Wm Morrisons’ shares reached the highest level since its takeover of Safeway two years ago, after it posted better than expected results last week.Shares went up by 18p, or 7.7%, to 251½p, as it revealed profits of £134.2 million in the six months to 23 July, ahead of expectations.New chief executive Marc Bolland promised to reveal his strategy for the business in March after completion of a review. He said he would consider all aspects of the retailer including how to improve smaller store profitability and product ranges.Analysts now expect Morrisons to make pre-tax profits of about £281m for the full year.
Monthly Archive: April 2021
Even a tiny slice of the government’s estimated £2bn spend on food and catering in the public sector provides a mouth- watering prospect for bakery and ingredients suppliers.Alongside food safety, hygiene and healthy nutrition, one of the objectives of Defra’s Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative (PSFPI) is to “increase tenders from small and local producers”. And in among the other aims, that current buzz-word “sustainability” is bracketed together with “efficiency” on more than one occasion.The PSFPI itself is nothing new, yet it was given fresh impetus by an announcement in the Chancellor’s last Budget. This stated that the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR) aims to increase the proportion of public contracts going to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) – defined as com-panies with fewer than 250 employees – to 30% by 2010. Currently, says Matt Goodman, policy representative at the Forum for Private Business (FPB), that share is around 18%.At the same time, examples of best practice have developed, demonstrating the long-term viability of such relationships. One such example is the Cornwall Food Programme (CFP), run by Cornwall NHS Hospital Trusts. Roy Heath is sustainable food development manager at Cornwall Healthcare Estates and Support Services. He claims: “The CFP all started with a sandwich. A patient asked why it had travelled 200 miles to get to him.”Sandwiches, a range of morning goods and – of course – pasties are now delivered around the county by WC Rowe, based in Falmouth. As Heath puts it: “Pasties are a very emotive subject down here.”But the bread contract remains with national supplier Hovis’s Mother’s Pride site, delivered by Dairy Crest. The current requirement is for around 70 white and 50 brown loaves a day, says Heath. “This decision was not based on cost,” he maintains. “We tried to use a more rustic type of bread and the patients didn’t like it.” So patient power may have triggered the CFP in the first place, but it has also helped to define its limits.Importantly, Heath points out that local proximity, in itself, cannot be cited legally as a criterion for choosing a given supplier. That said, “freshness” and (naturally) “sustainability” can be taken into consideration. As he says: “Not everything that is local is sustainable, and not everything that is sustainable is local.” Evidently, when it comes to the bread contract, “fresh” and “local” are not synonyms, either.The NHS in London has also done its bit for local sourcing. Mike Duckett is catering manager at the Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospital Trust (RBHT) in London. Over the past four years or so, he has worked on the Hospital Food Project with an organisation called Sustain. Here, the emphasis was on healthy food. “The public perception has been that hospital food is dire,” he says. “We wanted to help change that, and also increase local procurement.”Now, RBHT sources around a quarter of its food and ingredients from London and the south east. Flour from a supplier in Wandsworth is used to bake pies and sweet goods in-house, while bread is sourced from local London baker Beckers.The move to more local sourcing at RBHT and some other London NHS trusts is not an isolated occurrence, says Duckett. “For the last two or three years, local sourcing has been on the agenda for everyone. Apart from anything else, there is the NHS sustainability policy, which trusts have to adhere to in order to gain their ’star’ ratings.”Health service contracts are administered nationally by NHS Supply Chain, run by DHL Exel. Business manager for food and catering facilities Keith Hinchcliffe says: “Tenders are constructed that score bidders against both financial and non-financial criteria. There is now a greater emphasis on sustainability under the non-financial criteria. Tenders are constructed to give us the most economically advantageous bid, which is not necessarily the lowest price.”Health is not the only public sector area to be pursuing more local sourcing. Nottingham baker Dawsons is supplying around 30 north Lincolnshire schools with bread. MD Robert Dawson says that this slice of the local education sector accounts for around 7% of sales.