The Byron Bay Cookie Company was founded by Maggi Miles and Gary Lines, fashion industry workers who returned to their native Australia after six years in New York. While considering their next business venture, the couple started baking for local markets under the name Pickles, Pies and Petticoats. Ms Miles soon developed a White Choc Chunk & Macadamia Cookie and a Triple Choc Fudge Cookie that remain the company’s top-selling products. Demand for the products grew from the local café then a national listing in department store Myer convinced the couple they should concentrate on baking. The company’s name was changed officially to the Byron Bay Cookie Company in the late 1990s.Today, the business supplies gourmet food stores across Australia, plus Qantas, Virgin Blue and Rex Airlines, as well as Harvey Nichols, Selfridges, John Lewis and the Windsor Farm Shop in the UK, and department stores in Singapore and Ireland. Last year, Byron Bay received a gold award at the Great Taste Awards, organised by the Guild of Fine Food Retailers, for its Sticky Date & Ginger Café Cookie. Other products include the Café Cookie range (packed by the dozen in disposable counter-top boxes). There is also a gluten- and wheat-free range of four shortbreads and cookies. The company says this range retains the flavour of the originals thanks to the use of locally sourced gluten-free flour without additives or preservatives, plus the artisan baking methods used for all products. This year the company relaunched its ranges with new packaging, depicting the lifestyle of 1930s Australia and featuring images of “fun-filled days spent on unspoilt Australian beaches”. Along with the new packaging are some clever new products, including cookie ‘towers’, tins containing individually wrapped cookies and smaller gift packs featuring ‘baby button’ cookies. As well as new edible products, the company has introduced a new form of packaging. Made from corn starch, the Plantic tray is said to be completely safe for humans, as well as being biodegradable.Add to this display jars filled with cookies and shortbreads, the nine-strong range of savoury cheese crackers, flatbreads and breadsticks and the ability to order any product in bulk for foodservice, and you can see this is a company which has expanded beyond its humble farmhouse kitchen beginnings. However, it remains commited to ‘home-made’ cookies. Byron Bay’s products;Cookies:White Choc Chunk & Macadamia Nut Triple Choc ChunkSticky Date & GingerWhite Chocolate Apricot NougatFig & PecanNatural Honey & OatmealShortbreads:Lemon & Macadamia NutButterscotch & AlmondSavouries:Parmesan Crackers (with Fennel Seed or Cayenne Pepper)Polenta Crisps (with coriander and Jalapeno)Flatbreads (with Sesame & Poppyseed, Jordanian Sumac or Semi-Dried Kalamata Olive)Breadsticks (with Organic Sea Salt, Roast Garlic & Cracked Black Pepper)
Café franchise chain Coffee Republic aims to open 100 more sites in the next year.The bulk of the new outlets will be franchises and concessions. New locations will include the Midlands and the north of England, as well as Scotland.The ambitious expansion plan comes despite operating losses of £1.63m for the year ending 25 March, 2007, compared to losses of £1.05m the previous year.The chain currently has 71 sites mainly in London, south east England and the Thames Valley.Peter Breach, chairman of the company, said: “We are on course for a doubling of the domestic portfolio.”
The Federation of Bakers (FoB) is set to relaunch its website in a bid to reach more consumers.”It’s very important that we stay in touch with our consumers and make information easily accessible to them,” Gordon Polson, director of the FoB told British Baker.From this month, the new-look site will include information about bread and the plant baking industry, as well as recipes, fact sheets and reports.Topics from nutrition to labelling, and the history of bread and how it is made are also covered on the site.The new website also features a special area, where members can keep abreast of industry issues.Polson added: “The website will be bang up to date, with the latest news on industry issues such as folic fortification and salt reduction.”
