Associated British Foods has warned that Allied Bakeries has achieved lower volumes than expected, as it prepares to release its interim results.Volumes across Allied’s range of products were affected over the last six months, said a spokesman. Full details of the results will be announced on April 19, when ABF issues its interim results to March 4, 2006.However, performance at Associated British Foods’ AB Mauri division has been more satisfactory, it said in a trading update on February 27.It said: “It will contribute strongly, reflecting a full half year of profit, the benefits of price and volume increases and growth in bakery ingredients. Capacity has been increased in a number of Asian factories and the newly-opened factory in western China is doing well.”British Sugar’s trading in the UK and Poland across the year has been difficult, it said, with price pressure on contracts for this calendar year and sharply higher energy costs. Operating profit for these businesses will be lower than last year as a result. However, this year’s campaigns were excellent in the UK and Poland, and the UK crop is forecast to reach 1.34 million tonnes.
Training continuesGill Brooks Lonican, chief executive of the National Association of Master Bakers (NA)After reading the letter from Elaine Ead (February 9, pg 6) I feel the need to correct a number of inaccuracies.Her comments on the article ’NA takes tough decision to close training section’ (26 January) are somewhat selective.The main omission being that the NA is meeting with a professional company with a view to continuing training for members. The company has indicated that it would wish to retain some of our assessors.Elaine also said that we are losing “the only area to make money”. However, training has made considerable losses for the last seven years, so the NA can hardly be accused of wishing to make “huge profits from it”. It never has and never will be expected to make profit, just not to continue making huge losses.I was pleased not to have increased subscription costs this year. The decision made by the board was a balanced one for the whole of the membership and had to take into account the 800-plus members who do not use training, as well as the 45 members who do.Yes, Elaine is one of the few who pays for training, as she falls outside the government funding criteria. For everyone else it was and is free.This year it was agreed to charge £150 for the paperwork involved in taking on a trainee and this was taken into account when projecting future losses.I will repeat what I have told all members who have learners – the NA guarantees ALL Learners will obtain their qualification AND is committed to finding a solution to the mismanaged training section.BOARD WAS RIGHT Graham Ryder, Peter’s theThe NA board has made the right decision to close the training section. The training section has lost the NA in excess of £250,000. I believe the majority of the membership who do not use the training facility would be quite happy for it to at least break even. But how can anyone in business justify such huge losses?The board is charged with running our association and that does not mean losing all our subscriptions for the minority who use the training, which I understand is less than 5%.Mrs Ead makes the point (9 February, pg 6) that she provides accommodation for her assessor, but not all businesses who use the training can do this. In the accounts of the training company for previous years one of the biggest costs is the assessors’ expenses.Those who attended the last AGM will be aware that redundancies have taken place at head office in an attempt to cut costs, but what is the point of this if all those savings are squandered? I would be interested to see how the training section can make a profit and look forward to Mrs Ead’s suggestions at the next AGM in Harrogate.We all want what is best for our association but, ultimately, it is the board’s decision. Members can, of course, stand as directors if they feel the board should not be taking these sorts of decisions. I am sure the board would welcome input.losses Had to stopTony Phillips, Janes Pantry and NA board member, GloucestershireElaine Ead’s letter about the closure of the training arm of the NA contains many false assumptions. Training has lost the NA well in excess of £250,000. It has been one of the reasons subscriptions have had to rise each year.Had Anglo Welsh, the previous training arm of the NA not been closed down it would have bankrupted the association. When training was taken in-house, it continued to lose money – some £20,000 this year – and this for a service that is used by less than 5% of members.Does Mrs Ead expect the 95% of members not using it to subsidise the 5% that do? No one has ever talked about making huge profits, only not losing money. From day one, it has consistently lost money. The word ’profits’ is a red herring.As for the comment, “Had the board considered the projected income before reaching a decision?”, does Mrs Ead really think all the members of the board are stupid? It was a unanimous decision, reached after great thought and debate.Gill Brooks Lonican is doing a superb job as chief executive of the NA, putting its finances into good order by reducing costs, bringing in monies owed and ensuring efficient administration.I am sorry if I have written in strong terms, but I am tired of some 40 members, out of the whole of the NA, trying to dictate to the majority.
