Business briefing

first_imgThe Federation of Small Businesses is warning about the threat of company identity fraud, following reports of bogus calls from people pretending to be Companies House officials.Fraudsters have targeted small businesses to try to get hold of secure authentication codes for Companies House files, which could then be used to set up fake companies and to steal money, goods and services.Companies House, which set up a secure online system for company filing following problems with identity fraud in the past, has posted a notice on its website confirming that they will never contact small businesses by telephone to ask for authentication codes.Small business owners need to look after company details carefully and not to respond to unsolicited calls from people saying they are from Companies House and asking for private information.Small business owners that receive such calls should try to obtain a return contact number and contact Companies House immediately.[] Reasons Employers Give For Not Paying The National Minimum WageHM Revenue & Customs has published a top 10 of some of the more unusual reasons given to its enforcement teams for not paying the minimum wage. The top ten worst excuses are:10. I only took him on as a favour;9. The workers can’t speak English;8. He’s over 65, so the national minimum wage doesn’t apply;7. She’s on benefits – if you add those to her pay, it totals the NMW; 6. They can’t cope on their own and it’s more than they would get in their own country;5. He’s disabled; 4. I didn’t think it applied to small employers; 3. I didn’t think the workers were worth NMW; 2. But she only wanted £3 an hour; 1. He doesn’t deserve it – he’s a total waste of space.HM Revenue & Customs has 16 minimum wage enforcement teams operating around the UK.Their job is to follow up complaints about non-payment of the minimum wage made to the helpline and to investigate employers at risk of not complying with the legislation.[] Age Can Be GoodEmployers can benefit from older workers and should do more to tackle age discrimination, according to research published by the Department for Work and Pensions.The Age Partnership Group (APG) sector specific research reports look at the challenges faced by nine sectors of the economy relating to the recruitment, training and retention of older workers and will be used for the Age Positive campaign ahead of the introduction of the Age Discrimination Legislation on 1 October this year.Older workers have a lower rate of absenteeism and are better motivated. This can have a positive impact for businesses who can benefit from a more flexible workforce with a wider range of skills and abilities.The reports gives employers good advice on how to comply with the Age Regulations.It also examines what employers are doing to remove compulsory retirement ages and adopt flexible approaches, as set out in the Pensions White Paper, as well as looking at how the age legislation affects young people in the workforce.[]center_img HSE Guidance To Help Shiftworkers Run Like ClockworkRaising awareness of the health and safety risks of shift work and offering solutions is the aim of a recent publication from the Health and Safety Executive.Poorly designed shift-working arrangements and long working hours that do not balance the demands of work with time for rest and recovery can result in fatigue, accidents, injuries and ill health.”Managing Shift Work: Health and Safety Guidance” explains employers’ legal duties and the risks associated with shiftwork and provides advice on risk assessment, design of shift work schedules and the shift-work environment.The guidelines are general, and cover a wide range of factors that may or may not be relevant to particular industry sectors.Therefore it is necessary to use common sense when applying them. Employers will also need to balance the good practice guidelines with the operational concerns of their businesses.”Managing shift work: Health and Safety Guidance” is available from HSE books at £9.95. HSE Books. Telephone 01787 881165.last_img read more

British Baker tackles corporate social responsibility

first_imgWith the baking industry under intense pressure to manage the impact of daily distribution schedules, high energy usage in production and the demands of global sourcing, CSR issues such as energy efficiency, ethical sourcing and waste management are high up the agenda of the forward-thinking business.The summit will look at what government, consumers and supermarkets are demanding from business and how to implement a CSR strategy from a bakery-specific perspective. Agenda items will include the Co-op’s launch of a Fairtrade bakery range and the benefits to suppliers of adopting a CSR strategy with a case study of Maple Leaf. The summit will be chaired by former National Farmers’ Union president Sir Ben Gill and held at One Great George Street, London. It follows on from the 2005 Baking Industry Summit on health, where speakers included health minister Caroline Flint and Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King. British Baker will be looking to chart a sustainable route forward for the baking industry by focussing on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at its latest Baking Industry Summit on 27th November 2008. The conference, taking place in One Great George Street, London, will bring together leading bakery suppliers, retailers and wholesalers as well as experts in fields such as energy efficiency, packaging and waste. Tickets are available for £225 + VAT per person. To book call Helen Law on 01293 846587. Click this link to visit our Baking Summit websitelast_img read more


