Colin Lomax

Colin Lomax

Happy new year – and what was all the fuss about? I hope everyone had a successful Christmas and new year, both personally and in business. We can now do it all again for 2018.

Compared to previous years the weather was kinder in the UK and worldwide, however costs have continued to rise and trading conditions remain difficult. Market conditions are constantly changing and the growing demand for more variety and healthier baked goods is still of prime importance. Our industry responded very well to reducing salt in bread, but demands to reduce sugar in products is much more difficult; not from a technical point of view but sweet products are an indulgence that customers want from time to time. The sugar tax announced in the 2016 budget is not a tax on all sugar as lots of consumers and manufactures thought it was. The levy directly targets the producers of soft drinks to encourage them to remove added sugar. There are no plans currently to introduce similar levies or expand this to confectionery.

It was good to see some bakers taking advantage of Black Friday and the big increase in Halloween-themed products. I wasn’t too sure about Morrisons, though, who launched a super strength garlic bread for Halloween. Available on the pizza counter, three types of concentrated garlic were used. Customers were recommended to eat green apples, fresh mint and parsley afterwards to overcome the lingering garlic bread flavour – and also no kissing was recommended.

I have been saying that all bread is good bread for years, and I was pleased to read some research that that cheap white loaves are just as good for you as wholewheat sourdough. Research carried out at the Weizmann Institute in Israel analysed levels of nutrients in the blood of volunteers and looked at levels of healthy gut bacteria. A group of healthy volunteers were given white bread for a week, and after two weeks of no bread they were given Artisanal wholewheat sourdough for a week. For both types of bread the participants ate enough to provide 25% of their weekly calories. It found no difference in terms of health effects. It was great to hear this, and matching up the right bread for the eating occasion allows us to enjoy all different kinds of bread and have no great preference.

On another visit to my favourite part of the country, I was recent sitting in Warrens Bakery in Redruth and of course enjoying a real Cornish pasty. I read, ‘Is yours a cock or hen? All our pasties are still hand crimped by our team of 20 qualified crimpers’. Three are of the staff there are left-handed, in that they make what are known as cock pasties, which are obviously much rarer than the more common right-handed ones known as hens. You learn something new every day. Although it is probably well known it was news for me, and I spent the next few days looking for the cock pasties in Warrens Shop windows.

What can we do different in 2018? Looking around the supermarket I was surprised at the number of different sausages available in all kinds of food combinations. We could easily extend our sausage rolls range to add some variety and innovation and develop extra sales of a fairly standard and popular product.|

Once again my new year’s resolution not to drink alcohol in January has already gone by the wayside, not because of the lack of will power or inner strength but because of the thought of being unsociable with my golfing friends on the 19th hole. Once again, happy new year!