Much has been written and spoken about a crisis in bakery education as witnessed by the decline in the number of colleges offering courses in baking. This is linked to a shortage of skilled bakers and often doomsday predictions about the future of our industry.The decline of traditional bakery education is, however, symptomatic of a larger problem, which is our failure to attract enough young people to join the industry in any position, not just practical baking, and also the failure to deliver training that totally suits the needs of employers. This has led to individual employers, large and small, either setting up or taking part in a large number of different work-based training schemes, which may or may not give the trainee an accredited qualification.All this is set against a changing national background (see opposite). How these targets are to be achieved in practice is currently being worked through and it is in this area that I feel, as an industry, we have to speak with one voice or lose out.Who is going to be influencing the provision of food manufacturing – and specifically bakery – as vocational courses for 14- to 19- year-olds? Who is going to ensure that there are workplace-based accredited training schemes delivering the employee skills that we need? And who is going to ensure that there are training providers and assessors out there actually providing what employees need?The alternative to finding a solution that represents the needs of the baking industry to policy-makers is that we continue as we are – simply talking about the problem. I, for one, hope that the needs of different sections of our industry are not too complex to make a united industry approach to dealing with our sector skills council Improve, the LSC and, if necessary, government.The central principle of the Leitch report is that skills training is led by employers and trainees. This is where Improve comes in – they should determine and satisfy demand, but they can only do so if we, in our industry, tell them what we want.Forming The National Skills Academy for Bakery would help establish the bakery sector’s training needs and act as a hub for the provision of training to meet those needs – for, in all this, the issue is not qualifications, it is the provision of relevant skills training.That provision can be:l college-based and college-led, with college staff operating in the workplace;l workplace training by in-house experts or other external providers;l distance learning in whatever format, including web-based modules and links to schools ±providing vocational courses.If, as an industry, we are to speak with one voice, then the establishment of a centre of bakery excellence as the hub of all training provision is essential. Make your voice heardOver the coming months, we are keen for you to voice your views on what you think The National Skills Academy for Bakery should be for. This is the legislative backdrop, against which the baking industry needs to spring into action. The Leitch reportPublished in December 2006, Lord Leitch’s report is the policy driver on skills and is setting the agenda within the workplace and within colleges and schools. It comes with exacting targets and the threat of introducing a training levy if employers do not embrace the need to increase skills and make significant progress to the targets identified.Government investment in training for adults in England stands at £3 billion. But the report warns: “In order to realise the potential of every citizen we will need to see investment of many times that amount in new skills training and that cannot and should not all come from the government. Between now and 2020, employers and individuals will need to make a sustained and increased investment in improving their respective skill levels.”Leitch is an England-only policy, but it is likely the direction will be followed in all the other UK nations.UK targets include:* Becoming a ’world-leader’ in skills by 2020* 95% of all adults in work to have functional literacy and numeracy skills – this is currently just 76%* 90% of all adults to be at level 2, equivalent to five GCSE passes (now at 52%)* 40% of all adults at level 4 or above, foundation degree standard (10% at present)* 500,000 apprenticeships each year (a doubling of the current number); within bakery there were 96 apprenticeships in the last 12 monthsThe Government will use the following mechanisms to deliver these targets:* Employers are being asked to sign a skills pledge in which the CEO pledges to develop an action plan to deliver increased economically viable skills* ’World-class’ will be measured by the number of adults achieving full qualifications* The route to access this training/funding in England will be through the Train to Gain service, which will be extended to deliver training at levels 3 (A-level passes) and 4* The employers’ voice will be channelled through Improve, the sector skills council (SSC)* The SSC will highlight ’economically valuable’ skills and will have the authority to decide which training courses are eligible for government funding.So the Leitch report and Improve aim to give employers and trainers the route to develop and deliver the required skills. But it also gives the government the mechanism to impose levies, in terms of money or time, if they believe the above targets cannot be met voluntarily.
