Double celebration for the School of Artisan Food

The UK’s award-winning School of Artisan Food, based in Nottinghamshire, is hosting its annual advanced diploma graduation ceremony in the same week as the School celebrates its fifth birthday.

The Advanced Diploma class of 2014 completed the course in July and all will graduate, with many already employed in artisan bakeries or setting-up their own business.

Since the School opened in October, 2009 there have been over 5,500 students through the doors. Traditional skills of baking, cheese making and butchery lie at the heart of the School’s teaching with additional skills such as chocolate making, business skills and brewing also being taught.

Joe Piliero, Director at The School of Artisan Food says: “When we initially set-up five years ago our aim was to deliver high quality training across a range of food skills which are in danger of being lost. We’re now in the position where we’ve not only passed those skills onto thousands of people but some of those are now leading a growing, artisan food industry.”

Sandie Tomlinson, one of the School’s graduates says: “The experience I gained was invaluable and definitely helped build my confidence in my practical skills as well as clarifying the realities of running a bakery as a business.”

The latest group of Advanced Diploma Graduates will be presented with their Diploma certificates on Thursday 16th October.

Macfrut Innovation Oscars awarded

The latest innovations in the fruit and vegetable supply chain were honoured at the Macfrut Innovation Oscars, presented on the final day of the popular exhibition.

The winner in the packaging category weas the multi-variety Christmas package realised by the VOG Consortium for Marlene apples. The prize in the machineries and sorting-packaging technologies category went to Turatti with its strawberry capper Frazer model, while Gaiago was voted the best in the logistics and services category with its Soleil’ Meilleur. The winner in the seeds and fruit and vegetables category is San Lidano with Orti Laziali. Visitors to the show chose Ortoromi with its Insal’Arte as their special winner.

Macfrut hosted an increased number of visitors and exhibitors in 2014, and is now working on the new project that is being developed for Macfrut International 2015.

At the event, Domenico Scarpellini, President of Cesena Fiera, announced that this show will be the last one under his management. He said, “Working at Macfrut has been a deeply rewarding experience, both at the professional and at the personal level. I wish to thank all my colleagues of the board of directors, as well as all employees. One of our goals has always been to make Macfrut as efficient and well-functioning as possible - it was a joint enterprise, to which we all contributed. I want to express all my wishes to my expected successor."

Adnams Ghost Ship is nation’s best independent beer in a can

Adnams Ghost Ship was awarded the title ‘best independent beer in a can’ at the Indie Beer Can Festival. Second and third place in the world first competition, sponsored by the Can Makers in partnership with the Society of Independent Brewers, went to 13 Guns from Thwaites and Breakfast Stout from Arbor Ales respectively.

The winning beer is a citrusy Pale Ale brewed using Citra hops. The judging team praised its luscious notes of tropical fruit, beautifully balanced malts, and sparkling amber appearance.

Emma Hibbert, Marketing Director at Adnams, says, “We are overjoyed to have been recognised by such a prestigious panel of judges. Ghost Ship has been a real success story for Adnams. Times are good for canned beer, with more and more premium beer brands choosing the format.”

Chiara Nesbitt, one of the five independent judges and Beer Buyer for Tesco, says, “The competition was very tight but Adnams Ghost Ship clearly stood out from the others. We felt this beer had the widest appeal of the finalists and all agreed it was a joy to drink and suited the canned format perfectly. All twelve finalists are great examples of how independent beers look and taste great in cans.”

Graham Fenton, Chairman of the Can Makers, says, “It has been a privilege to sample such a great range of beers and to select our fantastic winner. It’s also been gratifying to see how successfully Indie Beer Can Festival has tapped into the rapidly growing trend for independent beers in cans. Cans are convenient, light, quickly chilled and they look great. In America canned independent beers are the height of cool, it won’t be long before the same can be said in the UK.”

