Top of the tiers

first_imgMarket analysis Supermarket influence Prince Philip would probably be horrified, but Kate and William should take note. The old-fashioned British fruit cake has had its day when it comes to wedding celebrations, usurped by that all-conquering US import the cupcake.That’s the experience of Angie Townsend, owner of The Tiny Cake Company in North Yorkshire, who has been in business three years and has rarely had to reach for the dried fruit. “Nobody wants fruit cake for weddings any more, unless it’s using an old family recipe that has been passed down the generations. Generally, young brides want a small 4-6in cake topper on the top tier, with lots of cupcakes that are bespoke to their requirements in terms of colour and decoration,” she says. “We also have a lot of success with giant cupcakes. They’re something that are ’big’ in the US. We developed one called the Princess for a little girl’s birthday party and it looks so grand that we’re thinking of marketing it as a cake for Kate and Will’s wedding.” The new ideas of small celebration cake companies, such as Cupcakes to your Door and the Tiny Cake Co, are also starting to influence the kind of products seen on supermarket shelves, according to Hemming. “There has been a huge number of home-based cupcake and celebration cake companies setting up in recent years making quite elaborate celebration cakes, while people are baking more at home and becoming more ambitious thanks to TV programmes like the Great British Bake-off and Baking Made Easy. This is having an effect on the kinds of cakes you see in the supermarkets so there are more modelled figures being used to decorate stacked two-tier cake designs. You are even seeing companies such as Little Venice Cake Company launching more complex designs into the key retailers.”Angie Townsend says she is not worried by competition from the supermarkets. At Finsbury Foods, commercial development director Karen Smith says there has been an important shift towards more interesting cake shapes in the past year in an effort to add value to the category. Round cakes with printed sugar plaques of characters, such as Winnie the Pooh and Peppa Pig, have been redeveloped, so that the cakes are actually in the shape of the character.”Celebration value sales have suffered in the past couple of years [for several reasons].The average retail price has dropped, due to competitive price matching between the retailers. Value return on sales has declined on average by £2 over the last 18 months. There has also been an increase in promotional activity on own-label party lines and traybakes,” says Smith. “However, this decline is now slowing as more higher-value shaped cakes are entering the market. This will progress into the year ahead.” Cost concern Royal inspiration The cupcake role The dominance of cupcakes is backed up by Mike Wescomb, sales and marketing director at baking case supplier Chevler. “When it comes to the celebration cake market, cupcakes are increasingly playing a vital role. They are now used to help celebrate all sorts of special occasions, including weddings, christenings, birthdays, anniversaries and even important corporate events. For bakers to break into this market, which is currently dominated by small artisan and specialist producers, they should concentrate on the theme and decoration and then provide ’wow’ with a hidden extra. For example, adding fruit coulis to the centre of the cake.”Cupcakes are not the only small treats muscling into the wedding cake market. Towers of cake pops, macarons, whoopie pies and cake balls are also increasingly popular. The Tiny Cake Company recently created a tower of 200 sparkly cake pops for an exclusive Mayfair party during London Fashion Week. “There has been a huge shift to people wanting something small,” says Townsend. “Customers tend to have a budget and don’t want lots of wastage. Cake pops are great for putting into goody bags and they have an excellent shelf-life because they are coated in chocolate.”She adds: “Something else for the future are dessert tables. These are popular in Canada and the US where they decorate a table with a garden theme or all in pink with lots of little cakes. You see tiny cupcakes, cake pops and cheesecakes, so guests can have two or three rather than one big piece. Again, it’s about getting away from the single big cake.”The ’small is beautiful’ trend is also driving birthday cake sales at Great Yarmouth-based company Cupcakes To Your Door. “Customers are becoming increasingly aware of waste and cost, so our Cupcake Cake a