Irish group Kerry Foods has revealed a 7.3% rise in sales to £1.85bn for the first half of 2008. The group has successfully raised prices to take account of increasing commodity costs and appears poised to make further acquisitions.The company, whose brands include Homepride Flour and Cheesestrings, said that its Kerry Pinnacle operation “continued to deliver excellent growth in the lifestyle bakery sector”.Corporate affairs director Frank Hayes told British Baker the Kerry Pinnacle business had performed “fantastically well” and that the company was also “very pleased with the good progress we have made in the bakery sector in Europe and the Americas”.In its interim management statement to the end of June 2008, the company said that growth was maintained through sweet ingredients and flavours in the confectionery, bakery and beve-rage markets. “Enzymes also achieved double-digit growth through bakery and confectio-nery applications,” it stated. However, pre-tax profits for the group increased by just 0.1% to £107m.The firm said “complementary acquisition opportunities would continue to be explored across all Kerry businesses”. Chief executive Stan McCarthy was quoted in the Irish Times, saying that Kerry would have at least £135m every year for acquisitions over the next five years.”We would obviously like to do more than that, but we would like a lot of activities and initiatives that we have undertaken to be complete before we step up a gear,” he said.As part of its “go-to-market” strategy the company is investing £27m on a research and development facility in the US as it focuses on offering its ingredients and flavours technologies to customers round the world. In future the company also plans in the UK and Irish food markets to increase investment in its leading brands in the convenience and food-to-go sectors.—-=== Consumer Watch ===== Food extremes ==Consumer food preferences are being driven to “extremes”, as their choices are conditioned by factors beyond price, according to research by Rabobank, although it added that rising inflation could lead to greater price sensitivity.Its latest Food Retail report cited the similar commercial success of two retailers: Whole Foods, which caters for less price-sensitive consumers seeking unique gourmet and organic products; and Kroger, which has cut prices but still outpaces its competitors.Stephen Rannekliev, Rabobank food and agriculture and advisory vice-president, said: “Many consumers continue to be driven by factors beyond price. This means consumers are gravitating towards one extreme or the other – whether it’s a healthy lifestyle, convenience, price or something else.”Rabobank added: “Most major food retailers continued to show same-store sales growth in the first quarter of 2008 despite a lower inflation rate for food away from home which was 4.1% (from January to May 2008) compared to 5.5% for food at home.”
The Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) will look at opportunities for suppliers in the foodservice and retail sectors at a conference in London on February 9. Entitled ‘Where to Harvest – Foodservice or Retail?’, it will be held at The British Library Conference Centre. Presentations will cover how foodservice is forecast to match retail, by accounting for 50% of spend in the UK food and drink industry by 2035. For tickets, telephone HGCA on 020 7520 3948, or email [email protected]
Plamil Foods (Folkestone, Kent) is a specialist dairy- and gluten-free chocolate company that is launching a range of foodservice and catering chocolate products.MD Adrian Ling says: “With an increasing number of products in ’free from’ ranges where chocolate is an inclusion or ingredient, we are proud that we are able to offer specialist chocolate formulations meeting this criterion.”Plamil’s chocolates contain soya flour and there are organic alternatives. The company also makes carob bars, chocolate spreads, milk alternatives and egg-free mayonnaises.
This year’s Scotch Pie Champion is Keith Stuart, production director of Fife’s RT Stuart bakery and butchery chain.He picked up the trophy at the annual awards ceremony held near Gleneagles in Scotland on St Andrew’s Day last week.Stuart said he was “over the moon” to be awarded the accolade, suggesting the care and attention he put into his pie had paid off. His pastry shell had been different from “99% of other competitors” as it was more crusty, he added.In all, 34 awards were presented for Scotch pies, Bridies and speciality savouries. A top diamond prize went to last year’s Scotch pie champion Robert Cowan for his bridies. Scotland’s Nevis Bakery picked up a diamond award for its peppered steak and black pudding pie. Irvine’s of Beith won a gold prize for its “man pie” – billed as a pie full of bull.The Scotch Pie championship was the culmination of the first Scotch Pie Week, a charity event in which 228 shops took part.Under the slogan ’Say aye tae a pie’, the event raised money for the Scottish Society for Autism. Event founder Alan Stuart said the week, sponsored by ADM Milling, had been a big success. The money is still being counted, he said, but 100% will go to charity as ADM is covering all administrative costs.He commented: “We are hoping to get 500 shops involved next year, including some of the bigger chains. We are hoping Greggs will take part – it made a donation this year.”