Speciality food is boosted by finest fair to date

Organisers hailed it the 'best Fair ever' - the doors of the 15th edition of Speciality & Fine Food Fair burst open with a record-breaking 12,410 attendees. With more trade stands, visitors, buyers and exhibitors - the Fair was bigger than ever before, with a vibrant atmosphere. Buyers, wholesalers, chefs and business owners flocked through the doors to see the latest products at SFFF14 - and to meet the passionate producers behind the brands.

There were columns constructed of salt, giant chocolate saxophones, fennel and lemon popcorn, beetroot ketchup, strawberry and mint cordial, lobster bisque chocolates and cocktail infused jellies. The product innovation was astounding.

Olympia Grand came alive with the unveiling of the Giant Chocolate Saxophone on the opening morning of the Fair. Jean-Marie Dessard and Philippe Wall were two of the men responsible for bringing a 10ft tall chocolate saxophone to launch the exhibition in chocolatey style. The chocolate saxophone was located in Speciality Chocolate Fair, one of the dedicated sections of the Fair, another being the Small Producer Village – an area for brand new companies.

There were several live cooking demo theatres including Speciality Chocolate Live, the Fine Food Forum as well as the Small Business Forum - a stage for industry experts to give advice to the entrepreneurial and business-owner audience. The Business Mentoring Centre was where industry experts offered free one-to-one business advice to visitors. The Fine Food Forum and Speciality Chocolate Live theatres saw a jam-packed schedule of seminars, talks and demonstrations from some of the UK’s leading chefs and chocolatiers. Paul A Young talked on ‘Tempering to Filling’ chocolate and Andrew Gravett demonstrated ‘Valrhona Tarts’.

Another highlight of the Fair is always the showcasing of the Great Taste Supreme Champion on the final day. This year the highest of these prestigious awards was topped by Raspberry Sorbetto produced by Snowflake Luxury Gelato.

The Fair closed after three days as the busiest Speciality & Fine Food Fair to date. There have been a record number of re-bookings by exhibitors for the 2015 Fair which highlights the positive mood throughout. The last few hours were a busy time for the Fresh Montgomery Fair team who were busy packing up product from the show floor, kindly donated by exhibitors - one transit van of speciality food was donated to local foodbanks for the Trussell Trust. The Trussell Trust runs the UK’s largest network of foodbanks, providing nutritionally-balanced emergency food and support to people in need. The Trussell Trust foodbanks supported over 900,000 people with emergency food parcels in 2013/14, of which over 300,000 were children.

Soraya Gadelrab, Event Director, says, “It is fantastic to see how exciting the UK speciality food industry is in 2014 and this is very much reflected in the growth of the Fair. This is the largest event we’ve hosted in our fifteen year history showcasing around 750 fine food suppliers to over 12,410 chefs and retailers. The fine food industry here in the UK is vibrant and consumers are clearly demanding more choice in their food selection. Speciality & Fine Food Fair is where new concepts and producers fuse with buyers - forming the starting point of ideas that will flow out into the high street and to become the next big thing.”

The next Speciality & Fine Fair is on 6th to 8th September at its new venue of The National Hall, Olympia.

Raspberry Sorbetto is Great Taste Champion

Raspberry Sorbetto made by Snowflake Luxury Gelato, has been declared the Great Taste Supreme Champion 2014.

Out of ten thousand products entered into Great Taste 2014, the Raspberry Sorbetto took the highest accolade at the Great Taste Golden Forks Dinner, where over three hundred guests from the world of fine food gathered to hear the result which catapults Snowflake Luxury Gelato into the culinary spotlight.

John Farrand, MD of the Guild of Fine Food, organisers of Great Taste, says, “This year’s Great Taste, our twentieth year of the competition, was the biggest with more entries than ever before. As always, our judges had the task of finding the most exquisite food by blind tasting and conferring over each individual entry. We know that the Great Taste logo is an established and trusted mark - for producers it reflects their hard work and commitment to making superb tasting food and drink, and for consumers it is a recognisable, simple and clear logo that confirms they are buying the most outstanding products on the shelf."

Snowflake’s Raspberry Sorbetto has been blind-tasted and judged as one of the Top 50 Foods by a host of expert food judges, including the Head of Food at Harrods, sponsors of the Great Taste Supreme Champion award, and many other buyers from the most prestigious food stores in London and throughout the UK.

