Take a passion for food, stir in a desire for indulgent treats to fit a vegan lifestyle and top it off with a concern to cater for those affected by food allergies and you have the recipe for the success of London-based Heavenly Cakes.Husband-and-wife team Nzila and Luzolo Ntima have developed a range of homemade vegan cakes, which are free from eggs, dairy, wheat, soya, GM ingredients and nuts. Their products, which all contain coconut oil, include gluten-free cakes for the growing number of coeliacs in the UK and sugar-free cakes made with agave nectar as a diabetic-friendly alternative.Luzolo, who has produced cakes and cookies for several years using organic wholemeal spelt flour from Doves Farm Foods, says: “When I changed to a mainly vegan diet and was diagnosed with wheat intolerance, I found it impossible to eat cakes at all. I eventually adapted and perfected my cake recipes so I could enjoy them with friends and family.”Given that diagnoses of food intolerance are growing, the potential market is huge and Heavenly Cakes has enjoyed a recent surge in sales, largely through word-of-mouth marketing in the vegan, vegetarian and free-from communities and at farmers’ markets. “Customer comments at farmers’ markets have inspired some recent recipes such as the coffee cake,” Luzolo says.Nzila adds: “Taste is first and foremost. So many people are deterred from eating free-from or vegan foods because of an unfounded preconception or previous bad experience with the taste or texture of a product. We want to reintroduce more and more people to these indulgent treats.” n—-=== Going it alone ===Products: A range of cakes including chocolate, carrot, chocolate-orange, lemon and pumpkin seed, hemp, ginger, banana, vanilla, coconut, fruit and brandy and coffee. Other products include creme dessert, dreamily creamily chilled cream replacement and oat and spelt cookiesFinance: self-financingCustomers: Foodies at farmers’ markets in south-east London, and at Innocent’s Village FeteDistribution: Selected health food stores including leading herbalist G Baldwin and Co as well as trendy food venues such as Green and Blue in East Dulwich and Blue Mountain Cafe in SydenhamBackground: Luzolo was previously a training consultant supplying for trading firms in the City. He gradually scaled down that company as Heavenly Cakes grewProspects for growth: Wheat-free products, like Heavenly Cakes, grew by almost 120% between 2002 and 2005 to £48m, according to Mintel, while dairy-free is up 28% to £32m[http://www.heavenlycakes4u.co.uk]—-=== The pros and cons ===Biggest Challenge: Luzolo: The biggest challenge was actually creating the first recipe. To make a delicious and moist cake with no eggs or dairy is extremely difficult. Then people requested wheat-/gluten-free cakes and ’diabetic friendly’ cakes. Making those cakes while sticking to our ethos was not easy – but we did it!Greatest satisfaction: Luzolo: It is so satisfying to be able to provide cakes for people who usually cannot eat cakes and to see people taste our cakes and fall in love with them, whether or not they have any special dietary requirements. Children with allergies who go to birthday parties usually cannot have any cake – but some of our customers now freeze cake slices, so that their children can take their own cakes with them.
California RaisinsThe raisin market has changed dramatically over the past 12 months and, in line with most other food commodities, prices have increased. Raisin and sultana supplies from Eastern Mediterranean suppliers were affected by the 2007 drought, which in turn reduced European supplies significantly. This led to dried vine fruit shortages early in 2008. As a result, and in line with the laws of supply and demand, raisin and sultana prices saw increases throughout 2008 – in some cases by as much as 50%. As the world’s largest per capita user of dried vine fruit buyers in the UK began to look at other origins. There are 21 different varieties of raisins available in the UK market, from nine different origins, so competition is strong.Price changes have forced buyers to look at other origins, notably California and parts of South America. But, like wine grapes, not all raisins taste the same; growing practices, soil and weather all play a part in the final product. Buyers are looking for consistency of supply, size, quality and taste. Largely due to these reasons, California has enjoyed a significant uplift in sales to Europe.Despite rising costs, demand for raisins and dried vine fruit has steadily increased by approximately 7% year-on-year since 2003. The UK is still the largest market per capita for dried vine fruit, importing around 113,000mt last year.