bakery market was worth £42m in the year to November 2007, representing a small proportion of the total organic food market in the UK, which stands at £2bn.The new research, conducted by Leatherhead Food International, also found that organic bread is worth £26m, up 25.3% in the past year.The report, which was commissioned by ingredients supplier British Bakels, claimed that “significant expansion of the organic bread market could be held back by a lack of local wheat supplies”. Most organic wheat is imported from Canada, the Ukraine and Kazakhstan.”Bread lags behind other food products in terms of share of consumer spend,” said Paul Morrow, MD of British Bakels. “If we were to achieve the same share for organic bread of the retail market as the majority of other organic products, sales would virtually double.”The report found there has been limited activity in the organic cakes market. “Consumers shopping for cakes are more likely to base choices on convenience or indulgence than ethical concerns,” said the report.See 1 February, 2008, issue for more on the organic market.
The Association of Bakery Ingredient Manufacturers (ABIM) 2008 Forum, Growing A Sustainable Bakery Industry, is to take place on 6 June at the Devonshire Arms Country House Hotel, Bolton Abbey, Skipton. The event will start with a buffet lunch and networking opportunity, followed by a programme of talks in the afternoon. Ed Garner from TNS Worldwide Panel will be discussing ‘Who is the “health conscious UK consumer?”, looking at the health conscious buying habits of UK consumers, and what the future might hold for the baking industry.Matthew May from the Alliance for Bakery Students and Trainees will be discussing what the perspective of bakery students and trainees is, and what the industry’s needs are for the future in terms of education and training.Improve Ltd will be looking at the current skills, challenges and opportunities available in the industry, and what can be done to address skills gaps. Other guest speakers include Alette Addison from the Food Standards Agency, and Dr Wayne Martindale from the Food Innovation Centre, Sheffield Hallam University.For more information or to register please contact Anne Boyd, ABIM on 0207 420 7102 or email [email protected]
Crisps and snacks manufacturer Walker’s has redesigned the packaging of its Sensations crisps brand as part of a multi-million-pound campaign to drive the brand’s growth. New flavours are also being introduced to its sharing range and the brand will feature in new TV advertising and will also have its own dedicated website. The new black packa-ging for the £77m brand aims to increase shelf stand-out.A number of flavours are available in a 40g format, including Thai Sweet Chilli, Roasted Chicken and Thyme and Oriental Red Curry.RSP: 54p – 40g bags[http://www.sensationscrisps.co.uk]
Shara Aaron and Monica BeardenPrometheus Books, 215 pages, approx £13.50If you can get past any trust issues you might have about a book on chocolate that is written by two authors with only-in-America-ultra-blindingly-bright toothy grins adorning the inside dust jacket, Chocolate provides a handy guide to all things chocolatey, from manufac-turing to the psychology of consumption.The authors, having worked in the US chocolate industry promoting its health benefits, clearly adore the dark stuff – perhaps hinted at by the chapter titled A Chocolate Love Affair. And who could argue if, as they say, chocolate makes you prettier, brainier and live longer?There’s a guide to how to choose your chocolate, based on the content of disease-inhibiting flavanols (generally speaking, the higher the cacao content, the better); how chocolate can make you look more beautiful (drink a high flavanol cocoa drink every day); and how flavanols improve cognitive ability to sharpen the brain.The book is pretty comprehensive, covering everything from chocolate making to the flavours of the various origins of chocolates, how to taste chocolate at its optimal level and how to store it. This is embellished with a series of chocolate-based recipes, including two ’Better-than-sex’ cake recipes, whose claim inevitably rests on the quality of the chocolate you use!