The Raspberry Sorbetto, which is fat-free, dairy-free, gluten free and suitable for vegetarians and vegans, was described by Karen Barnes, one of the Great Taste judges, as having “the flavour of the fruit, the leaf, the entire bush” and another judge as “like a walk through a pick-your-own field” and yet another judge exclaimed the Sorbetto as “giving a raspberry rush to the head”.

Made by hand using artisan skills, Snowflake Luxury Gelato’s Gelataio (gelato chef) makes Sorbetto and Gelato each day and uses seasonal fruits to make recipes including the Raspberry Sorbetto. With three London ‘gelato boutiques’, one in Westbourne Grove, Bayswater, one in Wardour Street, Soho and a concession at Harvey Nichols, Snowflake Luxury Gelato is an example of traditional Italian artisan skill combined with a chic, innovative and contemporary approach to speciality food.

Bigger and better for GO*DO

Organic Italian chocolate brand GO*DO has unveiled a striking new range of 85g bars to complement its existing 35g six flavour offering. The new 85g bars will be available in Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa solids), Milk Chocolate and White Chocolate flavours.

Alongside the 35g range, which also includes Dark Chocolate with Almond, Dark Chocolate with Coffee and Milk Chocolate with Hazelnut flavours, the bars feature enhanced recipes and attractive new product packaging, emphasising GO*DO’s ‘bean to bar’ ethos.

GO*DO's Simon Wright says, “While GO*DO’s 35g range has proven to be incredibly popular, consumers have demanded their chocolate in a larger format, and GO*DO has delivered in the brand’s three most popular flavours, at a price point to suit even the reluctant of impulse purchasers.”

The launch will be supported with a UK PR and marketing campaign across the print, broadcast and digital space.

GO*DO Organic Chocolate was created by a family of Italian chocolatiers, who have been creating blends of the finest organic chocolate for more than three generations. Now operating from state-of-the-art premises near Milan, the GO*DO team has total control over the manufacturing process from bean to bar, from farming the cocoa and harvesting the beans through to creating the chocolate.

GO*DO chocolate is available in Whole Foods and Planet Organic stores, and all good health food retailers throughout the UK, with an RRP of 89p for the 35g bars, and £1.89 for the new 85g bars.

Three fruit snacks added to Nothing But Freeze Dried range

Three fruit snacks have been added to the Nothing But freeze dried snack range – with a single packet providing a convenient and easy way for people to eat one of their “5 A Day” fruit or vegetable portions. The new snacks launched by The Premium Snack Company are strawberry & banana, pineapple & grape, and apple & fig.

WinNaturally became the first retailer to stock the new snacks when the company opened a new flagship store in Manchester’s Arndale Centre. Nothing But snack tastings were provided for the hundreds of people who came to the store’s launch.

David Street of The Premium Snack Company says, “We originally launched Nothing But with three vegetable snacks and have had very positive customer feedback. We have now widened the appeal of the range by adding the new fruit snacks. For example, many children don’t like vegetables but are happy to have fruit, so the Nothing But fruit snacks will be a novel way for them to have one of their 5 a day.

“These snacks contain no added salt, sugar, fat, or preservatives so they will appeal to people who are looking for healthy alternative snacks containing 100% natural ingredients. They are also low in calories compared to more traditional snacks. With the Nothing But range, you get nothing but real vegetables and fruit, and because they have been freeze dried they maintain their taste, colour and appearance throughout their shelf life."

Whisky firm eyes expansion with support from Clydesdale Bank

Independent Scotch whisky firm JG Distillers is targeting increased growth with support from Clydesdale Bank.

The whisky blender, bottler and exporter, which trades through its wholly owned subsidiary Campbell Meyer and Co, Ltd is investing in new stock after obtaining significant funding from Clydesdale Bank’s West of Scotland Business and Private Banking Centre in Glasgow. The bespoke package includes a revolving credit facility together with general day to day banking support.