six-inch cake surrounded by eight cupcakes is becoming the most favoured option,” says owner Gill Keeble. “This cake forms an impressive display and many customers have said it makes children’s parties much less messy, as each child can have their own individual cake. Party bags have become a very competitive area but my customers are cutting costs by putting the cupcakes into the party bags for the children to take home.”She adds the designs of homeware retailer Cath Kidston, such as polka dots, roses and clean, rich pastel colours, are becoming more popular in terms of decoration a style that has been picked up on by Chevler, which plans to launch a polka dot cupcake case range in early May.At icing and ingredients supplier Renshaw, Nicola Hemming, business development and technical sales manager, says jewels, feathers and deep colours are still big trends. “Cupcake towers for key celebrations are now a well established trend, not only do they help with portion control but they can also be easily personalised. In the US, there’s a similar trend for crispy cakes, made with chocolate or caramel blended with Rice Crispies to create stacked tiers of “crispie” mountains. It may take off in the UK.” The Royal wedding is just under two months away so interest in the cake is hotting up. The Times has launched a Royal Bake-off, encouraging readers to send in photos and recipes for a wedding cake “fit for a prince”, while the Wessex Salon Culinaire at the Hotel and Catering Show next month is hosting a competition for professionals to create a wedding cake suitable for the big day.Steve Howard, master confectioner at London’s largest independent cake-maker The Cake Store, has beaten them to it with a wedding cake ’suggestion’ on display in his shop window in Sydenham. Made up of five tiers, the cake has fine sugar piping and pure white sugar flowers. The couples’ initials are inscribed on sugar plaques. The Cake Store, has supplied the Queen’s garden parties and other Royal events with confectionery for 25 years. Value urgently needs to be added back to the category because cake makers are facing an almost ’perfect storm’ of rising sugar, flour and butter prices.”Continued high input costs for cake are still very real and dramatic,” says Smith. “To date we have managed input cost inflation by re-development of recipes, packaging and operating costs. We will continue to do everything sensible to manage this inflation but if we are not able to we will have to pass these costs on to the customer and therefore the consumer.”At ingredients company Puratos, marketing director Rupert Taylor says raw material prices are reaching such highs that larger manufacturers are starting to consider alternatives.”The big driver in the past year is people coming to us to see what we can do to help in terms of ingredients costs. For example, our Puraslim fat alternative has a better nutritional profile and makes a better standard of product. If you’re paying £1 a litre for oil, it will also bring down your raw material costs. A year ago that wouldn’t have been the case,” he says.Beyond costs, Taylor highlights clean label, reduced salt and single-origin chocolate as key trends in celebration cakes. “Many of the overall trends for the cake sector, such as making products with fewer ingredients or with sustainability in mind are also having an impact on the celebration cake market. Reduced salt is a common request, which is harder than you might think, because cakes require baking powder. Our Satin cake range has been redesigned to meet the FSA’s 2010 salt targets for example. I’m sure Fairtrade will also come in to celebration cakes soon.”A reduced-salt, Fairtrade wedding cake? Prince Philip would probably have something to say about that too. It’s a good job that smaller cake-makers are coming up with new ideas, because the celebration cake market is in need of inspiration, judging by the latest Kantar Worldpanel figures. Value sales of birthday cakes in the 52 weeks ending 24 January were down by 4.6% in the packaged cake aisle. Large licensed cakes fared even worse with sales down nearly 11%. This poor performance was offset slightly by an uplift in sales in the in-store bakery where value sales of whole cakes increased by 42%.The two largest players Greencore and Finsbury have reported a bounce-back in sales in recent months however. Greencore saw sales of ambient celebration cakes increase by 11.9% in 2010, while Finsbury said its cake division returned to growth last year following a decline in 2009, with growth of 2.5% year on year.last_img read more