== Doughnut Week ==National Doughnut Week kicks off tomorrow (9 May), so craft bakers should make sure they have all your promotional material on display and your doughnuts at the ready. The week, which runs until 16 May, raises money for charity The Children’s Trust, while boosting doughnut sales.== SAMB event details ==The Scottish Association of Master Bakers’ (SAMB) new format conference is taking place from 16-17 May, at the Dalmahoy Hotel and Country Club in Edinburgh. It will start on the Saturday afternoon with technical sessions, followed by the presidential banquet with Abba tribute band, Feeva. On Sunday morning, the SAMB will install its new president, Alister Asher. For details, contact the SAMB on 0131 229 1401.== Bakehouse gets an ’A’ ==Bakehouse Scotland has achieved full British Retail Consortium Accreditation, with a Grade A pass. To achieve its expansion plans, the firm needed to target multinational retailers. It set up a strategic management team last October to ensure compliance in all areas needed to gain certification.== Potts’ Pies gets football fan’s vote ==Potts’ Pies supply the best half-time snack anywhere in the country, according to football fan Tom Dickinson, who travelled to all 92 Football League clubs to sample their crusty delicacies. He voted Morecambe FC’s the best – supplied by local baker Potts’ Pies.== Starch joint venture ==National Starch Food Innovation has partnered with Campden BRI to drive new product development, particularly in bakery. It has several projects in the pipeline investigating the role of starch in baked goods.
Haiti fundraiserA cake designer from Surrey has organised a fundraising event Cakes For Haiti in order to raise money for the country following the earthquake last month. Janet Mohapi-Banks is encouraging everyone, from businesses to schools and individuals, to take part in National Cake Sale Day, on 26 March and donate the proceeds to the DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal. Find out more at www.cakesforhaiti.org.Gail’s adds outletArtisan bakery Gail’s is opening its fifth shop in Queens Park, London at the end of this month.Festival backingIndependent family business and coffee specialist Taylors of Harrogate will be the key sponsor at the UK’s first coffee festival in Bath from 15-16 May 2010. Pasty maker Ginsters and Wiltshire-based Marshfield Bakery are also sponsoring the event.Fraud investigationIcelandic business Bakkavör, which owns New Primebake and Laurens Patisseries in the UK, had its Spalding headquarters and its London offices searched by the Serious Fraud Office in January, as part of an investigation into the financial crash in Iceland.Market drawThe Flour Station has taken on a stall at Clapham Market and is also planning to return to Covent Garden. It also trades at four other markets.Diploma championAngela Coleshill, director of competitiveness at the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), has been named employer champion for the new Diploma in Manufacturing and Product Design (MPD). She will work to raise the profile of the diploma, which is for 14- to 19-year-olds
Tucked away in a quiet residential street, just off Mile End Road in Whitechapel, London, is wholesale bakery Rinkoffs. Established by Russian-born master baker Hyman Rinkoff in 1911, the bakery is now run by the third and fourth generation of the family. Although the business, which employs around 35 staff, is now predominantly a wholesale operation, with around 5% of its business from its shop attached to the production bakery in Jubilee Street, and a café on Vallance Road, that wasn’t always the case.Director of bakery production Ray Rinkoff explains that when the business was founded by his grandfather Hyman, who emigrated to England in 1905, it was essentially just a corner shop. The original outlet was situated on Old Montague Street, with Hyman, his wife and seven children living above the bakery and shop.Ray joined the business as a baker when he was 15 years old. At that time, the business was mainly a retail outfit, with only a 5% wholesale operation, supplying products such as crusty rolls and fairy cakes to local cafés. Move forwards another 10 years and Ray’s oldest brother Derek, director of finances, joined the business. “We decided we were going to go either one way or the other retail or wholesale,” says Ray. “We saw the supermarkets really starting to take off, so we decided to move more into the wholesale side.”That proved to be a pivotal decision, as Derek freely admits that the business would not have survived on the high street just selling white bread and rolls. Its ’Chola’ bread a type of challah is currently supplied to the food halls of Harrods, Selfridges and John Lewis among other smaller chains, and it also supplies several City corporations, including: Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and Google.”Being a Jewish bakery, Sunday used to be our busiest day,” says Ray. “It was very much a family business; my mum and dad were also working here, and we needed extra people to help make orders up as the wholesale business started