Founded in 1991 by Colin Barclay the JG Distillers Group employs 40 staff at its bonded warehouse facility in East Kilbride. The business exports a range of single malt, blended malt and blended Scotch whisky to over 40 overseas markets, including its best-selling blended Scotch whisky brands Barclays, Highland Chief and McIvor. It also supplies a range of Hart Brothers single malts featuring whisky from some of Scotland’s most acclaimed distilleries including world famous Islay distillery Ardbeg.

According to figures published by the Scotch Whisky Association in April of this year, Scotch whisky exports increased by 3% last year and were worth £4.3bn to the UK economy. The fastest growing markets were the US, India and Brazil.

Gerry McSherry, group managing director, says: “Scotch whisky continues to be one of the UK’s major export success stories, accounting for 85% of Scottish food and drink exports and nearly a quarter of the British total.”

“As demand continues to grow overseas we aim to develop new markets and expand within existing markets. Campbell Meyer is currently seeing strongest demand in the US, the Middle East and Latin America, but we supply to many more markets around the world.

“Maintaining our maturing stock portfolio is crucial to building on our success. We are delighted that Clydesdale Bank’s knowledgeable team took time to fully understand the very specific dynamics of our business and tailored a bespoke funding package that will support our growth ambitions over the years to come. The revolving credit facility gives the group medium term funding which marries well with the aging process and forward commitments required to maintain and grow our inventory.”

Neil Berry, West of Scotland Business Development Manager at Clydesdale Bank, said: “We are proud to support JG Distillers Ltd, a thriving, independent Scotch whisky group supplying blended whiskies and malts from its bonded warehouse in East Kilbride to countries all over the world.

“The company’s success is a testament to the experience, drive and expertise shown by Gerry and his team. With a track record of growing exports in key markets such as the US they are in a fantastic position to expand and develop new markets.

“We look forward to working in partnership with JG Distillers and helping the group to achieve their substantial growth plans.”

Brand new ultra-clean cookstove technology due to launch in Europe

A British family-run start-up is seeking crowdfunding in order to launch brand new eco-technology in the UK and European market.

Fresh from a successful launch in Africa, the Biomass Cookstove is a smokeless cooking contraption, ideal for busy domestic kitchens through to outdoor camping trips, festivals and impromptu barbeques. The device has roots grounded not only in sustainable cooking technology, generating electricity from heat energy which can power a lamp or charge a mobile phone, but was also contrived in order to solve the problems of carbon poisoning, which claims lives widely throughout Africa, where cooking on open flames is a way of everyday life.

A family-run start-up, based in the UK, is looking to introduce its brand new eco-cooking technology to the UK and Europe, after successfully launching the product across Africa in order to provide a clean, cheap and sustainable way to cook without requiring a power hook-up or an expensive fuel supply.

African Clean Energy, the British family-owned start-up which engineered the technology and developed the product, is looking to bring the ACE 1 Ultra-Clean Biomass Cookstove to the UK audience as a top-end cooking facility, available for both indoor and outdoor use without any worries about smoke, fuel costs or the negative environmental effects.

Throughout Africa, the product also gained popularity as a means of cooking without the risk of smoke inhalation, a common problem which kills four million people every year, equating to one person every eight seconds. In addition to a life-or-death health solution, the Biomass Cookstove presents a solution for the problems posed by open stove cooking for the environment; a year of cooking on an open fire is the equivalent of driving a large SUV vehicle. When considering the scale of open fire cooking in the third world, this problem becomes very real.

Two thirds of sub-Saharan Africa also has no modern energy, so any new cooking technology intending to address the problems of the region is required to function independently and sustainably, in a cheap and efficient manner with safety at the forefront of the design. Many poor families in the region spend up to 25% of their income purely on fuel, with women and children bearing the brunt of sourcing the fuel, often taking up to three hours of their day.

Siblings Judith and Ruben Walker saw an opportunity to develop a stove which would create an accessible and clean solution for these problems, by burning biomass. Anything from sticks and cow dung to specially designed biomass pellets would be considered a compatible fuel source, and the heat would be strong and effective. Not only this, the heat energy would also convert the Cookstove itself into a source of electrical power.

