Quiche manufacturer Thomas Food Group is launching a major investment programme to take a bigger slice of the premium quiche market.The company is building a 2,500sq ft extension at its factory in Sheffield and putting in new production lines and machinery at its Meadowbrook Bakery in Milton Keynes.The £1.5m development programme will boost production capacity for pastry products, which it provides almost exculsively under own label to supermarkets such as Morrisons and Asda.A spokesman said: “The company already makes a number of premium quiches but believes there is big potential in expanding this sector. It will also introduce new recipes.”Entrepreneur and chairman Bill Hazeldean bought the business through Food Investment Group last year.
(Bromley, Kent), a Lakeland Dairies company, makes cream which can be used on Christmas desserts.Simon Muschamp, head of marketing at Pritchitts, says: “During the festive season, customers seek comfort food due to the colder weather, and are more willing to treat and indulge themselves.So your Christmas offering should be full of indulgent desserts, such as chocolate roulade decorated with holly, cream-filled brandy snaps and cheesecake.” Millac Gold and Roselle Supreme taste just like fresh cream but have the benefit of a long ambient shelf-life, eliminating the need for chilled storage, says the firm. Both are available in one-litre packs for pouring or whipping.
Two “professional burglars” who repeatedly targeted bakery chain Oddies’ shops in East Lancashire could be facing jail terms.Burnley Magistrates heard how Paul Ludlam, 34, of Ardwick Street, Burnley, and Keith Kavanagh, 40, of Fleet Street, Nelson, were partners in crime at five separate raids at the 15-shop chain.Ludlam admitted eight burglaries and asked for 21 to be considered. Co-defendant Kavanagh pleaded guilty to four allegations.The pair were committed to Burnley Crown Court for sentencing on 1 June, after the bench said its powers of punishment were not sufficient.Oddies’ sales manager Ian Dempsey told British Baker that the pair had managed to break into five different shops by remo-ving slates and climbing through the roofs.They were eventually caught inside a shop after neighbours heard a disturbance.Dempsey commented: “They got a bit of money from the first shop, but we don’t really keep money in the shops. The problem now lies in repairing the damage they have caused.”
Bakery employers often find it extremely difficult to find the time or money to send their workers on essential training courses. So we have been busy thinking of ways in which we can help.Do you need to get your new staff up to speed on basic hygiene? Or need to refresh existing staff on the latest regulations? If the answer is yes to either of these questions, the NA’s new online training system may be able to help. All you need is a computer, speakers and a broadband connection. The package teaches bakers basic hygiene, while testing them at the same time. If they get questions wrong in the module, they have to redo it.We think there are many advantages with this system and we have tried to keep the costs of this down as much possible. It gives staff the flexibility to train by either using the computer in the bakery or at home, so saves you the cost of sending employees to college or the cost of hiring a private company to do the training.As more skilled EU workers are coming into the country and are working in bakeries, we have responded. As of 1 May, the certificate and training became available in Polish. We are looking into doing the same with Portuguese.The certificate has been approved by the Royal Institute of Public Health. The English version costs £30.26 inc VAT per candidate and £28.40 inc VAT for 10 or more candidates. The Polish version Basic Hygiene Course is £36.13 inc VAT per candidate and £34.27 inc VAT for 10 or more candidates.
The Bright Idea Handbook: Which? essential guides, £10.99By Michael GardnerThis is definitely a book worth getting hold of before you enter the proverbial Dragons’ Den with a half-baked bakery business idea.Very much geared towards the budding entrepreneur, The Bright Idea Handbook offers a step-by-step guide to getting a product, brand or business idea from conception to market.In setting up a new business, Gardner stresses the value of gathering market information by conducting research, suggesting the best ways to brief a market research agency, getting the lowdown on your competitors and knowing how to target your audience through advertising, sponsorships, PR and the web.There are simple explanations of how to cost your product, the options available for manufacturing, financing the whole thing and legally protecting your venture.Also contained within are useful snippets – such as the difference between cost pricing and value pricing – and how marketing and pricing are inextricably linked to a product’s success.
Northern Foods has said its contract to supply British Airways (BA) from April 2010 is still in place, despite the airline car-rier’s decision to axe meals on its short-haul flights.Northern Foods had announced it had signed a 10-year contract, in December last year, to supply the airline with sandwiches, salads and a small biscuits offering on its short-haul flights from London Heathrow, from 1 April 2010.Andrew Hanson, head of corporate communications at Northern Foods, told British Baker: “The bottom line is that the contract remains in place and we will be responding to their needs.”He explained that the firm had been aware that BA had been looking at its catering requirements for some time.
