improved once they had tasted it, compared to their perception of what it might be like beforehand.
Next year will see British Baker launch the first Bakers’ Fair Spring, a new exhibition to cater for businesses in the south.Taking place on Sunday, 10 April 2011 at Newbury Racecourse, Berkshire, the show follows the success of Bakers’ Fair Autumn, which attracted over 400 visitors to Bolton this year. It will feature talks, live competitions, and a host of exhibitors showcasing ingredients, finished products and equipment.Visit the website www.bakersfair.co.uk for full details on the fair, visitor registration and exhibitor information.
Danish firm A/S Wodschow & Co has added two new Ergo Bear series hygienic mixers to its range, primarily for use in large-scale industrial bakeries.The new mixers have a larger capacity than the existing Ergos, said the firm.The Ergo 60 VL-4 and Ergo 100 VL-4 industrial mixers are available with all the typical benefits and extra accessories of Bear Varimixer’s other products. Other features include a titled front panel with ’piezo’ buttons to ensure a better overview and faster operation, said Wodschow.The new models can achieve shorter processing, and a faster bowl change facility which does not involve manual lifting.There is also a horizontally-opening safety guard which is removable and dishwasher-safe