Now – 10 casesRetail at 0.95 ex VAT: £194.04Cost at £7.99 per case: £79.90Profit: £114.14 per weekProjection – 20 casesRetail at £0.95 ex VAT: £388.09Cost at £10.99 per case: £219.80Profit: £168.29What it’s worth1 outlet = an extra £2.8k per year profit5 outlets = £14k10 outlets = £28k20 outlets = £56k40 outlets = £112k
The economic winds of change seem to be blowing people’s cookie-buying habits within in-store bakery (ISB) in strangely different directions at the moment. Buffeted by the storms of recession, shoppers have latched on to trusted brands, buying more licensed cookies, while at the same time jumping ship from ’premium’ products to better-value ’standard’ ranges.Overall, the ISB cookie market is doing well – up 4% in value in the 52 weeks to 22 February 2009, according to TNS Worldpanel. “Cookies are a comfort food and, in difficult times, we want a treat,” explains Simon Richardson, sales and marketing director at cookie supplier Rich Products. “They also represent good value. A pack of five standard cookies typically retails for around £1. That’s 20p a unit. Compare that to Danish pastries, where you might only get two for £1.40.”This emphasis on value has seen sales of premium cookies fall by 7.5%, while ’standard’ cookies are up 10.8%, according to the TNS data, supplied by Rich’s. At the same time, sales of licensed cookies have also climbed, with TNS estimating growth of 7.5%. This has been helped by supermarket promotions, which have increased the number of packs purchased, as well as new products from BakeMark UK, such as the Quality Street Mint Matchmaker Cookie and Kraft Toblerone Cookie.The growth in licensed products can also be explained by the theory that, during tough times, people naturally fall back on trusted, familiar brands. This also appears to be happening in the packaged biscuit aisle. Sue Garfitt, head of insights, category and marketing planning at biscuit company Burton’s Foods, says people are searching out “nostalgic” brands for reassurance. “Cadbury Fingers is a case in point,” she says. “It has seen a 14.2% increase in sales value and 4.7% increase in sales volume in the past year.”Back in the ISB, Tesco, Asda and Somerfield have all increased their share of the cookie market in the past 12 months, according to TNS. “The winners in the category have tailored their offer to target their consumers,” says Richardson at Rich’s. “In the past, some retailers haven’t got their ranging right. A mid-market retailer, for example, would have almost as many premium stock-keeping units (skus) as in the standard tier of cookies. But if you’re a family retailer, you need a larger proportion of standard cookies, with targeted promotional offers. Asda and Tesco have done this really well. They have got that balance between premium, standard and branded cookies, and their promotions appeal to larger families.”Supermarket deals have helped push volumes up, but they are also having an effect in other retail channels. Coffee shops, which traditionally sell individual grab-and-go cookies, are starting to offer multipacks, says David Girdler, marketing director at Delice de France, owner of the Otis Spunkmeyer cookie concept.”We are starting to see packs of two or four cookies in foodservice. Traditionally, cookies were bought to eat immediately, but now nearly half are bought to take home or back to the office. It reflects the current climate, with lots of offers on cookies in the supermarkets and the fact that people want more for their money.”To this end, Delice has recently started providing packaging for its Otis Spunkmeyer cookies, so that they can be offered in take- home multipacks.Craft bakers are well-placed to take advantage of the current changes in cookie-buying trends because they can adapt their product range quickly. BakeMark UK, for example, supplies a product called Simply Scoop Cookie Dough, which comes in 5kg pails and can be used to make a range of different products. “Simply Scoop enables craft bakers to strengthen their image as a specialist on the high street,” says David Astles, marketing manager. “They could use it to make a standard 50g cookie, which could be sold in a multipack, but equally if they’re doing a meal deal and want a lower-cost product, they could make a 40g cookie.”The dough could also be used to make mini-cookies, which Astles highlights as a recent trend in the ISB category. “We are starting to see more 25g cookies rather than the traditional 50g or 80g offerings,” he