== Local authority supply ==There are other routes into the public sector. Procurement for the Prison Service, for instance, operates on a regional basis. But there may be greater opportunities for exploring openings in your neighbourhood through local authorities.Greenhalgh’s Craft Bakery in Lancashire supplies Wigan, Bolton and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Councils with anything from complete buffets to particular ingredients. Production director David Smart emphasises that his contacts among the in-house catering managers are “very professional” and “prompt payers”.The bakery also delivers to three Merseyside hospitals, but to date, this has only included products on sale to the general public and hospital staff. Smart estimates that this accounts for less than 10% of Greenhalgh’s wholesale turnover. But he adds: “It’s good business, and certainly worth doing.” The company says it would be interested in extending its supply to products for patients.Some suppliers complain that ignorance about food and nutrition is more widespread among public sector managers than, for instance, in retail. And as the Cornwall NHS bread contract demonstrates, consumer preferences in the public sector (or perceptions of those preferences) will not always favour innovation.Dawsons in Nottingham points out that the Polish influence – in terms of new consumers and in-house expertise – means that rye-based and sourdough breads are now the bakery’s biggest-selling lines. But attempts to sell these variants to the schools it supplies have come to nothing. “This would have been a great opportunity to introduce children to better breads,” says Dawson.He is equally unflattering about public-sector pricing. “It is as price-sensitive as the private sector, if not more so,” he says. “Managers are too cautious, as they are aware they are dealing with public funds.”Greenhalgh’s highlights the same trend. It has private schools among its customers but none in the public sector. “The state school sector is very cost-conscious, and it hasn’t really been worth our while to bid for contracts,” says Smart.At the same time, Hinchcliffe explains: “Sustainable procurement, as well as being concerned with environmental impacts, is also about supporting local economies and paying a fair price, so that local suppliers are there in years to come. So while price is a key concern, local suppliers are not being asked to cut back their margins.” Nonetheless, he says, suppliers are asked to demonstrate efficiency and continuous improvement.Duckett, at London’s RBHT, says talking to suppliers in a “down-to-earth” way about pricing can yield mutually beneficial results. “Ask a local baker to supply 20 brown and 20 white loaves for the next 52 weeks, and he’ll be up all night giving you a good price,” he says.The message seems to be that selective supply to parts of the public sector can be ’sustainable’ for all concerned.—-=== Knocking on doors, clicking on portals ===Which opens more public-sector doors – personal contacts or anonymous, official websites? Both can be important but, ultimately, it is the latter that will take you where you want to go.Tenders with a value of £97,000 or over will be advertised in the Official Journal of the EU (OJEU) and its TED online variant. That figure represents the total value of the contract, not necessarily its value over one year.The supply2.gov website is offering SMEs online access. Suppliers pay £70 a year for access to lower-value, regional tenders.UK government tenders: [http://www.supply2.gov.uk]Tenders Electronic Europe – supplement of the Official Journal of the EU (OJEU): http://ted.europa.euOffice of Government Commerce: [http://www.ogc.gov.uk]NHS: [http://www.supplychain.nhs.uk]HM Prison Service: http://procurement.hmprisonservice.gov.uk—-=== Public sector food service procurement is worth £2bn and provides over 1 billion meals a year ===l Education, healthcare and services account for 6% of foodservice sales, but 29% of meals served outside the homel Around half the public spending on food goes on school meals* Approaches to procurement are split between in-house and outsourced providers, and vary widely in scale – from schools managing budgets of under £10,000 to the forces’ contract with Purple Food Services, which is worth £300m over five yearsSource: Cabinet Office Strategy Unit, March 2008
Coconut: The link between coconuts and crude oil pricing is incredibly close. Crude oil pricing strengthened in early April and coconut pricing also rose. With pricing correcting downwards in the second half of April, coconuts tracked the same trend.Raisins: Raisins remain tricky to read over the rest of the current crop season, given uncertain supply from Turkey and currency-driven volatile pricing from California. Both Turkey and Iran expect good crops.Sultanas: The expectation is for a minimum crop of 280,000mts, and a possible carry-over of as much as 20,000mts. Prices over the past month have been surprisingly firm.Currants: There seems little chance of any significant price improvement this side of the new crop. Currants continue to be priced considerably higher than sultanas and raisins.Apricots: Earlier localised frosts in Turkey have reduced the new crop from optimum levels and there is still the chance for later additional frosts to further impact on 2009 crop supply. In the short term, at least, prices are heading upwards.Prunes: With Californian supply much reduced, demand from the US is far higher than usual for the first possible shipments of South American fruit. The question is whether the comparatively small Chilean and Argentinean crops can last the period before the key new crops in France and California itself.l Based on information provided by ingredients supplier RM Curtis
Bakery products are at the forefront of the new Food Standards Agency (FSA) consultation on voluntary targets for reductions in saturated fat and added sugar. The consultation will focus on biscuits, cakes, pastries and buns, and will also look at portion size reductions.“We want to make it easier for people to make healthier choices – to choose foods with reduced saturated fat and sugar – or smaller portion sizes,” said an FSA spokeswoman.Julian Hunt, communications director at the Food and Drink Federation, said: “We are disappointed that [the FSA] appears to remain committed to arbitrary targets for specific nutrients in certain foods, rather than focusing on the need to achieve a balanced diet and lifestyle.” Responses are required by Tuesday 3 November 2009. For more information visit www.food.gov.uk/consultations.
