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Ministry of Cake ploughs through growth target

first_imgCake and desserts manufacturer Ministry of Cake has smashed its targets one year after becoming independent as it achieves 25% growth year-on-year. Managing director Chris Ormrod sold the Taunton-based business to convenience food producer Greencore in 2008 and last year bought it back, before opening a second site named Ministry of Pudding in Torquay in October.He told British Baker the business was in 25% growth year-on-year.“I think we will see similar growth this year,” he said. “We are looking at new contracts and have [recently] won a new contract.“I think we will be nearer £30m this year and mid-30s next year – we had expected to be closer to £25m this year. We thought that, over a four-year period, we’d get to £30m – we didn’t expect it to happen in one.”The business now employs around 285 people, which has risen from 220 a year ago.Market is recoveringOrmrod explained the company’s success: “We have good NPD, a good commercial team and strong customers. I think the market is coming back up and there are more people eating out. We are seeing some quite interesting growth in key customer areas, such as coffee shops. We took a big decision a year ago to invest heavily in NPD – probably more than the industry average – and that is showing now.”The business has also done more in Europe than before and is still considering the viability of exporting or investing in a base overseas. It regularly gets business enquiries from Europe, with customers coming from countries including Russia, Spain, France and the Netherlands.“The worry is that we might end up growing too fast and I want to make sure we grow at the speed we can manage.“We are actively looking at other businesses we might want to acquire going forward. There are lots of small bakery businesses that are at the stage where they are not going to grow any further, which we might be able to help them with.”Ministry of Cake and Ministry of Pudding have several major customers and covers most of the major chains in the UK.last_img read more

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Flea-eating Nematodes

first_imgBig bugs eat little bugs. And sometimes it works the other way around. That’s how thefood chain works. So why not set the table for natural enemies to feed on your problemyard and garden insects? The notion is translating into some exciting — and unusual — products for sale. “Defenders of the garden, they call them,” said Maxcy Nolan, an entomologist with theUniversity of Georgia Extension Service. Certain weevils, nematodes, ladybugs and other creatures prey on other insects andplants. The idea is to release them into your yard or garden to control weeds, fleas,beetles, grubs and other pests. And research is showing that in many cases, they work. One new control method is to spread nematodes on your lawn to control fleas. Nolaninvestigated the claims. “I don’t know how available it is here,” he said. “But you can apply nematodes to youryard and they are effective against flea larvae. Many insects in some stage of their lifecycle are affected by some nematode.” But not just any nematode will do. Parasitic nematodes can control Japanese beetlegrubs, weevils, borers and flea larvae. You can order them in packages of 10 million. “They’re fairly expensive,” Nolan said. “But for people who want to go this route, costdoesn’t seem to bother them.” The key is to apply the nematodes when the ground is moist and warm. The best timeis May or June, Nolan said. Check with your local garden center or a mail-ordercatalog to order parasitic nematodes or other beneficial insects. “They’re getting more and more widely available,” he said. The scientific work that supports these claims has only been completed in the past fewyears. But it does show that “the right nematodes applied properly will control flealarvae,” Nolan said. Flea-eating nematodes are just one example. To learn more about this natural process,scientists are studying the tiniest links in the food chain throughout the world. They’relooking for ways to rely more on nature and less on pesticides. Since different geographic areas nurture various species of plants, insects and animals,researchers are finding some unusual natural controls. Some people fear releasing insects to control one problem may create another. Forinstance, some forms of nematodes attack field crops every year, forcing costlychemical controls. But Nolan said research doesn’t support that fear when using theproper one. “When you artificially produce a living organism to be used against another livingorganism, it cannot perpetuate itself,” he said. “You can use it in a given environment.But as soon as it destroys or consumes the other organism, if it doesn’t have any morefood, it dies.” Some argue that using natural controls is messing with the natural order. But Nolansaid it’s just speeding it up. “Even though Mother Nature has checks and balances, sometimes things get completelyout of hand before she applies her check for balance,” Nolan said. “People can’t alwayswait that long.”last_img read more

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