Driving is more expensive than you think

first_img Tough days for MBTA Related Cheaper estimate for Boston rail link As president, Trump wants to rebuild America’s core; here are the likely smooth roads and potholes ahead Through the Bloomberg Harvard Initiative, student fellows help mayors to improve lives Storms revealed system’s problems, but also its import to area, analyst says; now comes the hunt for solutions Our crumbling infrastructure Faculty and staff save resources while setting an example for health and wellness A summer of service to cities The path to sustainable commuting If you think the cost of driving is borne only by individuals who own cars, you may want to think again.And you might be surprised just how pricey it is.A team of graduate students at the Harvard Kennedy School estimate that the annual price tag for maintaining Massachusetts’ car economy is roughly $64.1 billion, with more than half of that coming from public funds. While they didn’t perform an analysis for all the states, the group notes that the cost structure would be similar.“This is a huge number,” said the paper’s lead author, Stevie Olson, M.P.P. ’20. “It’s unexpected because the majority of drivers, citizens, consumers experience roads for free. You just drive out your parking lot, your driveway, and you’re on the road. No one’s charging you, but there’s all of these costs that are both public costs, indirect externalities that are also costs, and then private costs that people are incurring.”The paper, which the students wrote as part of an applied lab course, found that costs are diffused across a number of areas and involve things people don’t often consider. Beyond those for individual drivers, road maintenance, snow removal, and policing, there are less-obvious ones, such as those associated with added pollution, value of land set aside for parking lots, lost productivity from sitting in traffic, and various costs associated with injuries and deaths on the road.Using publicly available data, the authors put the annual public tab at $35.7 billion, which amounts to about $14,000 for every household in the state. Those that do own vehicles pony up an additional $12,000 on average in direct costs.The authors say their goal is to demonstrate the total costs of driving so that information can be used for comparison when held up against other types of transit investments, like bus, subway, and train systems.,“If you think about it as an equation, this is a variable that has not been in the conversation, and it’s something that should we be considering as we think about what is the best way to provide transportation options to the public,” said Linda Bilmes, the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at the Kennedy School.“We’re not trying to say that cars are bad or that we don’t need roads,” said Bilmes, who oversaw the study. “We’re just trying to say that if we think about the overall cost/benefit analyses around transportation when it comes to this conversation, not only is there a cost to the vehicle economy, but the cost is actually larger than we may have realized.”For example, “When we think about the cost of investing in public transportation, we tend to think about it as if the alternative is free, as if we are spending several billion on the North-South Rail Link [a project connecting the Massachusetts’s largest railroad stations] as opposed to not spending any money,” Bilmes added.The study was written as part of Bilmes’ “Greater Boston Applied Field Lab,” which provides students experiential learning opportunities working with state and local government. The lab takes on external clients who pose real-world questions relating to finance and operations. Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton ’01, M.P.A./M.B.A. ’11, suggested the study and helped connect the graduate students to officials in his district.“I asked for this study because we lead the country in bad traffic, and the best solution to that problem is building a reliable, regional, electrified rail system,” Moulton said in an email. “But, a lot of people point to the cost of a rail system as the excuse not to do it. They advocate for wider roads and other short-sighted fixes, but the truth is we pay massive amounts to subsidize car travel and don’t even know it. Professor Bilmes and her students finally put a price tag on driving.”In the paper, the students broke down the total costs into three buckets: direct budgetary costs, indirect social and economic costs (which include many of the more intangible costs), and private costs. The first two buckets make up the $35.7 billion the public pays and the third bucket is the additional $28.4 billion car owners foot. It accounts for driver expenses like gas, regular maintenance and repair, depreciation, and financing.To get these figures students worked with the mayor’s office from the city of Lynn to average what the city spends on roads over five years. They then used that data to estimate what the state’s other 351 municipalities spend. The team also went through the overall state budget and those of various agencies like the Department of Conservation and Recreation to calculate all the money going to roads. Students also spoke to a number of scholars and experts in the vehicle economy to determine the most reliable statistics to use in their calculating model for figures not in the budgets they looked at.The authors, some of whom have graduated, hope their model will be recreated in other states.“While the $64 billion cost applies to Massachusetts, the costs of the vehicle economy are similar across states,” Olson said. “The price tag for this infrastructure is big in every state, and you can imagine collectively as a nation that the total is huge. We can use the study to think about urban travel, such as in a metropolitan area, but we can also use it to start thinking about interstate travel. The study illuminates tradeoffs that we make when investing in transportation infrastructure, and, rather than think of roads as free, we need to realize that significant resources go into the operation of the motor vehicle economy.”“We need leaders in our state who look beyond the cars in front of us to make smart decisions about our transportation future,” Moulton said. “This study will help us do it.”The Greater Boston Applied Field Lab (MLD-412) operates with support from the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, a University-wide entity housed at the Harvard Kennedy School that was founded and funded by the Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport Charitable Foundation. Cost of tying together North and South stations could be under $4 billion, Kennedy School study says The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news.last_img read more

