Sunflower power

first_imgHave you ever seen fields of sunflowers swaying gently in the summer breeze, a beautiful blend of yellow and green emboldened by dramatic black centres? It was certainly a sight that seared into the soul of Holland’s famous post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh, whose painting of sunflowers forged his fame. The Dutch name for sunflowers is ‘sonneveld’. It is also the name of a company in Papendrecht, Holland, that hopes to make a big impression of a different kind in the British and Irish bakery markets.Sonneveld supplies bread improvers, mixes and release agents, manufacturing them at one of Holland’s most state-of-the-art plants, headed up by MD Geert Sonneveld – ‘Mr Sunflower’.Geert Sonneveld’s father, who began as a master baker and branched out into selling lard to his customers, started the family company 50 years ago. He was then joined by his son, Geert, who is still at the helm of the firm three days a week, having joined the company with a remit to develop new products. Geert Sonneveld took a slightly different path: “I began making bakery emulsions in a room behind my father’s bakery and improvers became my passion,” he says. How successful has he been? “Well,” he says, in a matter-of-fact voice, “I believe we have grown to become the biggest supplier of liquid improvers and mixes throughout Europe.”New marketsThis year, Sonneveld celebrates its 50th birthday and operates from one the cleanest, most modern factories in Europe. To celebrate, Geert Sonneveld is taking all his 150 staff and partners to a festive weekend in Budapest.But the anniversary has also seen the birth of a new ambition – to make inroads into the British and Irish markets, where the company believes its products are eminently suitable for the plant baking industry, as well as for in-store and craft bakeries.To facilitate its debut, Sonneveld has gone into partnership with one of the UK’s best-known names in improvers, Martin Churchill, who has been appointed technical sales manager for the UK and Ireland.Mr Churchill also began as an apprentice craft baker, working in Swanage. From there, he went on to jobs ranging from ovens to in-store bakeries, followed by a senior technical role at Spillers. After this, he moved on to ingredients supplier and wholesaler Kluman & Balter. I ask Mr Sonneveld why he thinks his products are right for the British market. He tells me: “The size of the plant bakery market in Britain is similar to that of Holland. It is an area in which we have a lot of experience. Sonneveld’s expertise lies in providing quality improvers and mixes. But we are known for our new product development, aiding continuous development of new products for plant bakers, for example in the area of soft rolls.“We make innovations happen,” he asserts. “We have special development programmes for each sector – plant, in-store and craft – and we build relationships with trust. We become partners with our customers. For example, in the 1990s we innovated with liquid shortenings and many new mixes. Now, we have patented a block improver that is simply sliced. This was developed after listening to our craft customers.”In the UK, Martin Churchill works with Sonneveld’s UK sales director Ruud Klasens. Ruud speaks English pretty much like a native and explains that the company uses 300 raw materials, all with barcodes and complete traceability stretching from its supplier through to its customers. The company also provides software support connecting its suppliers and its customers.Twenty-five people are employed on research and development at Sonneveld, more than are employed on production, which is highly automated. “We make a bespoke range of improvers and mixes,” says Mr Klasens, “because the big users, in particular, know exactly what they want to achieve. But there is a standard range too.” Sonneveld processes 10,000 orders a year and makes 1,500 products. “We pride ourselves on being daring and creative and adapting to individual needs,” he adds. As well as claiming to be market leader with its products in the Benelux countries, Sonneveld supplies the Middle East, Russia, Finland, France and Eastern Europe. As part of its service, it provides information on consumer tastes and market research for all these countries. “That’s what service and partnership means,” says Mr Klasens. And the company does not market itself under sub-brands or other brands, just Sonneveld.Marketing muscleBut no company can make inroads without marketing and that is the province of Sharon Lowensteyn, who begins by giving me a tour of the factory. First off, I see the raw materials arrive via silos: 10 outdoor and eight indoor. Fine ingredients arrive bagged, but must pass full metal detection before use.The vast warehouse for goods-out is busy, but elsewhere seems fairly quiet. That, I learn, is down to the large levels of automation, and also the fact that all powdered ingredients are sprayed with oil and emulsifiers, so there is no dust.While being focused principally on trade products, the company also makes a range of consumer bread mixes, which represents a small percentage of sales. Sonneveld uses encapsulated yeast, thus giving the mix a nine-month shelf life. “We endeavour to be innovative,” she says. “New products for bakers have included Marlino, which was exclusive to artisan bakers for three years, but has now been demanded by the plants.” This is a yeast-free mix containing baking soda, raisins, sugar, flour, water, chocolate powder and fats.