Planglow has launched Natural Collection, a new range of 100% biodegradable packaging. The bio packaging has been designed in neutral earthy colours, so that it can accompany any existing brand logos or colours.Targeted at businesses that want to introduce eco-friendly packaging to their brand, the collection is made up of a 48-hour Peal & Seal Wedge, Baguette Bag, Tortilla Wrap Pack, Salad Packs and 24-hour sandwich wedge, and includes two matching Natural labels. Available in boxes of 500, the Tortilla Wrap Pack has a tuck-top and is suitable for 24-hour use. The Salad Packs are sold in boxes of 250.Natural Collection packaging is also compostable, and the clear window is made from polylactic acid (PLA) which is derived from cornstarch, and a new bio-compostable alternative to plastic. The packs contain an eco-friendly coating which is also 100% biodegradable, compostable and recyclable.[http://www.planglow.com]
Peter’s pies will now be enjoyed by football fans visiting Charlton Athletic Football Club, which has started stocking its products.Peter’s Food Services, based in Caerphilly, Wales, already stocks a number of its pies at football grounds across the UK and has also recently launched a new range of premier pies, pasties and sausage rolls. The company spent two years and 100,000 on the new Premier Pie range, which, it said, “has already proven popular”.“Pies and football are synonymous with each other, and after increasing pie sales at other grounds by 33% this year, we are confident of achieving something similar at Charlton through our focused approach to marketing and product experience in stadiums,” said James Osgood, marketing director at Peter’s.Paul Ellison, Charlton AFC food and hospitality manager, commented: “We are very pleased to start a partnership with Peter’s based on great products and service and are looking forward to developing new ways of serving our fans at The Valley.”
l It pays to have several suppliers, so you can negotiate better deals. We buy our flour from ADM, Heygates and Marriages – it keeps them on their toesl Join the NAMB. The members’ discount on building insurance alone covered my membership fee.l Recognise what is working in the business and be brave enough to drop those that aren’t. Bath buns and rock cakes were the mainstay of my father’s business, but we now do muffins insteadl If we want well-trained bakers, we need to take a chance with people, whether they are youngsters or older people who are looking to change careers. Get them in, see if they’ve got natural ability and teach them what you knowl Hold your nerve. There’s no point reducing prices like the supermarkets. Stick to what you do best – good quality products, made by hand, at a sensible price
A well-respected baker has been tasked with driving the design of new industry training courses developed by the National Skills Academy (NSA) for Food and Drink Manufacturing, part of sector skills council Improve.Ian Thomson, a second generation Master Baker and proprietor of Thomson’s bakery in Newcastle, has been appointed chairman of the NSA’s bakery steering group, which is made up of leading industry employers and stakeholders.The steering group works alongside the NSA bakery network, a group of top-quality learning providers that specialise in training for the baking industry, in shaping the development of training programmes to ensure they respond to employers’ needs, with relevant content and an appropriate method of delivery.Thomson takes over as NSA bakery steering group chairman from former Finsbury Foods boss Dave Brooks, whose tenure came to an end at the start of the year. Alongside wife Jan, Thomson has run Thomson’s Bakery for the past 30 years, after taking over from his parents who established the business in 1956. The firm has grown to become one of the leading artisan bakeries in the north-east, employing a workforce of 15 and making a variety of specialist breads and cakes for a diverse range of customers. As well as managing Thomson’s full-time, Thomson has worked as a bakery lecturer at Newcastle College, and also enjoyed a term as chairman of the National Association of Master Bakers Training and Education Committee. “The bakery steering group has a great responsibility, but also a wonderful opportunity to restore bakery employers’ faith in training and skills delivery,” said Thomson. “The myriad of different national training programmes over the past 20 years or so has led to confusion amongst employers, and the sector no longer has a culture of training embedded in it. “We all know that this situation isn’t sustainable – training is vital to boost productivity and profitability, and to ensure that our skills are passed down through future generations. The NSA provides us with a clean sheet from which to start from scratch – to look at what employers want and need, and to make sure that it can be delivered.” The NSA bakery network is currently in the process of developing a new entry-level training course. The steering group is working with network champion Campden BRI, along with Leeds Thomas Danby and other network providers, to develop the course, which will be available from September. The qualifications delivered by the course will ultimately be accredited within the new Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), a flexible system that allows employers to build tailored training programmes for their staff, based on individual units of assessment covering job-specific skills and competencies. The introduction of the QCF, which is being led by Improve, marks the most far-reaching reform of vocational qualifications in the past 20 years. The units of assessment are being developed by employer technical groups, and Thomson is a member of the group responsible for shaping the bakery units. He said: “Any new course that we develop through the NSA must deliver nationally accredited qualifications in order to have worth among employers and employees. The introduction of the QCF is a very positive step, as it recognises that no two companies and no two trainees are the same, and it provides the flexibility for employers to put in place tailored skills development plans for their staff. “We have been fortunate in that the initial work of the NSA bakery network is coinciding with the introduction of the QCF. This gives the industry a great deal of power in developing new qualifications that reflect the everyday needs of the workplace.”