first_imgThe wheat market at the moment can best be described as volatile (pg 4). Prices in North America have shown sudden escalation – a consequence of low global wheat stocks coupled with an increase in speculative fund activity in soft commodity markets.Over the past two weeks high-quality wheats, such as Canadian Western Red Springs and US Dark Northern Springs, the two main varieties, went up 66%. This will put extra pressure on the price of German E wheats.In the UK, among those noting the difference will be Maple Leaf, Warburtons and all those who make high-end speciality breads. Go-ahead company Maple Leaf (pg 6) a winner in ADM’s Bakery Food Manufacturer category at the 2007 Baking Industry Awards, bought La Fornaia last August.La Fornaia’s ciabatta and speciality breads are renowned but, as innovations director and MD Guy Hall says, the industry’s stability of the last 10 years has been turned on its head in just 18 months. He predicts: “We’re into choppy and uncertain waters. One overriding concern is the cost of price increases coming into the [Maple Leaf] business.”It is this topic that keeps my phone burning, as I talk to many of you in the industry. The uncertainty over price rises is particularly worrying, precisely because they can escalate so fast and it is so necessary for survival to pass them on.On a lighter note, my first thought on hearing that Sir Richard Branson had flown on the first commercial Virgin Atlantic jet trip using biofuel was: “I hope it’s not derivedfrom wheat!” It wasn’t. It was made using coconut oil and the future fuel, it seems, could be algae! Thank goodness. Wheat is designed to fuel our bodies, not a great clanking airliner. The sooner they develop algae fuel the better.Governments need to rule out the use of crops for fuel, when they are a vital staple of the food chain – not subsidise them for the transport industry. It makes a mockery of their natural purpose and is causing big price problems for rich and poor countries alike.Last week, I attended a conference put on by the Food & Drink Innovation Network. Fairtrade was foremost. It’s great that poor farmers in Africa have a ’price protection’ policy that takes into account price fluctuations. I bet UK suppliers wish they could have one too!last_img read more

Firefly reintroduces flavoured H20s

first_imgDrinks company Firefly has relaunched its waters range. The tea-infused antioxidant drinks were originally launched in glass bottles, but Firefly hopes the new PET bottles will help to open up new areas of business for the firm.Firefly Waters are available in green tea & mint, which has now been certified organic and a new white tea, pomegranate and elderflower flavour. The new drink contains half a cup of white tea from Fujian province (China), along with pomegranate and chokeberry juices. The company will soon be adding a new drink in its tonic range as well.Re-charge, a combination of pomegranate & echinacea with rose hip and ginseng, looks set to launch in early November. The new Firefly waters are available in 500g bottles in Waitrose and in a number of independent shops and cafés.RRP: £1.39[]last_img read more