Ian Dobbie has resigned from his position as managing director at British Bakels after accepting an offer to return to his role as managing director of Délifrance UK.The management team at British Bakels said “the company is sorry to lose Ian, but recognises the opportunity presented by the new company and fully understands his decision to take it”.Dobbie said he was looking forward to the challenges ahead in his new role, which begins Monday 26 January.Dobbie had left Délifrance UK in October 2008 to take up the position of MD at Bakels UK.
Costa Coffee’s sales have continued to increase, but meal deals may soon be on the menu as like-for-like growth slows. The company has said it will be developing its food offering with, for example, lunchtime meal deals such as a panini and a cappuccino for £4.95.It will also continue to capitalise on independent research carried out earlier in the year, which revealed that seven out of 10 people prefered Costa cappuccinos to its competitors, with “an aggressive marketing campaign” throughout the year. Total sales growth was up 22% to £263.8m according to parent company Whitbread’s premlininary results for the year to 26 February, 2009. However, like-for-growth rose at a slower rate of 2%, compared to 3.7% reported for the first half of the 2008/09 year. Operating profit stood at £22.7m – up 9.1%.The coffee chain has achieved net new openings of 296; 110 of which are overseas. As reported in British Baker last month, the chain plans to open another 100 outlets in the UK in 2009/10, and said it would focus on new locations, as well as areas where it could replace existing operators in, for example, supermarkets and hospitals.
By Max Jenvey of Oxxygen Marketing Partnership, a strategic management agency that focuses on business and brand development within the bakery, foodservice and convenience sectors.Everyone seems in such a rush these days, but thankfully the majority of bakery customers still enjoy a well-earned rest and a sit-down with their favourite drink and snack.Our colleagues at market researcher him! say the customers who like to eat-in form a very diverse group: the majority, 46%, are full-time workers, but there are also “at-home mums”, students, singles and child-free couples visiting cafés and enjoying a breakfast, lunch or snack.So how do we maximise sales opportunities within these groups? Simple: target full-time workers. him! tells us that only 10% of consumers actually prepare their lunch at home, so what are the other 90% looking for? Variety, quality and special offers and, if that’s not enough, they also want the old favourites, too. So think about a daily special sandwich or pastry and link it to a meal deal to increase your average spend, which will also satisfy consumers’ need for value. Speaking of value, ask your current suppliers for support with promotional material. With over 25% fewer customers visiting food outlets than before the recession, customer loyalty is increasingly important. On average an eat-in customer keeps going to his/her favourite food outlet for almost three years, says him!This said, there is every reason to enhance your customer’s loyalty with a loyalty card or reward scheme. Research shows that the accumulator buy 10 drinks and get the 11th free is one of the most valued reward schemes for your customers and a cost-effective way for you to easily implement a reward system. All you need is cards with your brand no bigger than a business card and a small stamp behind the till. You can easily link the accumulator system with your lunch or snack offer. him! tells us that almost 40% of customers visit a café or bakery for their lunch, so why not encourage that extra visit to your store by offering something on the third or fourth purchase?Finally, ask your customers what they want, why they keep coming back to your store and how could you improve their experience? Knowing what your customers think will help you get it right for their next visit.