Not only has this revolutionised cooking throughout the sub-African continent, the opportunity to bring the Biomass Cookstove to the UK has now arisen. With a sleek and modern contemporary design, the stove can be used indoors or outdoors, in public areas such as festivals or on patios for effortlessly smoke-free barbeques.

In order to fund this expansion, Judith and Ruben are set to launch the venture on Kickstarter, the popular crowdfunding platform, on 1st September.

Judith says: "Initially, we put all of our time and effort into working out exactly how we could develop this technology which would really apply to everyday use for people in sub Saharan Africa. We didn’t want to come up with a short term fix; we wanted to create something that would trigger change for these people and make an honest difference to help them break the cycle of poverty. We’re proud to have found an outcome that means we aren’t asking people to change their own culture or lifestyle, just creating an option that removes the damage being caused now.”

She continues: “What we have subsequently realised is that we have actually got some great technology here which doesn’t just have to be limited to those in poverty in Africa. It can work over here in the UK; there’s world-wide appeal for a cool, sleek, eco-cooking gadget which means you don’t have to spend the summer coughing over a smoky barbeque. You can even plug in your phone charger or lamp at the same time!

"It’s ideal for camping, festivals or even just as a spare cooking appliance to keep around the house. We feel that there’s definitely a huge potential to bring it back to the UK and let the British market enjoy it! We just hope we can get some great investors on board, as that is what will make or break this new venture and give us a chance to really get this off the ground.”

First truly crispy oven snacks come to market

Crisp Sensation Holding, owner of a worldwide patented food coating system, announces its licensee Royaan has launched the first products made with its breakthrough crumb coating. The Dutch manufacturer of snack products has introduced a comprehensive range of oven snacks under the brand name Kwekkeboom.

All products in the range, from the meat croquettes to the cheese dippers, use the patented Crisp Sensation technology and are characterised by outstanding crispiness that matches deep-fry coatings and is unparalleled by other oven baked snacks. Initially, the products will open up new possibilities for the food service industry before being made available to consumers via retail stores.

Kwekkeboom is a leading brand of premium crumb coated snacks in the Netherlands. The range comprises beef croquettes, typically Dutch “bitterballen”, cheese dippers and chicken nuggets – the latter in pure chicken or with added Italian, Saté or Curry fillings. Thanks to the innovative Crisp Sensation technology, the products score with a superior crumb and a core that remains juicy and tender. The special coating process also makes sure that there is no breaking or leaking of the contents during cooking.

First to recognise these advantages was the airline Corendon, which has been serving Kwekkeboom meat croquets during flights for almost two months. Until now it has been impossible for cabin crew to prepare snacks with a crunchy crust comparable to fried products thousands of feet up in the air. Now, the Crisp Sensation technology has made it possible for passengers to enjoy high quality, warm and tasty in-flight snacks.

Besides superior crispiness, the Crisp Sensation technology brings further advantages - once reheated, the products remain crispy and juicy for up to three hours in regular holding units. These benefits open obvious doors for caterers, airlines, gastronomy, petrol stations and cinemas. With their easy preparation and ability to be kept warm for hours without loss of quality, periods of high and low demand can be handled equally easily. Crisp Sensation snacks also have significantly less fat. This health benefit is due to the lower fat uptake of the patented crust and to the oven preparation, which means that Crisp Sensation snacks do not need to be fried twice. With its worldwide patented technology, Crisp Sensation allows manufacturers to produce a wide variety of products for preparation in a diverse range of ways.

As with Royaan, Crisp Sensation Holding offers its technology to all of its licensees as part of a long-term partnership that includes expert support in product development and implementation. Whether it’s food service or retail products, Crisp Sensation technology offers manufacturers an easy way to target new markets with products of convincing quality, easy preparation and excellent margins. According to Gerrit Dreise, Commercial Director EMEA/Asia for Crisp Sensation Holding, several licensees are currently working on new product introductions worldwide.

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