says. “These are easier to eat on-the-go or share with others.”BakeMark supplies mini versions of its Readibake and licensed Smarties cookies, while Otis Spunkmeyer will launch two mini versions later this year. The trend is also driving growth in packaged biscuits, which are evolving into mini bagged snacks. Burton’s, for example, has launched mini versions of its Jammie Dodger biscuits called Splat Snacks.When it comes to flavours, cookies are dominated by chocolate (see panel), but there is a growing use of nuts, fruit and seeds. “People are linking fruit with chocolate, so raspberry or cranberry with white chocolate has been successful. I think we’ll see more of these kinds of products in the future,” says Richardson at Rich’s. Indeed, this already seems to be happening in packaged biscuits with Fox’s launching Chunkie Extremely Chocolatey Fruit & Nut Cookies in February.Other new product development has seen Rich’s launch a range of filled cookies for ISBs, while Gill Hodgson, sales director at inclusions specialist Nimbus, says there is a growing trend for cookies that are styled on puddings or desserts. The company has been asked to develop inclusions such as bake-stable marshmallows, biscuit pieces and meringue for ’rocky road’ and pavlova-style cookies. “It’s a trend that started in ice cream and is now spreading to cakes and cookies,” she says. “Overall the market is tending towards shorter runs on products, so there you now see ’cookie of the month’ or a product that is available for a single quarter.”The industry-wide move towards clean label and ethically sourced ingredients is also affecting cookies. Pullins Bakers in Somerset has recently launched a new range of cookies under the Oh Goodie brand, which uses Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa, organic ginger and labels approved by the Forest Stewardship Council.”Our target markets are coffee shops and grab-and-go retail,” says brand manager Tristan Hunt. “Ethical sourcing is a particular concern in the coffee shop market in coffee, tea and sugar. But in food most only stock Fairtrade chocolate and not much else. We saw a gap in the market.”—-=== Chocs away ===When it comes to cookie flavours, Simon Richardson at Rich’s says consumers tend to go for “chocolate, chocolate or chocolate”.The problem with this is that chocolate prices are currently at a record high with a tonne of cocoa costing around $2,650, compared to $1,700 two years ago. This is due to a shortfall in world production.”Well over 80% of our cookie sales are with chocolate and, depending on contractual situations, we’ve seen a 10-30% increase in chocolate prices,” says Richardson. “There have been some price increases in cookies in the past 18 months, but there’s no way we can continue to absorb the increases we are seeing in cocoa. It is inevitable that these will be passed on and that some of these will be passed on to consumers.”
Costa loyalty cardThe UK’s biggest coffee chain Costa has launched a supermarket-style reward card scheme that will see customers accumulating points with each purchase of any food, drink or merchandising product sold in its Costa stores nationwide. The scheme has been on a year-long trial in Scotland.Donegal firm to growCo Donegal bakery company, Galard Teo, has received a E0.8m investment from government agency Údáras na Gaeltachta for new product development. The cash injection will fund 36 new jobs over the next three years, bringing the job total in the bakery to 207.Tesco pulls productsTesco withdrew four varieties of its sandwiches with use-by dates of 5 March 2010 and 6 March 2010, because the lettuce used in the filling might have been contaminated with slug pellets. Big & Tasty Meatball & Cheese Sandwich, Chicken Salad Sandwich, Finest Club Sandwich and Fresh in the Capital Club Sandwich were affected.Welsh birthdayWelsh cake firm Siwgr a Sbeis, started by two schoolfriends Rhian Williams and Rhian Owen in Llanrwst, is celebrating its 21st birthday with the launch of a range of branded cakes and desserts, starting with cupcakes made with cinnamon spice and topped with nib sugar.Sandwich wasteNew research by the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is set to uncover how much waste is generated by pre-packed sandwiches. It is the first big study into the amount of waste in the UK retail supply chain created by pre-prepared food and aims to identify how this can be reduced, so that businesses can make cost and environmental savings.