to grow, so Lloyd (Derek’s son) started to come in.” Ray taught him how to bake and, when he could drive, he would come to the bakery at 4am until around 7.30am, and then go to school, he says. Lloyd officially joined the business when he was 18 years old, and is now director of bakery operations and transport.”Harvey [Derek and Ray’s brother] also came into the business about 10 years after Derek to work as director of sales, and he pushed the bakery’s sales up considerably,” says Ray. At that point, the business was trying to get in with the likes of Harrods and Harvey Nichols. Harvey simply phoned round and asked to speak to the buyers; he had a lucky break with the buyer at Harrods, who was keen on the sound of its continental breads, and asked Rinkoffs to bring some in. This deal then carried a lot of weight when it came to approaching other high-end retailers and set the course for the business’ future, adds Harvey.Rinkoffs then began to supply coffee shops and, for five years, it used to make around 40,000 muffins a week for Caffè Nero. “But this had to come to an end when Nero got to 200-plus stores, as our products were handmade and we couldn’t feasibly make enough,” explains Ray. The firm also gained contracts in the catering and hospitality sector, which now makes up a big part of its sales.Despite not having to battle with the supermarkets for survival on the high street, it has not all been easy. Commodity price rises have hit the business hard and it has been forced to streamline its operations and make cutbacks where it can. Derek says it is not willing to compromise and buy cheaper ingredients, because its products are supplied to high-end establishments. It likes to buy English ingredients where it can, to cut down on food miles for example sourcing its flour from Shipton Mill in the Cotswolds. “We like to buy from a small mill because we like to support those kinds of businesses, and they look after us well,” says Derek. And as the products are handmade from scratch you can only cut staffing to a certain level, as “we need their hands”. This just leaves the difficult option of trying to pass the cost increases on down the line something the bakery is hesitant to do, as Derek says there is always going to be someone else who will offer to do it for less. But he admits they will have to put up their prices at some point, to stay in business.Ray says Jennifer, the newest family member to join, around four years ago, has helped to bring the business into the 21st century, as head of customer relations and marketing. She has set up a Facebook fan page for the bakery, and has a presence on Twitter. She also gets involved in the bakery on the NPD side and was the family member behind its move into cupcakes, which it now sells a great deal of, even supplying Google. Jennifer also came up with the idea of having a comments book in the Vallance Road shop, which opened in 1976. This was the first all-night bagel shop, says Ray, and was revamped around six years ago, staying true to its original aesthetics and ambience. Despite the fact the shop is now more of a café/coffee shop, one recent comment in the book was from a man who said he went in for a bagel, and came out with a wife. In fact, says Ray, there have been three marriages from that shop.The unit, which sells its range of breads including its famous Chola bread, Danishes and cheesecake features memorabilia on the walls and a mural of Hyman Rinkoff painted on the outside of the building. The café is also located on the street where the Kray twins used to live and, when they were in jail, one of their friends used to come in every Friday to pick up six smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels to take to the prison for them.Derek says the location of the business has been one of the key factors in its success. “We’re five minutes from The City and five minutes from Canary Wharf, which allows us to give a really good service, and is what we’ve built our name on. For example, a guy from Barclays rang up and had forgotten four loaves speciality breads but we had them at the bakery, so I could just run them up there.”Continental focusAlthough it has moved away from just being a Jewish bakery, now offering items such as sourdough breads and cupcakes, the bakery still offers a very continental range of products. As well as its range of Jewish Chola breads, it makes products such as a black rye bread, which is very popular, says Derek. Snack-packs of its products, which it started producing six months ago, are its most recent innovation.As part of its centenary promotions, the bakery changed the labelling on its products to include the strapline: ’100 years of family baking’.Rinkoffs certainly appears to have successfully combined its Jewish heritage with Whitechapel’s multicultural consumer demographic and, as Derek says, it is looking forward to the next 100 years. Vital Statistics Business name: Rinkoffs BakeryLocation: Whitechapel, LondonWhen was it set up: 1911Type of business: Wholesale and retail 95%/5% splitFamous for: Danish pastries, Chola bread, bagels and cheesecake