Spring Lane Farm in Mapperley, Nottingham, is a working farm, solely producing products to sell on-site – from free range eggs and vegetables to fresh meat.The idea of opening a bakery evolved because the butchery was having to sell forequarter meat from the cattle as stewing steak and mince. So they decided to use it to make pies and, coupled with customer demand, the prospect of a bakery became more commercially appealing.Mark says: “All our beef is home-produced as are all the vegetables and free-range eggs, so it was just a question of squeezing as much value out of our products as we could.”The bakery, aided by a Defra grant of £38,000 under the Rural Enterprise Scheme, which helps farmers adapt to changing markets and develop new business opportunities, took 12 months to complete.Housed in a converted Dutch Barn, the bakery and shop is a 45ft x 30ft steel-framed building with a cement fibre roof, which sits next to the farm shop. The one-time redundant farm building, now converted into a bakery, sits on a 250-acre site, and complements the existing butchery and farm shop.keeping it in the familyThe farm and bakery, which opened in September 2006, are owned by the Spencer family, which has been farming there since 1939.The farm is now run by two generations – Cyril and Dorothy and their son Mark, 36, and his wife Claire. Much of the conversion work was carried out by Mark and Cyril to make the project more cost-effective.The Spencers chose to go down the route of handmade traditionally baked, high-quality products. Speciality bread includes tomato and herb, date and walnut, blue cheese and walnut, and cheese and onion. Other bread includes white, wholemeal, Granary and white Granary, using Hovis flour.Cakes, scones and tarts sit at the top end of the range and are all crammed with extra ingredients such as raisins or chocolate. Currant bread and teacakes are proving immensely popular.EQUIPMENT SOURCINGMuch of the equipment for the bakery was sourced through a local company, based in nearby Hucknall, which specialises in reconditioned and second-hand equipment. Mark’s wife, Claire, who manages both the farm shop and bakery, says: “We bought a 12-tray four-deck oven, pastry break and bun divider and a couple of mixers, plus other bits and pieces. The shelving came from the stockist we used before to equip the farm shop.”We wanted to keep the whole feel rustic and rural-looking because, after all, we are on a working farm.”All the products are packaged bearing the Spring Lane Farm logo, which is printed at point of sale. “It has been an expensive venture to get going, so we have had to watch our outlay. One of our best investments has been the logo, which has paid dividends because customers now start to recognise our goods as a brand. They like that because it gives them continuity.”The shop’s customer base is mainly local people who are interested in how and where their food is produced. If a customer goes into the butchery department, they can see the meat being cut up and prepared. The same is true with the bakery, where they can see bread and cakes being made.The bakery also supplies one or two local nursing homes and children’s nurseries and carries out the occasional delivery.The most valuable marketing tool has been word-of-mouth and the farm produces a quarterly newsletter to keep its customers informed about any new developments.Claire says: “It has taken a lot of hard work to get the project up and running, but it is lovely to see it come to fruition, and we are really excited about it.” n—-=== Planning problems ===Although the family are essentially farmers, they are happy to have gone down the diversification route with their shops, because it means they can carry on doing what they love – farming – and still make a living from the land by supplying local demand. But plans to diversify have met with one major stumbling block: the local council.”We have been on a steep learning curve and we have had to take every opportunity to diversify,” says Claire. “We have a farm shop, butchery, bakery and the farm, so where do we go next? Well the natural thing seems to be – and our customers have already started to mention it – a coffee shop.”However it has all been a complicated process because, technically, we are in a greenbelt area and we have a constant battle with our local planning authority. It is so infuriating because we are an expanding business employing more and more local staff, but they don’t seem to see that.”We still have redundant farm buildings on our land which we could convert into a coffee shop, so we wouldn’t even be putting up a new building on a greenbelt site,” she adds. “In the long term, we want to make it a nice experience for our customers and if that means a coffee shop as well, then we will try to make it happen.”—-=== Rural job creation ===The bakery installation created four jobs, including a bakery manager and an assistant manager.Bakery manager Bob Crampton, now 57, owned a wholesale bakery in nearby Carlton for 25 years and, after selling it as a going concern, retired for three years. However, he found he missed the baking side, but not the hassle of running his own business. So when the opportunity arose at Spring Lane Farm, he jumped at it.The first time he saw the bakery it was an empty shell and he says he was “just so excited about the prospect of being in at the beginning of a new project”.Assistant bakery manager Mark Riddle comes from a mixed background of in-store and craft bakeries. “I just like the whole traditional craft baking approach because I prefer to create the goods from scratch. There is no par-baking or premixes, it’s about weighing up individual ingredients and we know exactly what is being put in the bread, how it will come out and that the quality will be the best possible.”Manager Claire Spencer adds: “We decided right from the start that we would employ bakery staff, as we were naive about the industry. The bakery would have been too much for me to manage, so I pay the wages and look after the staff. Bob and Mark do what they love doing best – baking.”