SBA proposes change in size standards for real estate, education industries

first_imgProposed rules published today for comment in The Federal Register by the US Small Business Administration would adjust the size definition of small businesses in 29 industries in one sub-industry in two broad categories of businesses, ranging from real estate and property management to colleges, junior colleges and universities. The proposed adjustments to size standards in 20 industries and one sub-industry in Sector 53 of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), ‘Real Estate and Rental and Leasing,’ and in nine industries in Sector 61, ‘Educational Services,’ reflect changes in marketplace conditions in those sectors.   In both sectors, the proposed changes are based on annual gross revenues.  The standards delineate how large a business can be and still qualify as small for federal government programs. The dollar limits refer to annual revenues averaged over three years.  As part of the ongoing comprehensive review of all size standards as required under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, the SBA is evaluating all industries in these sectors that have revenue-based size standards to determine whether the existing size standards should be adjusted.  The last overall review of size standards occurred more than 25 years ago.The proposed changes take into account the structural characteristics within individual industries, including average firm size, degree of competition, and federal government contracting trends.  This ensures that size definitions reflect current economic conditions within those industries.  An SBA White Paper entitled ‘Size Standards Methodology’ (Oct. 21, 2009) explains how SBA establishes, reviews and modifies its receipts-based and employee-based small business size standards.  It is available for viewing at is external). The upward revisions would allow some small businesses that are close to exceeding their current size standards to retain small business eligibility under the proposed higher size standards, and give federal agencies a larger selection of small businesses to choose from for small business procurement opportunities.  They also would allow more small businesses to qualify for SBA financial assistance.  SBA estimates that up to 13,000 more firms in Sector 53 and 1,500 more companies in Sector 61 will qualify for SBA assistance and other federal programs if the proposed revisions are adopted. Interested parties can submit comments on these proposed rules on or before January 17, 2012.  The SBA recommends that comments be submitted online at is external) or mailed to Khem R. Sharma, Chief, Size Standards Division, 409 3rd St., SW, Mail Code 6530, Washington, D.C.  20416.  The SBA will post all comments to is external) for public review.  The SBA does not accept comments submitted by email. For more information about SBA’s revisions to its small business size standards, click on ‘What’s New with Size Standards’ on SBA’s website at is external).The proposed rule would affect the following industries in NAICS Sector 53: NAICScodes   NAICS Industry titles   Current size standard ($ million)       Proposed size standard ($ million)     531110  Lessors of Residential Buildings and Dwellings  $7.0    $25.5  531120  Lessors of Nonresidential Buildings (except Miniwarehouses)     $7.0    $25.5  531190  Lessors of Other Real Estate Property   $7.0    $25.5  Except, Leasing of Building Space to Federal Government by Owners       $20.5   $35.5  531210  Offices of Real Estate Agents and Brokers       $2.0    $7.0   531311  Residential Property Managers   $2.0    $7.0   531312  Nonresidential Property Managers        $2.0    $7.0   531320  Offices of Real Estate Appraisers       $2.0    $7.0   531390  Other Activities Related to Real Estate $2.0    $7.0   532111  Passenger Car Rental    $25.5   $35.5  532112  Passenger Car Leasing   $25.5   $35.5  532120  Truck, Utility Trailer, and RV (Recreational Vehicle) Rental and Leasing        $25.5   $35.5  532210  Consumer Electronics and Appliances Rental      $7.0    $35.5  532220  Formal Wear and Costume Rental  $7.0    $19.0  532230  Video Tape and Disc Rental      $7.0    $25.5  532291  Home Health Equipment and Rental        $7.0    $30.0  532411  Commercial, Air, Rail, and Water, Transportation Equipment and Rental   $7.0    $30.0  532412  Construction, Mining and Forestry Machinery and Equipment Rental and Leasing    $12.5   $30.0  532420  Office Machinery and Equipment Rental and Leasing       $25.5   $30.0  532490  Other Commercial, and Industrial Machinery and Equipment Rental and Leasing     $7.0    $30.0  533110  Lessors of Nonfinancial Intangible Assets (except Copyrighted Works)    $7.0    $35.5  The proposed rule would affect the following industries in NAICS Sector 61: NAICS code       NAICS industry title    Current size standard ($ million)       Proposed size standard ($ million)     611110  Elementary and Secondary Schools        $7.0    $10.0  611210  Junior Colleges        $7.0    $19.0  611310        Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools        $7.0    $25.5  611420        Computer Training        $7.0    $10.0  611430        Professional and Management Development Training        $7.0    $10.0  611519        Other Technical and Trade Schools        $7.0    $14.0  611630        Language Schools        $7.0    $10.0  611699        All Other Miscellaneous Schools and Instruction        $7.0    $10.0  611710        Educational Support Services        $7.0    $14.0last_img read more