From 10 September, the Periodic Driver CPC training comes into effect, whereby all lorry drivers (with very few exemptions) will have a maximum period of five years in which to gain their full certificate in Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC) if they want to continue to drive for a living, explains Nic Allen of the Freight Transport Association (FTA).Better commercial drivers will improve road safety, which can only improve the image of businesses, including commercial bakers. Existing drivers will have to complete 35 hours of periodic training every five years, while there are special courses for new drivers.The DCPC epitomises lifelong learning, ensuring skills are maintained and developed throughout the driver’s working life. This compulsory training will cover subjects such as loading, drivers’ hours, defensive driving, and fuel consumption. The latter will no doubt interest businesses looking to extract more value from their supply chains and will help companies reduce their carbon footprint.By now, bakeries with an in-house transport function should have a plan in place to ensure the introduction of the new requirements is as smooth as possible.This may seem daunting to the under-prepared, but help is out there. For more information, contact the FTA on 08717 112222 or email [email protected]
Cocoa pricing hits 25-year high The price of cocoa hit a 25-year high this month, with LIFFE March 2010 price, reaching £2,256/tonne. The International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO), said one of the main reasons for the price rise is three consecutive years of supply deficit. “For the current cocoa year (October-September) there has been uncertainty surrounding supply this is the main reason behind this price rise,” said ICCO’s senior statistician Laurent Pipitone. However, he noted that fears of another supply deficit are by no means substantiated.”We’ve had a good start to the harvest,” said Pipitone. But he added that the ICCO expects supply will tail off quite early in the period from January-March in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, which produce around 40% and 20% of the world’s total cocoa, respectively. “Depending on the extent of the decline, the price could sustain this current high level or possibly even increase. We also expect demand to increase this year compared with last year.”According to the Financial Times, the price of cocoa is at its highest level since February 1985. It is feared the global market could face a supply deficit for the fourth year in a row, due to disease affecting yields in the world’s largest cocoa producer, the Ivory Coast.According to LIFFE, the price of cocoa has risen by more than £600 in the last 52 weeks up by around 37%.
All flour bought by government departments will soon have to conform to British farming and manufacturing standards. Under a new government plan, flour used in hospitals, schools and prisons will have to meet production standards such as the Red Tractor scheme or LEAF Marque scheme.The commitment applies to government departments procuring commodities such as flour rather than processed products like bread and cakes. A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs said that although the move would boost British farmers, it was not a ‘buy British’ campaign, which would contravene European Union regulations.She said: “The government is committed to ensuring that food procured by government departments, and eventually the whole public sector, meets British standards of production wherever this can be achieved, without increasing overall costs. We know that some departments are already buying a high proportion of food that meets British standards of production and therefore it should be possible for others to do the same.”Assured Food Standards, which licences the Red Tractor logo, noted many bread producers were now using 100% British flour, including Hovis and Sainsbury’s own-label bread.