Supermarket giant Tesco delists Hovis bread lines

first_imgby Sylvia MacdonaldIn an unprecedented move, Tesco has delisted approximately 11 Hovis breads. According to British Baker sources, the retailer refused to accept a price increase from the baker, leaving Hovis with no choice but to walk away.Scott Clarke, category director bakery, Tesco, referred BB to the retailer’s press office, who told us: “We cannot comment on our commercial agreements with suppliers. We always look to provide our customers with great-value bread.”The disagreement with Hovis Bread Bakeries began just over two weeks ago, when the baker sought a price rise. This followed a much-publicised increase in the price of wheat, which has had implications throughout the flour milling and baking trade worldwide.Other retailers have broadly accepted the need for a price rise in both flour and bread.Meanwhile, the Tesco helpline and Hovis Customer Care line are both having to field questions about the non-availabilityof some of the nation’s best-selling breads, with Hovis accounting for a branded bread volume market share of nearly 25%.Customer service at Tesco’s Hackney store in London said it was only stocking two Hovis lines medium and thick white and wholemeal instead of the usual range. “We have cancelled Hovis because we have brought in other lines,” said a customer service representative.At Newport and Cardiff, Wales, the stores had full deliveries of Hovis Soft White and Best of Both, but wholemeal and Granary loaves were among those not being stocked.Hovis Bread Bakeries and flour miller Rank Hovis are part of Premier Foods, which also owns brands such Mr Kipling, Hartley Jams and Branston pickles.Earlier in 2010, Hovis announced a conversion of all its branded bread to 100% British wheat to support UK farming.In August Premier’s six-month financial report showed Hovis branded sales were up 1.1%, while non-branded were down by 26% (six months to 26 June 2010).Branded bakery sales in the Hovis division increased by £2m to £183m compared to the first six months of 2009, but retailer brand bakery sales fell by more than a quarter from £100m to £74m, which the firm put down to consumers trading-up to branded products.>>Tesco versus Hovis: Viewpointlast_img read more

Cheese on the menu at Gail’s new store

first_imgOver 80 artisan cheeses, including stilton, Camembert de Normandie and Montgomery’s Cheddar, will be sold in a ’store within a store’ at Gail’s seventh bakery shop in London, which opens in Exmouth Market in December.The bakery has teamed up with upmarket cheesemonger Paxton & Whitfield to develop the concept, which will see a selection of British and European fine cheeses sold alongside the bakery’s range of artisan breads, sandwiches, soups, cakes and hot drinks. Customers will also be able to choose from Paxton & Whitfield’s own-label fine foods and cheese-serving accessories.The ’store within a store’, located in the middle of the shop, will be staffed by Paxton & Whitfield staff and includes a marble cheese serving counter with three large glass-fronted display fridges. Customers will be able to choose from a range of platters and sandwiches made with the bread and cheese.last_img read more

In Short

first_imgDrivers’ pasty panelPeter’s Foods has enlisted its own delivery drivers as pasty tasters. It has recruited 130 drivers to take part in a special tasting panel, and plans to encourage its team to take a pasty pit stop, while touring the country, to taste-test new ideas, and to give feedback on taste, texture, authenticity of flavour and ease of eating on-the-go.New look for biscuitsJammie Dodgers biscuits have undergone a full rebrand and packaging redesign, carried out by branding and packaging specialist Robot-food. The new-look brand will hit shelves in January 2011, followed by two new products under the ’Dodgers’ brand.Bimbo buys Sara LeeBread multinational Grupo Bimbo has acquired the North American bakery business of Sara Lee for $959m. Grupo Bimbo will gain the rights to the Sara Lee brand in the fresh baked goods category globally, with the exception of Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand. All of Sara Lee’s 13,000 North American bakery employees will transfer to Grupo Bimbo, plus 41 plants in the US.Northern’s profits hitBakery profit was up, but falling sales in Northern Foods’ Frozen division hit total profit for the 26 weeks ended 2 October 2010. The firm saw “continued strong biscuits performance” within Bakery, with profits up £2.1m to £10.3m.last_img read more

Cookies with a better bite

first_imgUlrick & Short has developed a new tapioca-based ingredient, which it claims can help bakers produce cookies that will not only stay fresher for longer, but will also meet consumer demand for lower fat products.Derived from clean label ingredient specialist’s Delyte range, it has a complex design structure which focuses on stability and enhanced organoleptic properties such as chewiness.The firm said that during product development trials, Delyte F could reduce fat content while enhancing the melt-in-the-mouth, morish properties that a typical high in butter, high in sugar chewy cookie would have. Ulrick & Short also says incorporation of the ingredient into existing formulas increases process tolerance through increased water binding and enhances overall moistness and shelf-life, which leads to less waste and a reduction in costs.last_img read more