Electrified: Duke Energy is pissing off everyone in Asheville

first_imgDuke Energy isn’t feeling the love from the uber-health-conscious, eco-everything mountain town.Earlier this month, a study revealed that Duke energy’s coal-fired power plant in Asheville is releasing dangerous levels of pollution in some of the region’s most popular recreation areas. Duke has also been lobbying heavily against a new solar energy bill; Asheville is home to seven solar energy companies and a booming Solarize Asheville movement. And last night, over 100 parents and teachers packed a school cafeteria to voice concerns over Duke’s plans to build a substation right next to a new Asheville elementary school.Physicians at the school meeting expressed concerns about children’s safety near a high-voltage facility and their long-term exposure to electromagnetic fields, which have been associated with increased risks of leukemia and other cancers. Duke dismisses the concerns as scientifically inconclusive.Asheville’s outdoor enthusiasts are outraged by pollution plumes from Duke’s coal-fired power plant blanketing popular recreation destinations, including Bent Creek, Pisgah National Forest, and the Blue Ridge Parkway. These areas experience sulfur dioxide levels that are dangerous to human health on one of every four days. Duke Energy admits that it could easily reduce its sulfur dioxide pollution levels by using scrubbers already installed at the facility, but it has chosen not to use these emission controls to save money.And just about everyone in Asheville is unhappy about Duke lobbying against the Energy Freedom Act in North Carolina, which would allow residents to buy clean power directly from a renewable energy company, bypassing their utility. North Carolina is one of only five states that still prohibits residents from purchasing energy from anyone except utilities like Duke.Duke Energy is generating some seriously bad karma, and all that bad energy could ruin its vibe. Hundreds are expected to attend Duke’s air quality permit hearing next Wednesday, April 29 (6 p.m. at Erwin High School) to demand full use of pollution controls and stronger air quality requirements for the facility. More rallies are planned by Solarize Asheville and environmental groups to overcome Duke’s opposition to the Energy Freedom Act. And the parents, teachers—and even the students—at Isaac Dickson Elementary are mobilizing to stop the Duke substation planned beside their school.Duke may be a mighty energy utility, but people power can still bring the juice.In Asheville’s already charged atmosphere, Duke has a choice to make: it can fight dirty, or it can play nice: it can use the pollution controls on its smokestacks, support renewable energy, and find a safer site for its substation.last_img read more

Endicott Village Board to hold meeting on industrial zoning laws amid battery facility concerns