“Sonneveld provides bakers with the mix, the base ring for the cake and also posters showing the product. Our research told us that a typical consumer for Marlino was a hermit during the week but a bon-vivant at the weekend, so we tailored the poster accordingly,” says Ms Lowensteyn. “Research shows that consumers’ main drives at the moment are health and convenience. So for the health-driven sector, we supply organic mixes for products such as pumpkin breads. These are made off-site and guaranteed anti-allergenic – there are no animal fats on the premises at Sonneveld and no nuts. We have also cut down on trans fatty acids.”She continues: “For convenience we know that there are more single people, who want smaller volumes – perhaps four slices of bread. But whatever consumers choose – standard bread, Pain de Camargue, Dolce Pane Sunflower Bread or one full of grains – the perception must be of freshness, diversity and indulgence. That must be reflected in the marketing.”SmileNext I meet Cees (pronounced Case) Hack, commercial director, and he tells me to smile. I didn’t think I looked unhappy, but he is actually talking about an acronym the company uses to describe the products that can be made with Sonneveld mixes:SimpleMemorableInterestingLikeableEmotive.Mr Hack joined from DSM eight months ago, having started life in a craft bakery at the age of 15. He then moved into teaching bakery and wrote two books on baking technology. Next, he moved to Unilever’s bakery division, which enabled him to take a Masters in Food Science. As a relative newcomer to the company, I ask him to define his role. “I put in the drive,” he says. “To do that you need to be proud of your products, focused and decisive.”Mr Hack has demonstrated the latter by deciding to target the UK and Ireland, and building the partnership between Martin Churchill and Ruud Klasens.His management style centres on delegation and trust. “If you delegate to people you must give them responsibility, but protect them. I say to them that if they go outside their remit, they should tell me and, if they blow it, next time ask me. That is an important pathway to growth.”But he limits geographical growth to deliverable distances. “We will distribute our goods to anywhere within 1,500km (which takes in Britain and Ireland). We like to stay close to our customers, the bakers, and within those parameters, we can also provide full traceability records within one hour – often less.Raw materialsHow many raw materials does it take to make mixes and improvers? Mr Hack explains that Sonneveld buys some 300 raw materials and converts them into several main products.- Powder: all sprayed with oil and emulsions so there is no dust; – Paste: which needs to be scooped;- Liquid: not based on fat, but oil so it can be pumped. This formula is more suited to fully automated bakeries;- Block: a patented combination of powder and paste, which is easily dosed (cut), and can be stored at ambient temperatures of up to 30ºC, or refrigerated.The 300 raw materials end up as 1,500 products, which are supplied to craft, in-store and plant. Mr Hack adds: “I believe we are the only manufacturer of liquid bread improvers made on a fully automated line, with a recent investment of E8m. But investment does not stop there. Currently we are investing in a E2.5m Innovation Centre.”But the last words belong to Martin Churchill and Ruud Klasens, the duo charged with targeting the British and Irish markets. Mr Churchill says: “We started visiting potential customers three months ago and found they particularly like our fast-moving new product development. At the moment, there is strong interest in fruited breads, with soft crumb rolls and seeded breads following fast behind.”The ever-cheerful Mr Klasens, for whom the SMILE acronym could have been invented, tells me: “I am delighted to be part of this venture, it is really exciting. We have much to offer but are just as keen to listen.”As we head back to the airport, it is midwinter and there is not a sunflower in sight. But Mr Klasens diligently enquires if we would enjoy a brief diversion to see some famous windmills standing proudly along a canal. For a man called Ruud he’s very polite.last_img read more