Irish firms thrive

first_imgNorthern Ireland is a bakery market facing cost pressures equal to, if not greater than, GB. The emergence of large multiple retailers and consolidation in the retail sector has driven down prices over the past decade. One consequence is the proliferation of pound lines appearing on the shelves, hitting already tight profits for margin-squeezed manufacturers. While the region is believed to be ripe for consolidation in bakery, with a large number of small-to-medium operators, there is a raft of thriving companies with successful domestic and export businesses. The growing craft supplier Company: Genesis, Magherafelt Products: Speciality breads, including the honey and yogurt wheaten (brown soda), soda Farls, pancakes, rolls, including a range of sourdoughs and scones; Genesis Crafty brandFounded: McErlain’s Bakery formed in 1968 (rebranded in 1999 to become Genesis)Growth: turnover has increased 90% since 2000 Niche: handcrafted bakery products with a contemporary imageRetail: Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and TescoOwn-label: Superquinn and Musgrave Retail Partners in the Republic of IrelandHaving grown its brand considerably in retail, Genesis began servicing own-label supply through Marks & Spencer in 2010 and is eyeing up foodservice markets, supplying via the likes of Brakes. The planned growth of lines will contribute to a 30% increase in turnover in a matter of months.Liesa Johnston, Marketing and new business directorOn the move into own-label: “We realised it wasn’t enough to be a family business; you needed to be a brand. Now we need to collaborate with retailers and have brands and own-label side-by-side. A lot of indigenous Northern Ireland companies have grown their business on the back of own-label and are now trying to do the brand stuff, which is a lot more difficult. We have established the brand and have it ticking over quite comfortably, while we set ourselves the challenge of becoming own-label suppliers. It’s going to make us a better business.”How own-label began: “We started producing cakes for [Marks & Spencer], one of which has been hugely successful: a jam bake, which we call a cheesecake in Northern Ireland. It’s a pastry cake with raspberry jam and a sponge on the top. It’s probably a product Mrs McErlain made in the 1960s, but it’s just taken off in M&S. Now we have 25-30,000 products a week going into 690 stores.”Craft versus mass-produced: “[M&S] said, ’Leave the tea-time range where it is. We want to retain you guys as our craft bakery and there are lots of other things you could do for us, rather than going down the [mass-produced] route.’ They were very reluctant for us to start spending E500,000 on new pieces of kit to bang out the stuff that large firms can do just as well. Our product is different because of the handmade element. Our pastries are actually all stamped by hand. We can do heart-shaped products for Valentine’s Day or shamrocks for St Patrick’s Day, which not many other people will bother doing.” The crafty plant baker Company: Irwin’s, Portadown Products: Breads batch, healthy and traditional, including Irwin’s Brand, Nutty Krust Brand, Rankin Selection Brand, Guinness Wholegrain Bread; also Howell House pastries and cakesFounded: Established in 1912, the family-run bakery is Northern Ireland’s largest independent bakery and specialises in Irish breads; Irwin’s accounts for around 85% of all Irish breads sold in Great Britain Innovation: ’Nutty Krust’ is Irwin’s most successful product to date using traditional batch baking (baked on the oven sole) and 18-hour sponge fermentation. Originally launched in the 1960s, it has recently secured listings in 300 stores across Great Britain, rebranded as ’Irwin’s Irish Batch’ in a 400g variantGrowth: In 2006, Irwin’s acquired cake and tray-bake specialist, ’Howell House’ to introduce a specialist home bakery category. Irwin’s invested in the division and strategically rebranded to ’Howell’s Handmade’Industry support: Niall Irwin is president of the Irish Association of Master Bakers. “I’d urge the bakers to join, support it and take part in it. They will learn from talking to others and grow together. I’m particularly aiming at the craft