Sugar glass is used on movie sets whenever glass is smashed in a film. It sets hard and is transparent, just like real glass, but is much more brittle and breaks more easily… plus it’s edible and sweet!The Halloween Red Velvet cupcakes (pictured) have been slashed and severed by shards of flying sugar glass and are bleeding a dark red cherry sauce.Note: sugar glass is hygroscopic, so must be placed in the cake soon after preparation, or it will soften, and lose its brittle quality.Recipe for Sugar GlassIngredientsWater 500mlLiquid Glucose250mlSugar 785gCream of tartar¼ tspOil sprayUtensilsOld saucepanCandy thermometerA shallow tray to act as a mouldMethod1. Line your mould with aluminium foil, ensuring there are no cracks. Cracks between sheets can be sealed using some spray oil. Spray the mould all over with oil spray at least half an hour before use. Mix together water, sugar, corn syrup and cream of tartar in the saucepan and bring to the boil with a candy thermometer inserted. Let the mixture boil, stirring continuously, until it reaches 300C.2. Pour the mixture very quickly and carefully into the oiled mould and let it cool.3. When cool, pop the mixture very carefully out of the mould. Then use a meat tenderiser to hit carefully in the centre and it cracks into perfect shards. Using the cupcake recipe of your choice and a vanilla or cream cheese frosting as a base, insert a shard into the centre of each cake and, with a pipette or spoon, drop some cherry pulp onto the glass as fake blood.Recipe for Cherry ’Blood’ SauceIngredientsBlack cherries, ripe and de-stoned 125g (1cup)Superfine (caster) sugar50gWater25mlLime juice½ tspCornstarch (cornflour)1 tbspMethod1. Pulp cherries with a hand blender, and place in a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pan along with the caster sugar, lime juice, water and cornstarch.2. Heat on medium until the cherries begin to release their liquid and then slowly bring to the boil, stirring continuously. Reduce to a simmer and heat until the cherry mixture has thickened to the desired consistency runny enough to pipe, but thick enough to prevent bleeding into the frosting. Allow to cool.l A Zombie Ate My Cupcake by Lily Vanilli is published by CICO Books at £9.99, hardback. Call 01256 302699 quoting GLR4JI to purchase a copy at the special price of £7.99 including free p&p
Alex WaughDirector general, NabimNow that the UK harvest is complete, there’s an opportunity to reflect on the grain market situation. First the good news: although smaller than anticipated, at 14.8 million tonnes, the British wheat harvest is still bigger than last year and the quality is generally acceptable. Indeed, around the world wheat stocks are expected to remain above 25% of annual usage, a reasonable buffer. Yet the market price remains far above the level of last year with UK bread wheat quotations in the north west about £200 per tonne compared with £130 in 2009.By now, everyone knows that drought in Russia and Ukraine reduced the crop size there by one-third, leading respectively to an export ban and very tight restrictions. The cheapest sellers have been removed from the world market and prices everywhere have risen as a result. As these countries will not re-enter export markets until they have grain available, this will remain a factor at least until the 2011 autumn harvest. By contrast, wet weather at harvest in Germany and central Europe has led to a relative scarcity of good quality wheat. The premium payable has therefore risen to £30 or £35 per tonne as buyers scour the world for supplies. But it’s not just about wheat supply; in October the US reduced its estimate of its maize harvest by 4%. Global wheat prices, which had been drifting, rose as a consequence and returned close to peak September levels.The overall tone of the market remains firm. But with the rest of the season likely to be punctuated by good and bad news from crops around the world, a rapid return to 2009 levels is not anticipated.
I was perfecting these delicious little cookies the week I launched my website and business in early 2009. They were so delicious, I put them on the menu. They have those amazing brownie qualities of a fudgey chocolate middle and a perfect crisp finish. The trick is in the timing it has to be spot on. Keep an eye on them in the final minutes, as they will only start to crack at the very end. When they have cracked all the way across the top take them out of the oven immediately. Beating the egg and sugar helps to give it that shiny brownie top by giving it some of the properties of meringue a good tip for any brownie recipe. These are delicious with chopped nuts or try them with white and milk chocolate chips.IngredientsMakes a baker’s dozenDark chocolate (chopped) 110gButter 20gSugar 50gMedium eggs 2Espresso powder 1/2 tspVanilla 1/2 tspMarriage’s or any quality plain flour 60gBaking powder 1/4 tspSalt 1/4 tspSmall handful toasted flaked almondsMethod1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler. To achieve best results, remove from the heat just as soon as all the butter has melted, and stir to melt the rest of the chocolate.2. In another bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs for two minutes vigorously by hand. Add the hot melted chocolate, then stir in the remaining ingredients, except for the almonds. Refrigerate for 1 hour.3. Scoop the dough roughly table tennis ball size onto lined baking sheets and two inches apart.4. Bake for 11 to 12 minutes in a 180C oven, until the tops are shiny and cracked. When they are cracked all the way across the top surface, they are done.5. Remove from the oven, and top with a flaked almond or two.6. Wait a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.