Kevin Sibley, founder of Mama’s Cupcakes and winner of the National Cupcake 2009 Cupcake-off 2009What do you do day-to-day?I’m a sole trader, heading my own business called Mamas Cupcakes. I started the business a little over a year ago after leaving work as a graphic designer to care for my mother who had cancer. Sadly, she died on New Year’s Eve 2008 and, in the following months, I gathered myself up and started to promote my business more. I designed a website www.mamas-cupcakes.co.uk so that I could sell cupcakes and fudge to order. My graphic design skills came into play here, as it did for all my labelling design too.I deliver the cakes myself within a 40-mile radius, as they are too delicate to courier! I also do farmers’ markets every weekend and my main sell there is homemade fudge. I take the cakes along, too, but that is mainly as a promotion, as I tend to cater for weddings, parties and celebrations. How did you get into baking?My mother taught me to bake from a very young age. I was making cakes from about the age of seven or eight. I’ve always had a passion for a good dessert and I love it that now I’m making cakes for a living, something that I really enjoy. It’s very creative so it satisfies that side of my nature too.Chart your career pathFor the past 12 years I have been a graphic designer and I still do a bit of freelance when time permits. The past 18 months has been concentrated on building Mamas Cupcakes. My long-term aim is to have a high-end tea/coffee house where my cupcakes will be my selling point. I’m looking at relocating, hopefully to Eastbourne. The key to a good café is to have good coffee and tea, both of which I have sourced; and if the cupcakes go down well too, hopefully I’ll be on to a winner!What was your training or education?In baking I am completely self-taught, with help from my mother, who was a great cook. She created many of her own recipes, which I have inherited. They’re very nostalgic recipes and I’m tempted to get them published one day – who knows?What have been your highlights since winning the cupcake-off?One function I catered for this year was the National Young Filmmakers’ Awards held in London. The boxed cakes were given as gifts to the awards presenters – celebrities such as Sienna Miller, Ben Miller, David Harewood and Ralph Little, among others. I’ve been interviewed on Gaydar radio, which was amusing, and for a couple of magazines. There has been more interest from customers and orders have certainly increased. It’s amazing what a title can do for you!
Greggs has extended its lead over rival bakery, café and takeaway outlets in the BB75 league table.British Baker’s six-monthly update reveals that second-placed Subway has only notched up one extra shop this year taking its total to 1,410 while Greggs’ grand total is 1,437, up 18 since January. In 2009, Subway was only 10 outlets behind Greggs, but the difference is now 27-stores.Greggs, which makes its own products, unlike Subway and the big coffee chains, is set to continue to dominate retail bakery, with plans to add another 600 stores in the next few years.But third-placed Costa is snapping at the pair’s heels and has been the busiest in the last six months, opening 72 outlets. It raced away from rival Starbucks, and plans to have another 130 stores by the end of 2011.Caffè Nero also cranked up the pace, upping its total by 40 to 440 branches in the UK, and aims to open another 45 over the rest of 2010. With store growth up 10%, the coffee chain has the highest growth rate of the outlets in the top 10. Director Paul Ettinger said trading so far this year had been positive, with like-for-like sales growth in excess of 2%. “The market is very stable, the laws of economics state that there is room for three strong competitors and it is incredibly difficult for others to break in,” he said.A surprise success story was BB’s Coffee & Muffins which now has 100 shops up from 50 in January. It went into administration last year and, since then, former franchisees have been buying up its stores.l See pages 14-15 for the full BB75 update.>>Greggs lead major new UK bakery league table
Two measures to ensure the fluidity of the EU sugar market, proposed by the European Commission, have been voted on by Member States.These come in addition to the measures agreed earlier this year to cope with the “exceptional market circumstances”, with regards to world sugar prices, and will be formally adopted by the Commission in the next few weeks.The first measure is to open a further 200,000 tonne duty-free import quota for raw or refined sugar. The second would introduce the possibility for further imports at a reduced import duty, via a tendering system, which would start in July, with “regular adjudications” until the end of the marketing year in September.Peter Hough, business development director at Napier Brown said he doesn’t believe that a lot of the sugar from the opening of a duty-free tariff-rate quota (TRQ) of 300,000 tonnes in April, has hit the market yet, and said the firm was pleased to hear that another TRQ had been announced, as well as the tender system.”Napier Brown got some licences for additional sugar through the first TRQ and will apply for more when the next one opens in July. We have also increased the number of sources we have for sugars in and outside Europe.”Ben Eastick, director of Ragus, an independent importer and manufacturer of specialist sugar products, said the global sugar market had seen a weakening in price over the past three months, due to the earthquake in Japan and the continuing unrest in North Africa.”But prices have subsequently corrected again,” he said, adding that the current lack of rain in Europe is making the beet root longer. “The consequence of this will be an abundance of sucrose in the beet if it rains, or very little if it doesn’t rain.”In the main cane-producing countries, Brazil has seen severe rain in the past few weeks which has reduced production by 69%, he added. A surge in production due to a prolonged dry spell in Thailand has eased supply tightness, while India looks unlikely to meet production estimates in its two largest producing states.>>EU envisages possible easing of sugar supply