sector.”A lot of the company’s marketing has been family and health-driven: it reduced salt below 2012 target levels in brown bread before the Food Standards Agency was even born, as a response to the high cardiovascular disease rate in Northern Ireland; it introduced folic acid and calcium at a time when Northern Ireland had the highest incidence of spina bifida in the world.Michael Murphy (MM) and niall irwin (NI)You’re a plant baker that has retained longer fermentation methods why? [MM] “We believe there’s a route that says making bread that way is better for your digestive system. We’re trying to prove it, working with the University of Ulster to understand the science behind the old-fashioned methods. That’s not to say the Chorleywood Bread Process (CBP) isn’t needed, because without it we couldn’t feed 60 million people every day. But our roots are in craft bakery and as we’ve expanded, we’ve automated some of our processes; we believe CBP has taken a bit of flavour out of bread and we’d like to put that back in.”On fortifying bread with folic acid: [NI] “We did it several years ago and at considerable cost, but we hope we have played our part in producing a more healthy generation. Tapping into the Northern Ireland health strategy sets us apart from GB brands.”On a spurt in social media marketing: [MM] “As individuals, we’re not totally comfortable with Facebook and twitter! But when we run an on-pack offer with a tourism partner, we will drive 40,000 hits to the website. Our consumers are web-literate. and we’re developing strategies that are right for them.”On Northern Ireland as a place with great food provenance: [MM] “We have a great food industry and we’ve only just started shouting about it as food producers we can all benefit from that.” The zero food miles pie-maker Company: Braeside Country Pies, Loughgall in Co ArmaghProducts: Sweet filled pies (ambient and frozen), fruit loaves, barm bracks, cakes and confectioneryFounded: Bakery established in 2004 on a bramley apple farm to add value to the family fruit businessGrowth: the acquisition in 2008 of Christine’s Farmhouse Bakery expanded the product range into cakes, tray bakes, biscuits and traditional Irish fruit loaves; £826,000 turnover with 10% growth forecast this yearRetail: In 2010, it secured its listings in the UK multiple and independent retail sector and is now being distributed by Cambridge-based Fordham Fine Foods and Devon Cakes of Otteryexports: the Republic of Ireland represents around 36% of its businessIf a box needs ticking that says ’locally sourced,’ Braeside is your go-to apple pie-maker. The bramley apple grower, with a 50-acre orchard in Co Armagh, set up a bakery in 2004 and has grown to supply wholesalers, convenience stores and retailerssuch as Asda.Lesley McNeill Co-ownerWhy pie? “Initially we bought a pie line to make apple tarts, pies and crumbles. The whole idea behind the business was to process it and put it straight into the tart, non-preserved and frozen if you want it that way. It became increasingly difficult to survive making apple pies alone, so we diversified into cakes, buns and longer shelf-life products.”Targeting Great Britain for growth: “We are doing increased turnover supplying through Devon Cakes, and the product has been very good for us in the south of England. In recent months we’ve done a deal to supply four loaf cakes, which they were previously sourcing from another bakery. We’ve just developed a 12-inch non-preserved apple pie for the catering industry. We would like to do more in the GB market. It’s difficult to get into the mainland, and working with Invest Northern Ireland has helped us speak to the right people and given us credibility.”The difficulties of getting product into GB: “The high cost of transport is an issue, as is reliability. We’re on our second transporter. With the first, on one occasion, we sent 36 cases of cakes, 11 of which arrived damaged!”Tough market conditions: “Sometimes you go to a distributor and you’re more or less told the price point. If you’re told it’s £1.25, they won’t accept £1.27 there’s not even 2p flexibility; you have to work with your ingredients provider and your labour, and do all you can do to hit the price