first_imgFeb. 26, 2020: DIGGING DEEPER: Endicott officials demand answers before battery recycling facility moves in ENDICOTT (WBNG) — The Endicott Village Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting Thursday about industrial zoning laws. A letter obtained by 12 News sent to Endicott Mayor Linda Jackson’s office by the Union-Endicott School District asks the Village Board to delay its decision over potential changes to zoning laws. On March 27, the New York State Department of Conservation approved a permit for the construction of the recycling facility. Thursday evening’s meeting notice says there will be no public comment period. April 1, 2020: DEC approves permit for Endicott battery recycling facility. The meeting is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. and will be held over Zoom. The letter can be viewed below: Viewing on our news app? Click here! They say this is to “accommodate the Lithium Battery Recycling Project.” Mayor Jackson said this push for a change is not about any one facility. She told 12 News the zoning laws have no definition for recycling and they need to be changed. For previous coverage on this story, take a look at the following articles: Sungeel MCC Americas claims it would be the first facility of its kind in the United States to recycle lithium ion batteries. Union-Endicott School District Superintendent Nicole Wolfe and Board of Education President Dick Testa said they are concerned over the well being of their students. Jan. 9, 2020: Endicott residents charged up over battery recycling facility awaiting permitlast_img read more

The route to the loot

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img

Klijnsma calls for choice, solidarity and collectivity in pensions dialogue

first_imgPart of the dialogue will be nationwide meetings, where the Cabinet aims to check and supplement its own views, she said.She added that, depending on the interest and needs arising from these sessions, platforms for specific groups could be established.Klijnsma stressed that anyone with ideas about a sustainable pensions system could participate in the national dialogue, which will be held between September and December.The results of the broad discussion are to be laid down in a framework note, which will also include findings on the issue of the Social and Economic Council (SER).The state secretary said the outline note would include trends in society and experiences with foreign pension systems, and would be tabled in Parliament next spring.She added that the Cabinet would also address the consequences for the design of the system update, as well as possible transition routes and policy variants. Jetta Klijnsma, state secretary for the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs, has said freedom of choice on pension arrangements, solidarity on risks and income and which collective approach and players should shoulder which responsibilities will be the main issues in the ongoing debate over the long-term future of the Dutch pensions system.Outlining her plans for future talks, Klijnsma said a new website,, would become the focal point for the debate.She said the site – which is to go live in mid-August – would not only provide insight into the government’s orientation via surveys and polls but also contain links to the policy documents of important players in the debate. To support to dialogue process, Klijnsma presented a clarification of the definitions of the crucial concepts for the discussion.last_img read more

Ocean Installer Bags Askeladd Work

first_imgStatoil has awarded Ocean Installer a contract for marine operations on the Askeladd project in the Barents Sea.Ocean Installer said that the contract is significant in size and will further increase its operations in the Barents Sea.“The Askeladd award, together with the earlier Johan Castberg Award, will give us specific and unique experience in the far north region, which is expected to be a major growth area in coming years,” says Steinar Riise – Ocean Installer CEO.The Askeladd development will consist of three wells in two new subsea templates which are designed for adding any future wells. Infrastructure for tying the Askeladd development to the existing Snøhvit field installation will also be installed.Askeladd is located 35 kilometers South-West of the Snøhvit field and 175 kilometers from the LNG plant at Melkøya. The water depth is approximately 240 -330 meters.Ocean Installer will be involved with Askeladd throughout the entire development phase, until the field is hooked up to Snøhvit in 2020, with offshore operations planned for the summer seasons of 2019 and 2020.The project will be managed from Ocean Installer’s Stavanger office and will start immediately.last_img read more

Government to work with village councils ahead of the projected 2011 active hurricane season

first_img 16 Views   no discussions LocalNews Government to work with village councils ahead of the projected 2011 active hurricane season by: – May 13, 2011 Tweet Share Sharing is caring!center_img Share Share The Roosevelt Skerrit government will be engaging village council’s members around the island in an effort to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season which begins in June and stretches until November.Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit told a town hall meeting here recently, that government needs the assistance of the village councils in securing the vulnerable in the event of any major disaster.The forecast is that we may have a very active hurricane season and we have to start to prepare for it now. Each one of us must play our part to prepare for it. Over the next few weeks we will be engaging the village councils and groups in various parts of Dominica to get them to appreciate the need to start preparing for the hurricane season,” he said.Skerrit said citizens must ensure that the drains, ravines and culverts are not blocked so water could move freely.“We have to ensure that the overhanging tress which may pose ganger to homes and property are trimmed. If a tree is posing danger and threat to lives and property, we have to assist,” he said.Forecasters predict a busy season this year.Dominica Vibes Newslast_img read more