Fortification of bakery and other foods with Folic Acid in Ireland will not get under way until at least March or April, writes Anne Marie Foley. Following public consultation, the National Committee on Folic Acid Food Fortification is expected to complete its report in February. The Minister for Health, Mary Harney, will then decide if or how to introduce and implement voluntary or mandatory fortification. Sources suggest there will be some form of fortification of bread but, as British Baker went to press, the committee was discussing issues such as dosage and who will bear the cost, which is estimated to run into hundreds of thousands of Euros per year. The Irish Bread Bakers Association welcomes fortification but is concerned about who will bear the cost. It cannot be passed on to the consumer and margins are already very tight on bread, it says. However, if fortification is introduced under regulation the Irish Government is limited in what it can contribute. Ireland is among the first nations in the EU, including the UK, to consider fortification of foods with folic acid.
Advanced Dynamics (Brad-ford, West Yorks), has recently introduced into the UK bakery sector a label applicator, said to be ideal for flow-wrapped and vacuum-packed bakery items.The Eurokett VEGA is equipped with stepper motor drive to provide a high level of control during the labelling process. It gives a +/-0.8mm position accuracy and has integrated programmable controls built into the system’s back plate.Eurokett VEGA can handle labels measuring 10mm to 110mm width and operates at speeds of up to 30 metres of label roll per minute, or up to 150 labels per minute.
As preferred bakery specialists of Foster products in the UK, Brook Food Processing Equipment (Minehead, Somerset) says it has been impressed with the advance in technology that these have brought to its specialised market within the last few years. Foster displayed its range of refrigeration equipment at Food & Bake earlier this year. A removable condenser filter, that covers the refrigeration system and can be cleaned easily, sets all Foster’s bakery cabinet retarders apart from the rest, claims the firm. With this installed, bakers don’t need to worry that their refrigeration is under-performing in a dusty bakery environment – something that has long been a problem in the market. Cabinets are also able to work in temperatures of up to 43ºC. Brook Food says it is working alongside Foster as a specialised bakery dealer to provide the modern baker with an effective solution to bakery refrigeration.
n The Costa Coffee chain has doubled its target of having 1,000 stores worldwide by 2010 to 2,000, quadrupling its present count. Costa plans to open 200 stores in Poland, Romania and Bulgaria within three years. Its estate already includes 157 outlets in 13 countries overseas.n International food exhibition Sial saw more than 140,000 visitors through its doors (3% up on the last event) during the five-day exhibition in Paris, which hosted 5,302 exhibitors from 99 countries and showcased 460 new products.n Warburtons has been awarded a Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents gold award for health and safety operations at its Tuscany Park site in Yorkshire.n ICI is to sell Quest, its flavours and fragrance business, to Givaudan for £1.2 bn. Subject to approval by shareholders, regulatory approval and employee consultation, completion will take place during Quarter 1, 2007.n 14 staff at the Genesis bakery in Magherafelt, Northern Ireland, have passed their Food Hygiene and Food Safety qualifications.n Cargill’s Xtend Isomaltulose, a slow digestible sugar resulting in a low blood glucose and insulin response, has won the Hi Europe 2006 Gold Award for the best innovation in health ingredients.n The Hovis TV commercial featuring a boy pushing a bicycle up a cobbled street was voted the third most iconic TV ad in a BBC Good Food Magazine poll. The “For mash get Smash!” commercial of 1974 for Smash instant mash was the top ad, followed by an ad for Cadbury’s Flake.
Year-on-year sales at Memory Lane Cakes are up 3.3% and have risen 15% at speciality bread producer Nicholas & Harris after 20 weeks of Finsbury Food Group’s financial year.All the growth at Memory Lane has come in the latter half of that period, after a quiet summer.The group’s The Best at What We Do Focus that targets a dominant position in premium cakes is also progressing well, according to chairman Lord Saatchi, speaking at the company’s annual general meeting on 29 November.The revamped retailer-branded premium cake ranges of Tesco Finest and Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference are both performing strongly and a second phase of development has started.Similar development activity is underway with three other retailers, with a further launch imminent.Good progress is said to have been made in implementing the recovery programme at the West Lothian factory of United Central Bakeries following the fire on 31 October.The loss is fully insured and payments have been made to enable replacement equipment to be ordered.Prospects for Finsbury remain “encouraging” and the group says it is looking to the rest of the year with confidence.