Forget all the hype around possible elections. Tucked away in Gordon Brown’s speech a few months ago at the Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth was a real gem: the PM talking about how he wanted the UK to be leading the global economy, with modern manufacturing at the heart of his vision of the future.That was music to my ears; manufacturing often feels ignored by government and Brown’s words chimed with the theme for FDF’s fringe event, hosted with the GMB trade union and entitled ’Feeding the nation and its economy – recognising the value of the UK’s food and drink manufacturers’.We had two ministers speaking at the event – Stephen Timms MP, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, and David Lammy MP, Minister for Skills. I was particularly struck that both men felt the biggest challenge facing companies was raising the image of manufacturing to ensure it continued to attract the talent it needed to prosper. Lammy talked about the need for government, unions and industry to work together to ensure children really understood the benefits of building a career in manufacturing, while Timms floated the idea of creating a ’Manufacturing Media Centre’ to promote the good news stories from all sectors.Given that we are one manufacturing sector that sometimes feels taken for granted, this event was a positive session – and one on which we hope to build in the coming months.
With constant media attention fixated on spreading the message of a looming recession and crashing stock markets, both in the US and UK, many bakers may be wondering, “How does this affect my business?”Analysts warn that 2008 is going to be “a tough year” for businesses, which will affect UK bakery firms in several ways: some bakers will find it increasingly difficult to secure loans; the average consumer in the high street will have less money to spend on bakery goods; and businesses that import and export will see their profit margins eroded as the value of the pound continues to fall.The number of negative trading statements issued on the London Stock Exchange during the last quarter of 2007 was at its highest level for nearly two years, according to new research by financial adviser Grant Thornton, while the number of positive trading updates dropped to 41% (down from 62% in the third quarter).This is potentially a worrying concept for the high street baker, as UK businesses brace themselves for tighter consumer spending. However, analysts say that the baking industry could be less affected than other sectors, particularly compared to luxury or non-essential sectors. For example, sales of Harley Davidson motorbikes in the US have been in sharp decline, but “with bakery goods being classed as ’essentials’ it is arguably less susceptible than many other markets”, says Plimsoll’s senior analyst David Patterson.Simon Richardson, sales and marketing director at Rich Products, thinks that the predicted decrease in disposable income will not stop consumers buying quality products, but will make them more choosy when parting with their money. “Quality operators will not have to worry, they will still be able to ask higher prices for excellent products,” he says. “Good baking is definitely on the up. It is the products that consumers feel are not as good value-for-money that will decline.”He adds that the informal eating occasion market is showing no signs of slowing down and a new trend is starting to emerge for home-entertaining bakery products – for example, indulgent products such as cheesecakes, carrot cakes, eclairs and brownies. “Where people used to go out for formal meals, more are staying at home, inviting friends and family to eat with them,” he says.David Bush, head of Grant Thornton’s retail services team, notes that bakery and food retai-lers “have shown a greater ability to weather the storm of a slowdown in consumer spending, with five successive quarters of like-for-like sales increases”. He says that it is likely many shoppers will cut back on spending on non-food items before food and drink.Some are now referring to the period of excessive consumer spending over the last few years as a “spendemic”, with more than 10% of UK adults spending more than they earn on a monthly basis and relying on overdrafts and credit cards to plug the gap. A further 20% have no spare money at the end of the month, according to online price comparison firm uswitch.Factors such as gas and electricity companies raising their prices by up to 15%, record petrol prices, higher mortgage costs and the well-documented food inflation are all eating into the average person’s disposable income, which currently stands at £157 a month according to the Office of National Statistics.As