point. The par-baker – riding the Subway Company: Evron Foods Group, Portadown Products: Frozen and chilled speciality bread and bakery products including dough pieces, garlic breads, ciabattas, parbaked French breads, “tear and share” breads, flatbreads, plus a range of Italian-style breads; ambient products were introduced in 2009 and it has extended its offering to confectionery, such as apple pies and muffinsFounded: Established in 1984, Evron is an independent, privately-owned company servicing the retail, foodservice, wholesale and food-processing/sandwich-manufacturing market sectors; it has a second facility in South WalesGrowth: With a turnover of £26.5m, it is planning to invest £15m over the next five yearsEvron supplies the bread for Subway outlets in the UK and Ireland, which has propelled it into a major player in par-baked products. It has made big investment in ’high-care’ production facilities and diversifying its products.Jonathan Durnell NPD managerOn entering the gluten-free market servicing the Mrs Crimbles gluten-free brand: “One of the bigger investments on our part in the last couple of years has been gluten-free lines. Gluten-free has been a big project for us over the past 18 months. We produce breads, rolls and baguette-shaped products, working alongside our customers. We’re close to a gluten-free baguette. We’re focusing on a bit of blue sky, healthier eating and clean-label products, which we’ve done a lot of work on in the past few months.”Developing breads for Subway: “Subway, along the American lines, is trying to bring in healthier options, which aren’t out [in the market] yet. But they’re looking to add more fibre into their rolls, and they want to be able to make a health claim on that roll. We’ve been working on that for a number of months. It’s a side of the business that’s growing all the time.” The high street ’home bakery’ Company: Heatherlea Bakery, BangorProduct range: Wide selection of baked goods, including cakes, tray bakes, breads and fresh deli produce; its boiled cake and fruit loaf have won several Great Taste AwardsFounded: Established in 1937 and has expanded over time and relocated to 6,000sq ft specialist food production premises located one mile from a busy retail shop, deli and café. It was bought in 1990 by Patricia and Paul GettyThe Heatherlea Bakery is a small family business based in Bangor Northern Ireland. Adapting has been key to its success, even going so far as to develop several breakfast cereals for prestigious clients in Northern Ireland and the Republic. Members of the Artisan Bakers of Northern Ireland a group of like-minded bakers dedicated to preserving and improving the skills of artisan bakers it has benefited from a collaborative network to develop products and cut costs.Paul Getty Co-ownerIs craft bakery resilient in Northern Ireland? “It’s holding its own. The major evolutions have been the decrease in white bread sales, an increase in speciality bread and an increase in pastry and cake lines. Our advantage is probably that there are so few traditional home bakeries and we’re offering such a fantastic product that it’s up to us to get the message out to people local people making local produce and your money is staying in your town. We don’t need the multiples vacuuming the money out of Northern Ireland.”Your background is clothing retail how did you find the merchandising of bakery? “There tended not to be much variety, only standard fare. We like the wholefoods look; Ottolenghi in London is a favourite. We travel a lot [for product inspiration] and we were selling whoopie pies six months before Marks & Spencer, but it took the latter to validate that product in the minds of consumers.”On membership of the Artisan Bakers of Northern Ireland: “With fellow bakers we can hit the ground running, get our problems solved and get new ideas. We’re buying together now and it is beneficial to have some buying power as a group.”The margin squeeze: “Suppliers have been too quick to pass on their price rises because the end-users will start to buy less product. We have raised prices, but not as quickly as a proper economic model would suggest we do, because the consumer would not tolerate it.”last_img read more