New regulation on nutrition and health claims will apply from 1 July 2007.Regulation No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament will control the nutrition and health claims made on food and provide consumer protection. Legislation will be unified across the EU.The regulation will provide a list of permitted claims that can be made on food, together with the criteria that a product must meet to use these claims.Examples of nutrition claims and the conditions that apply to them include:? ’low fat’ – the claim can only be made where the product contains no more than 3% fat? ’low sugars’ – no more than 5% sugars in a product? ’low salt’ – no more than 0.12% of salt? ’high fibre’ – at least 6% fibre? ’high source of protein’ – the product must contain at least 10% of the Dietary Reference Values (DRV)? ’high source of vitamins and minerals’ – the product contain at least 15% DRV.Article 4 of the legislation states that by 29 January 2009, the European Commission shall establish specific nutrient profiles, which will define:? the quantities of certain nutrients, such as fat, salt and sugar and other substances in the food? the role, importance and contribution of the food in the diet? the composition of the food including any nutrients that have been scientifically recognised as having an effect on health.Nutrient profiling will establish the exact health claims that can be used for common ingredients such as omega 3 and calcium.
Premier Foods said it expected to hit its 2008 profit targets despite a decline in branded sales in the second half of 2007.Christmas trading was satisfactory across the group and was led by the cakes and customer partnerships businesses, said the company.The main cost pressure over the year came from increases in the price of wheat. Premier said bread price rises and cost savings had helped to offset the effect of more expensive raw materials. Profitability had also been enhanced by the progress of the rationalisation plan with two factory closures in 2007 and seven more planned in 2008-2009. Second half sales were up 3%, while sales over the full year should be 1.6% higher.The cakes and bread bakeries divisions were the best performers with sales gains of 7% and 6% respectively. By contrast branded business fell by 8%.Premier Foods CEO, Robert Schofield, said: “We foresaw raw material and packaging inflation led by wheat but also affecting dairy, fruits and vegetables. Whilst these additional costs have had an impact in the second half of 2007 we have recovered a large proportion of these cost increases through pricing and cost savings.”
The British Society of Baking is to hold its autumn conference on the 6 and 7 October at the Coombe Abbey Hotel, Binley, Coventry.The event will include the AGM, dinner and entertainment on the Monday evening and a conference the following day.Conference speakers include David Smart from Greenhalgh’s, who will give a talk on the business and Peter Jones of Speedibake who will talk about turning around the company’s fortunes. Pat Smyth, president of the Irish Association of Master Bakers and Managing Director of Yeast Products, will give an overview of the Irish Bakery Market. Callton Young of the Food & Drink Federation will talk about the federation’s five-fold environmental ambition.For details and to book, contact the BSB on 01869 247098/277094.
Inflation on the price of baked goods is running well below the food industry average, as retai-lers look to hold prices on staple products such as bread.According to a report from research company Verdict, food inflation for the first four months of 2009 averaged 12%, but the rate for baked goods was just 5.6%.”Bakery is still inflationary, but it is now one of the weaker areas of price inflation,” said Neil Saunders, consulting director at Verdict. “As bread is a staple and known-value item, most retailers are very conscious of keeping the price competitive.”The Verdict research found that the price of a value 800g loaf of sliced white bread had increased by 4.2% in the past year to 39p. Standard and premium loaves had increased by 7.3% and 6.7% respectively to 94p and £1.19.There are signs that inflation levels across the food sector are starting to come down, with a sharp fall in April, said Verdict. The annual food inflation rate fell from 12.5% in March to 7.6% in April.The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that food inflation fell from 9% to 7.9% between March and April. “We expect food inflation will continue to slow, as sterling appears to have stabilised, grocers renegotiate contracts and continued weakness in the economy spurs on competition in the grocery market,” said Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC.
It has been reported that adding trace mineral selenium to UK wheat may cut the risk of cancer and increase the overall health of the population. However, many are opposed to the idea on the grounds that it would be enforced ‘mass medication’.According to a speech made by Professor Steve McGrath, of Rothamsted Research, at the British Science Festival this week, research has shown that adding selenium to fertilisers used in UK wheat production could have a wide range of health benefits. These include a stronger immune system, lower cancer rates and slower cognitive decline. Selenium also forms part of the body’s antioxidant defence system, preventing damage to cells and tissues.The findings came from Biofortification through Agronomy and Genotypes to Elevate Levels of Selenium (BAGELS), a ‘farm to fork’ project (2005-2009) sponsored by Defra through the Sustainable Arable LINK Programme. The project looked at whether selenium levels of UK-grown wheat could be increased safely by using selenium-containing fertilisers, without causing harm to the environment. “His research suggests that adding about 20g of selenium per hectare of wheat would give 10mg in each slice of bread,” reported The Times Online. However, the idea has been compared to the ‘mass medication’ of the population through adding fluoride to water and has outraged campaigners.Food Standards Agency (FSA) guidelines recommend a daily dose of 0.075 mg a day for men and 0.06 mg a day for women, and its Eatwell website states that bread is already a good source of selenium. Other sources include Brazil nuts, fish, meat and eggs. The FSA states that people who eat a balanced diet including meat, fish or nuts, “should be able to get all the selenium you need”.