well as a slowdown in consumer spending, bakery companies – and indeed all UK companies – will increasingly find it difficult to secure credit over the coming months, as banks recover from recent crises and a period of nervousness triggered by the sub-prime mortgages in the US.David Patterson of Plimsoll warns: “Many bakery firms may look to swap unsecured loans for long-term debt, in a bid to stabilise the business. But in reality, this will not solve the problem – debt is still debt.”Paul Morrow, MD of British Bakels, says that as the banks lend less money, the companies most likely to suffer are medium-sized businesses that have a turnover between £15m-£20m. “We are starting to see increasing job cuts, more companies are going up for sale and there are more management buyouts,” Morrow adds. “Companies should look to slow down on capital expenditure, keeping the money in their businesses.”The pound’s value continues to slide; last month it reached its weakest level in four years and an all-time low against the euro. As a result, bakery and ingredients companies have seen almost a 9% rise on certain imported goods.For example, because there are no UK producers of enzymes, these need to be imported from Europe and, as such, profit margins are “eroding” says Martin Churchill of Sonneveld, especially as many companies are locked into six- or 12-month contracts.Despite this, Plimsoll’s research shows that two-thirds of com- panies are well-placed to deal with any economic downturn over the coming months. Patterson says: “The majority of UK bakery businesses are in good shape and the task for them will be to monitor their outgoings and reduce debt with interest rates being unpredictable at the moment.”He adds that, throughout 2008, companies will be looking to cut costs. Expensive investment projects could be put on the back-burner until things are on more of an even keel. “Bakery companies should look to tighten their belts and rein in unnecessary spending,” he says.
Flurocarbon Holdings has bought bakeware manufacturer Prestige Industrial.Prestige, a bakeware manufacturer, supplying the UK and Europe, was previously a subsidiary of BI Group Plc, a parent corporation for an international group of engineering companies.BI had suffered a general reduction in sales of bread tins and baking trays over the past decade and as a result withdrew from the market to concentrate on its core engineering project work. The decision was made to negtiate an acquisition agreement with Flurocarbon Holdings was encouraging by company subsidiary, Flurocarbon Bakeware Systems’ (FBS) well established presence in the market.FBS specialise in the production of deep brawn bakeware and the application of the SBS range of release coatings, whilst Prestige are experienced in the assembly of fabricated bakeware and silicon glaze application.
California Raisins has teamed up with Dawsons Bakery and Asda for a Christmas giveaway. Dawsons recently won the contract to supply all 13 Asda and Walmart stores in the East Midlands with locally produced goods, a number of which contain California Raisins. The competition will run throughout these 13 stores, whereby boxes of Dawsons Indulgent Mince Pies will feature promotional stickers, giving consumers the chance to win a £1,000 holiday to California.Dee Cassey, marketing manager for California Raisins in the UK, said: “We’re extremely pleased to be working with Dawsons Bakery in this promotion. We’re strong supporters of the baking industry and it’s great to see local produce in large supermarkets like Asda.”
For various reasons, the idea of onion bread sometimes frightens consumers. But with Onion & Butter Bread, the butter reduces the impact of the onion.Blending with butter will slightly decrease the onion-ey taste and will also considerably enhance the bread’s shelf-life. The method I propose will also give some crispness to the bread and it’s very easy to follow.Recipe Ingredients AmountStrong white flour 1,000gSalt 20gYeast 25gWater 520-550ml (according to the flour’s absorption)Butter 180gSliced onions 120gMethod1. Using a planetary mixer, mix together the flour, salt, yeast and water for 3 minutes on 1st speed and 7 minutes on 2nd speed. Then add the onions and mix again 3 minutes on 1st speed. 2. Leave the dough to rest for 30 minutes in a fridge.3. With the pastry brake, pin the dough down to number 10 and give two single turns with the butter. 4. Leave the dough to rest for 20 minutes at ambient temperature.5. Divide the dough: 450g for tin bread and 170g for sandwich bread and shape it 15 minutes later.6. Prove and bake as per usual.Top tipOnion & butter bread can be a very tasty and original sandwich carrier when baked in a tin shape.