Small is beautiful

first_imgAn increasing number of companies are focusing more and more on making and supplying products for the food-to-go and coffee shop markets.Bells of Lazonby’s new brand ’We Love Cake’, launched this summer, has been developed to supply the wholesale and coffee shop sector. It features a range of traybakes that can be eaten on the go. Meanwhile, Delice de France has just launched its ’Café Delice’ concept, designed to house all products suitable for bakery foodservice operations under one roof. Launched in response to the growing café culture in the UK, the new portfolio contains 200 products, deemed most suitable to match the café culture trend, and includes a new ’Wrapped-to-go’ concept. This range features 15 ’on-the-go’ favourites, including a chocolate chip cookie, chocolate brownie, granola bar, pain au chocolat, flapjack bites, blueberry muffin, and Bakewell cake bar. The individually wrapped products have been designed to offer consumers some of their favourite snacks while giving foodservice outlets a convenient ’thaw and sell’ range that will help to drive impulse purchases from the 58% of people in the UK who eat cake or cake bars as a snack, says the firm.Research from Mintel on the cakes and cake bars market, published earlier this year, revealed that unwrapped and fresh cakes were experiencing the highest market penetration. However, wrapped cakes were not far behind, said Mintel, reflecting the rising popularity of convenience formats.The data showed these products were generally eaten on an infrequent basis once a week or less and that children were a key driver of impulse purchases. However, Mintel added that the growing prominence of wrapped cakes and cake bars in the snacking market had given them a slightly stronger base of more frequent users.Berkshire-based The Handmade Cake Company has had a separate cakes-to-go range of products since 2008. It features seven lines, including caramel shortcake, raspberry and coconut slice, and cranberry and sultana flapjack, made to the same recipes as its popular traybakes range. Simon Law, sales director at the firm, says that, until now, the range has been available in an 80-85g size. “We will be relaunching that range in 2012, in a smaller 65-70g format,” says Law.”We’ve seen a lot of interest from both operators and consumers, who appreciate being able to buy a premium product that is wrapped. The other equally important trend is that portion sizes are getting smaller. It’s not only about price, which has a part to play, but it is more about calories and not wanting to feel too guilty about your purchase.”He says women, especially, are more likely to buy something packaged in a smaller format. The new range will be more elegant in shape, explains Law, with a longer, more slender design. It will feature two new flavours a granola bar, as “we think morning snacking is an important part of the food-to-go opportunity”, and Caramel Heaven a flapjack base topped with golden caramel and finished with cranberries, dark chocolate chunks, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. The Maple and Pecan Slice will be dropped, making the relaunched range eight-strong.Other smaller-format cake options that have recently hitthe market are B-tempted’s gluten-free range of mini food-to-go cakes, which will be available in Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and Whole Foods Market. Meanwhile, Swizzels Matlow, manufacturer of the iconic Love Hearts sweets, recently teamed up with a Manchester-based cupcake firm to launch a line of cupcakes decorated with new Mini Love Hearts. The cupcakes are available in Hey Little Cupcake! in Spinningfields in Manchester city centre or online.Gemma Hopcroft, sales and marketing executive from gingerbread manufacturer Image on Food, says food-to-go has been one the main growth areas of its business. “Whereas, traditionally, our products were seen more as a ’gift’ product with a decorative ribbon finish, we realised that our best sales were coming from companies that provided a food-to-go service,” explains Hopcroft. “Now, our business is split equally in terms of producing a gift product and a convenience/food-to-go product and we offer a range that has been designed for that ’quick’ pick-up line that represents value for money, but still has a point of difference.”Hopcroft says customers are demanding a higher-quality product for their food-to-go needs. Just because the product is quick and easy to pick up, it doesn’t mean they want to sacrifice anything in terms of taste, appearance and presentation. She says Image on Food will be introducing a new range that has been designed under its brand name The Gingerbread Gang. It will feature eight new designs, some which would work all year round and others that take advantage of the seasons or calendar events, such as the Queen’s Jubilee and the 2012 Olympics, she explains.Catch your customer’s eyen Size matters and, in this case, small is beautiful. Single-portion cakes sales are on the up, as firstly customers are trying to reduce the wastage that comes with bigger portions, but also because individually packed cakes and biscuits provide the convenience and are a great addition to a packed lunch. The economic climate has had little impact on the spend and love of cakes and biscuits. Place your most popular sweet products next to other categories, such as hot beverages and sandwiches. ’Feed me now’ offers can improve your sales of both products, as research shows that more than half of consumers regularly enjoy meal combinations.Customers are always willing to try new cakes and biscuits especially ones that offer a health benefit. Consider reviewing your offer to include lower- or reduced-fat biscuits. By introducing healthy eating ranges and incorporating messages such as low-calories or high-fibre, your business can reach 37% of consumers who are cutting down on the amount of biscuits and cakes they eat by replacing them with healthier alternatives.Regarding flavours, Mintel reports that customers in particular women are more likely to try new biscuits and cakes. Classics such as red velvet, chocolate and cheesecake will always be in demand. However, flavours such as white chocolate champagne cake, whole nuts and fruit loaves, carrot cake muffins are attractive alternatives (Mintel, June 2011).Things to consider with your food-to-go cakes and biscuitsn Shelf-life: don’t have wastage from out-of-date stock. Unless you’re certain a product will sell in the time, always stick to the safe optionn Visual attractiveness: a customer will always buy with their eyes first, especially if they are in a rushn Variety: it is the spice of life. If you have regular customers then make sure your range doesn’t get too stale for them; seasonal changes are great way to do this.Source: Image on Foodlast_img read more