Congratulations to John Gordon of coffee accessory supplier Gorilla Tampers in London, who was judged the UK’s best barista at the recent UK Barista Championship, after impressing with his drink-making dexterity. But without wishing to put a damper on this tamper, Stop the Week has seen a glimpse of the future, and it’s one in which this latte artist could be out of a job. Ukranian Oleksiy Pikalo has invented a printer that ’prints’ logos or designs on to frothy coffee using a thin layer of caramel spray. He is reported as saying, “If you’ve got a picture of it, it’s a safe bet we can print it”. This cumbersome-looking gizmo is yet to make it into production, but it’s only a matter of time before the machines take over. We’ve all seen the Terminator films. If further evidence were needed, someone has taught a desktop PC to automatically make a coffee.l See: www.inventorsdigest.com
Scottish firm Tunnocks has invested £4m in new machinery to improve efficiency at its Uddingston site, which produces caramel wafers and teacakes.The firm spent £2m on new machinery earlier this year, including two foiling machines, two flow packs and a robotic case packer. MD Boyd Tunnock told British Baker the firm then spent another £2m on a state-of-the-art robotics system from Schubert to pack its teacakes. “We already had four wrapping machines, but Schubert supplied the feeding systems to these, as well as the robotic packer,” explained Boyd, adding that efficiency has now gone up by 20-25%, but importantly it will allow the firm to maintain its current prices.Boyd said the main change had been to its teacake production, with five fewer people needed on the floor per shift. But he said the firm had not made any redundancies and was looking to move from a double shift per day, to three shifts, five days a week. It employs 550 staff, and turned over around £35m last year.
Oil spill fine for DawnDawn Foods has been fined £23,500 and ordered to pay £7,950 costs after admitting two charges that resulted in the pollution of the River Avon. Worcester Magistrates Court heard that large pools of oil were found on the river near Evesham last June; the firm reported a spill of about 5,000 litres of rapeseed oil at its Worcester Road site, with about 800 litres entering the river.Waitrose cake popsCake-maker Fiona Cairns has created an exclusive range of cake pops for Waitrose, available in five flavours: Glitter and Butterflies, Hundreds and Thousands, White Chocolate and Sugar-Coated Shelled Chocolates, Pink and Gold Flower, and Red Glitter with Jelly Beans. They retail for £1.49.Pork pie challengePork Farms recently gave BBC’s Children in Need and golfers a helping hand, by supplying a 5kg pork pie as the centrepiece for BBC Radio 2’s ’Nearest the Pork Pie’ contest. The aim was for golfers to try and get their ball to land closest to the pork pie, with all proceeds donated to Children in Need.Sandwiches to lastWholesale chain Booker’s new sandwiches have a 14-day shelf-life to help minimise wastage. The six-strong line includes chicken & bacon, chicken tikka, ham & cheese, cheese & onion, cheese ploughman’s and tuna mayonnaise, all retailing at £1.49.
Absenteeism can be a difficult issue to manage, particularly if you suspect that an employee is lying about its cause. How can a simple change to your absence recording systems make your life and disciplinary action more straight forward?Managing absencesEmployee absence can take many forms; staff may want leave because of bereavement, due to a domestic or family emergency or simply call in sick. Regardless of its root cause, absenteeism disrupts your business; not only are you left short-staffed and work has to be reallocated, but clients and customers may also be let down. But what if you suspect that an employee is abusing their rights to leave and recycling the same old reasons again and again?One of our members has an employee who stated that his grandmother had died. That is unfortunate, but this was not the first time he had used that particular excuse; at least two other managers recalled him using exactly the same reason for previous absences. Although unlikely, there could be a genuine explanation for example that he also has a step-grandmother and they have all, sadly, passed away but how does our member (politely and sensitively) challenge him about it?The easiest way to spot any potential problems, be they excuses or patterns of absence, is to record every missed working day or period and the precise reason given for it, in one place. We have created an employee absence record form that you can use for this very purpose. It will allow you to see at a glance the following:l the name of the manager who carried out the return-to-work interview, if applicablel the breakdown of leave taken by an employeel the number of days claimed;l and the reason they have given for their absence.When completing the ’absence from/to’ boxes, don’t just put the date for example, 01/11/11-04/11/11 put in the actual days too in other words, Tuesday 01/11/11Friday 04/11/11. This makes it easier to spot if a pattern is emerging.Meet the employeeIf you find any suspicious patterns of absence, or reasons given, meet the employee informally to discuss it. Do remember that this is an investigatory meeting; at this stage, the employee is not subject to disciplinary action. However, if they cannot give you a credible explanation for what has happened, warn them that you will be monitoring their future absences closely. This should do the trick.If no credible explanation is offered, you can commence disciplinary action immediately, but it very much depends on the circumstances. You may prefer to let them off with a verbal warning and follow up any other suspicious incidents.Do not forget that any pregnancy or disability-related absences or reasons must always be excluded when deciding whether or not to take disciplinary action.