Dublin-based Broderick’s looks set to be a new contender in the UK cake and snack bar market after it secured its first UK listing, which will see the brand stocked in 200 WH Smith stores.The Irish firm, part of Ina’s Kitchen Desserts, has also revealed a revamp of the Broderick’s brand as it looks to drive sales in the UK.The aim of the new-look bars is to help establish stronger positioning for the brand within the market, and to set it apart from its competitors.The cake and snack bar range includes handmade rocky road, chocolate brownies, handmade chocolate cranberry nut bars and yoghurt, mango and papaya bars, and will launch in WH Smith in August. The company revealed that there are also plans to introduce the brand into France, Denmark and Germany
Credit card borrowers looking to transfer debt to take advantage of lower interest charges elsewhere should brace themselves for rising transfer fees.Those with big debts are being advised to move fast to secure a good deal.Experts forecast that average transfer fees could rise from 3% to 5% next year. The rise is inevitable as card companies look to fill a hole in their revenues, resulting from new rules designed to make their offers more transparent.From next January, card issuers will no longer be able to insist that customers pay off their cheapest debts first, before clearing more expensive ones. At present, this causes problems for borrowers who move existing debts to 0% balance transfer cards, but then spend on the same card. New purchases are then charged at a higher interest rate and the interest continues to roll up until the borrower has paid off their balance transfer debt at the lower rate.
Peter’s Premier ’All Day Breakfast’ slice is a new product that aims to tempt on-the-go consumers.The full English breakfast in a slice can be served hot or cold, and fuses breakfast ingredients together in pastry: bacon, egg, sausage, beans and brown sauce (rsp: £1.39).James Osgood, marketing director for Peter’s Foods, said: “Consumers get excited by new ideas and inspiration and this new breakfast slice will further invigorate the snacking-on-the-go market and appeal to those looking for a freshly-baked twist on the traditional English breakfast any time, any place, anywhere.”With savoury slices continuing to experience year-on-year value and volume growth, our strategy is to bring ideas and creativity to the market, so that the category continues to evolve and excite retailers and consumers alike.”The firm has also launched the Premier Pepperoni Pizza Slice, a hand-held savoury slice containing spicy pepperoni, tomatoes, chilli, garlic and basil.
Sales were strong at Greggs over the Easter period as the bakery retailer announced like-for-like growth of 0.8% for the 18 weeks to 7 May 2011.The chain saw total sales growth for the period increase by 4.8%, helped by sales of three million hot cross buns – up 23% on last year.Its expansion across the UK has continued with 20 net new shops opened over the 18-week period, taking it past the 1,500 mark for the first time to its current total of 1,507 shops.In January this year Greggs announced it would be ramping up the speed of its expansion programme by a third this year, to 80 net new shops, after exceeding its target for new store openings in 2010.“The positive like-for-like sales performance compares with the increase of 0.4% reported for the first 10 weeks, reflecting good Easter trading and the favourable weather over the last four weeks,” commented chairman Derek Netherton.To date, Greggs has also completed 59 refits of its shops, including 13 concept outlets. >>Greggs high flier to feature in BBC’s The Apprentice
The Fabulous Bakin’ Boys were crowned Great British Bounce Back champions at the recent Foodex show.The manufacturer of muffins, cupcakes, flapjacks and cake slices, was voted the winner by visitors to the show, at Birmingham’s NEC, which aimed to find the business that had made the greatest investment in the future of the food and drink industry.In its entry, the firm said that innovation was at the heart of everything it does. “Last year we launched the world’s first one portion of fruit bakery snack, this year we launched the first ever range of individually wrapped mini cupcakes and muffins after a £3M investment in a fully automated packing line,” it said.In December last year British Baker reported that The Fabulous Bakin’ Boys were looking to double the size of the business by 2015 and increase its workforce by 25% in the next year.Artisan Bread Organic, Pieminister and Brook Food Processing Equipment were among those shortlisted for the title of champion.The Great British Bounce Back, is an initiative from William Reed Business Media – publisher of British Baker – to showcase best practice across the food and drink industry, with recognition for those going the extra mile to invest in its future.Any company involved in UK food manufacturing, processing and logistics was eligible to enter, whether they were a primary producer, processor or supplier. The shortlisted competition entries were announced in the week leading up to Foodex, and were then showcased at the event. Visitors to the show were asked to vote for the entry they thought demonstrated the greatest investment in the future of the food and drink industry, with the winner to be profiled in British Baker’s sister title Food Manufacture.