Pret A Manger and M&S’ commitment to using sustainably caught tuna in sandwiches is likely to lead to supply problems, as fishermen struggle to meet the sudden switch in demand.Earlier this month, both retailers announced that net-caught tuna would be replaced in their sandwiches by more sustainable pole-and-line caught fish, with Sainsbury’s, the Co-op and Morrisons also working to reduce the amount of net-caught tuna they sell.But according to tuna trading company Atuna, the sudden shift is “unrealistic” given the relatively small number of fishermen using pole-and-line methods.”Less than 10% of the world tuna catch is done by pole-and-liners nowadays. A large-scale shift to the method would implicate a major turnaround within the global tuna industry and would require major financial investment in training and personnel by fishing companies and the construction of new vessels fitted for pole-and-line fishing,” said Natalia Freitas, a spokesperson for Atuna. “Pole-and-line tuna already costs 50% more than net-caught, but if everyone decides to switch at once, the costs are likely to go even higher. Retailers will negotiate really hard with their suppliers because nobody wants to accept reduced margins and it will not affect small fishermen in a good way.”The switch by retailers to pole-and-line caught tuna was prompted by a new film – The End of the Line – which criticises net fishing for being unsustain-able. Environmental campaigners say that while stocks of skip- jack and yellowfin tuna are sus- tainable, indiscriminate ’purse seine’ net fishing results in a high level of by-catch, including endangered bluefin tuna, sharks and turtles.
Jesus appears on a naan bread (again)… http://bit.ly/5HEwH4 Yet more geeky Star Wars cake creativity… http://bit.ly/8IS04K How do you make a cake worthy of Elvis’ 75th birthday (he’s still alive, you know)? http://bit.ly/8B2Qk7 Can you really sell a cupcake for $10,000? Er, no… http://bit.ly/8431Vi Why we still want to eat a high-calorie pud after a meal… http://bit.ly/8sEAuk How tall is Britain’s biggest wedding cake? Is 9ft big enough for you? http://bit.ly/8NfmC9
Top apprenticeMartins Foods employee Sunè Brunton has gained national newspaper coverage after being name Advanced Apprentice of the Year at the National Apprenticeship Awards this month. She joined the bakery in 2004 and has since developed new products for major retailers, including Asda and Sainsbury’s, helping the business expand its customer base. She has been accepted to study for an MSc in Food Safety at the University of Central Lancashire.Chinese influenceChina is the fourth-largest country in terms of retail sales and held the second position for new product launches in the global bakery and cereals market last year, with more than 1,500 new product launches, according to Datamonitor. Its report, Product Insights: Bakery and Cereals in China, says that the key to success is adapting to local Chinese tastes and offering flavours ranging from peanut and black sesame seeds to Peking duck and Shanghai crab.Skills for small firms New skills courses designed to boost innovation and growth are being launched for small business owners and managers in the north west. Applicants can choose from a menu of skills facilitated by talks, tutorials, practical work and self-directed study in the workplace. To find out more contact: [email protected] researchWheat breeder RAGT is conducting research into how different types of wheat could have an effect on how much salt is needed in bread. Initial results suggest it doesn’t necessarily follow that the current, good breadmaking varieties will have the right characteristics for baking with a lower salt content.