Aryzta revealed its UK and Irish business has been hit the hardest by the recession, as the Switzerland-based firm announced revenue losses in its Food Europe division.In a statement announcing its full year results for the year ended 31 July 2009, the firm, which focuses primarily on speciality bakery, revealed a drop in revenue of 2.2% to €1,137.2m (£1,047.74m) in its Food Europe division. Operating profit stood at €135,103 (£124,561.29), up 11.4%.The firm said its Irish and UK business had been most affected by the recession, and a result substantially reduced its cost base. Its, now fully commissioned, Grangecastle bakery helped enhance efficiencies.Its Food North America division saw revenue increase 12.5% to €555.1m (£512.01m), and operating profit increase 30.1% to €67,481 (£62,267.69).Aryzta chief executive officer Owen Killian said the economic downturn is reflected in the firm’s underlying revenues, which swung from double-digit growth to a decline, within the twelve month period. In the financial statement released by the firm, it said that in the recessionary period encompassing the latest financial figures, credit from banks became very restricted and consumer spending slowed. However it stated that it remained focused on cash generation and improving operating efficiency.Aryzta formed in August last year through the merger of Irish company IAWS and Swiss Bakery firm Hiestand.It is a mix of business to business and consumer brands, including Heistand, Cuisine de France and Delice de France. Its Food Europe division comprises its speciality bakery businesses which span across Switzerland, Germany, Poland, the UK and France.
Macphie has launched a gluten-free cake and muffin mix in response to rising consumer demand for free-from products. As well as gluten, the mix is also free from artificial colours, preser-vatives and flavours, and contains no hydrogenated fat. It can be used to make cakes, muffins, cupcakes and whoopie pies and is available in 12.5kg bags.The UK gluten-free market grew by more than 20% in 2009 (Mintel 2010) and is set to become the most valuable in Europe (Datamonitor), said the firm.”Macphie’s gluten-free mix has been introduced as a direct response to a growing demand among customers who are gluten-intolerant, but love cakes,” commented marketing manager Jania Boyd. “We wanted to develop a product that, while gluten-free, retained the moist, dense, delicious flavour and quality that people want from a cake.”
Two Northern Irish bakeries are benefiting from the relaunch of Asda’s own-label range ‘Chosen By You’.Antrim-based Steve’s Cakes has secured a deal worth £2m a year with the retailer, supplying whoopie pies under the brand to 377 stores across the UK. Previously, the company only supplied Asda stores locally. At the same time, Irwin’s Bakery in Co Armagh, which supplied two million branded products to Asda last year, has also notched up a sizeable new slice of business, thanks to Chosen By You, with its sliced white loaf, hotplate and morning goods ranges.The products were identified by Asda CEO Andy Clarke as among the retailer’s best-selling lines in the relaunched 3,500-strong mid-tier Chosen By You range, which accounts for between £8bn-£9bn in sales per year.“This is a tremendous accolade for these companies, as their success through our own-brand national relaunch of Chosen By You proves they understand what our customers need and want,” said Clarke. “It also speaks volumes for the innovative spirit that is obviously a driving force in NI’s food industry and will hopefully inspire others within this crucially important sector to follow their lead.”Asda has invested £100m in the Chosen By You range, improving product quality through benchmarking and independent taste testing by more than 40,000 consumers throughout the UK.>>Asda own-label products now Chosen By You
Hovis sale ’nonsense’A spokesperson for Premier Foods has dismissed speculation that Rank Hovis is to be put up for sale as “utter nonsense”. An article in the Daily Mail stated that Premier’s board had met advisory firm NM Rothschild to discuss a sale, but the spokesperson said this meeting never took place.UK doughnut siteKrispy Kreme is to open its first dedicated production site in the UK. The 5,392sq ft site, at Heywood Distribution Park in Greater Manchester, will enable it to continue growth plans in the north west. A manufacturing line and processing kitchen will allow the firm to produce up to 3,000 doughnuts an hour at the site.Staying schtumSainsbury’s is remaining tight-lipped over reports that it could open 1,000 sandwich shops if a concept store is successful. The chain reportedly told analysts about its plans for Fresh Kitchen, launched on London’s Fleet Street last month, but a spokesperson said: “While the store is trading well, we are not in a position to talk about future plans.”Classic move for CSMCSM has acquired Classic Cakes, which produces a range of premium sweet bakery products for the foodservice and retail markets. CSM said the acquisition would enable it to offer customers a wider range of innovative products.