Breaking: Theresa May to resign as UK prime minister

first_imgTheresa May has announced that she will quit as Conservative leader and prime minister of the UK on 7th June.The Tory leader made an emotional statement outside Downing Street this Friday morning, saying that she has done her best to deliver a Brexit deal.She said: “I have done everything I can to convince MPs to back that deal. Sadly I have not been able to do so.” Mrs May said that her failure to deliver Brexit would remain a matter of ‘great regret’.The process to select a new leader will begin in the week after Mrs May stands down on 7th June. Breaking: Theresa May to resign as UK prime minister was last modified: May 24th, 2019 by Rachel McLaughlinShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

QPR and Stoke reportedly both keen on former Arsenal man Eduardo

first_imgStoke as well as QPR are reportedly interested in former Arsenal man Eduardo.He almost moved to Loftus Road from Shakhtar Donetsk in January and is one of a number of strikers Rangers manager Harry Redknapp is considering as a possible signing.And it is claimed that Stoke’s former QPR boss Mark Hughes is eyeing the 31-year-old Croatian.Related West London Sport story: QPR in talks with Ajax over deal for strikerQPR face competition from Tottenham for the signing of Nottingham Forest defender Jamaal Lascelles, according to the Daily Mail.Centre-back Lascelles is wanted by QPRWest London Sport this week revealed that Rangers had made an offer for the 20-year-old centre-back. Forest have since insisted that he is not for sale.And the Mail say Spurs are planning to table a £5m bid for Lascelles, who made 34 appearances for Forest last season.It is also suggested that the player would prefer to stay in the north rather than move to London.Meanwhile, Chelsea have joined Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United in the race to sign Sporting Lisbon defender Marcos Rojo, the Express claim.The Argentine has been touted as a possible successor to Ashley Cole at Stamford Bridge.Three overseas clubs are looking to sign left-back Cole following his recent departure from Chelsea, according to Sky.Elsewhere, there is speculation that Chelsea may try to hijack Real Madrid’s bid to sign Germany international Toni Kroos from Bayern Munich.There is also speculation over the future of Petr Cech amid reports that he could be ousted as Chelsea’s first choice goalkeeper by Thibault Courtois.Cech could face stiff competition for his place at ChelseaThe Mirror reports that Cech’s agent Viktor Kolar is confident the 32-year-old will be snapped up by a top European club if he loses his place.Kolar is quoted as saying: “We have not been given any signals that Petr would be made available.“If that was the case, though, you have to realise that Petr is one of the world’s top goalkeepers and has a certain salary.“There are not many clubs who could afford to sign him. If he were to leave, we’re discussing two or three clubs in the world.”The Daily Star claim Eliaquim Mangala wants to join Chelsea despite Manchester City agreeing a £32m deal for the Porto and France defender.The Star also say Atletico Madrid have cooled their apparent interest in Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku.Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

Can Psychology Figure Out Humans?

first_imgPsychology is often considered a soft science.  Anything they pronounce one year is likely to be modified or overturned the next.    A few years ago (and still in some quarters), self-esteem was all the rage (now fading, though; see 05/12/2003).  We should be assertive and confident, we were told, and make our feelings known.  Two recent reports might place more value on self-restraint.    Last month Science Daily reported, for instance, that it’s OK to keep your feelings to yourself.  “Contrary to popular notions about what is normal or healthy, new research has found that it is okay not to express one’s thoughts and feelings after experiencing a collective trauma, such as a school shooting or terrorist attack.”  Many teachers and school counselors may feel a jolt at that idea.  Don’t the psychological counselors rush in after every disaster to help students express their feelings?  Might it be possible in some cases that such a response does more harm than good?    On July 1, a report on Science Daily warned about the perils of overconfidence.  A French psychologist tested subjects with a computer game and tried to measure the effect of overconfidence on their reactions.  His research “suggested” a pretty far-reaching conclusion: “Overconfidence is not limited to the realm of subjective beliefs and cognitive judgments but appears instead to reflect a general characteristic of human decision making.”  Is such a conclusion warranted by one little artificial test?  Can psychologists really find the sweet spot between underconfidence and overconfidence for all possible personalities in all possible situations?The usefulness of psychology as a science is very limited.  Some findings about memorization and learning methods have value, but any time they try to generalize about human nature, psychologists are right about as often as the proverbial broken clock.  The field is replete with discredited theories, contradictory speculations, and outright scandals (Freud, Jung).  Some of its teachings are indistinguishable from those of cults.  Who needs these guys?    The rational animal is far too complex for a science of the soul.  If lab rats under controlled conditions do what they darn well please (the Harvard Law), how much more people who can choose to deceive and mislead a researcher?  There are no scientific laws in this field anything as rigorous as the law of gravity.  You are likely to have far better luck figuring out how to interact with your fellow humans with good old folk psychology: the kind we learn growing up.  We learn by experience how to judge one another’s inner mental states, to anticipate what they will say or do, to empathize with what they are feeling.  We assume, without proof, that our fellow humans are rational entities, not just Pavlovian responders to neural states (see 06/21/2008, bullet 3), despite what the cognitive neuroscientists tell us.  In terms of explanatory power and practical utility, folk psychology has a pretty impressive track record over professional psychology.  It is arguably just as scientific.    Best of all is to get your anthropology from the operator’s manual.  Only the Maker understands how humans are put together.  First, we need to get reconnected to the power source.  The Bible says we are like walking dead needing life, rebels needing to lay down our arms, fools in need of wisdom, sinners in need of redemption (Romans 3).  Christ’s sacrificial work, accepted by faith, pays our debt, resurrects us back to spiritual life and imputes His righteousness to us.  Then, the Bible’s instruction manual, such as the Proverbs of Solomon and teachings of Jesus Christ (e.g., Sermon on the Mount – but don’t stop there) and the writings of Paul, James, John and the other apostles are the textbook for living.  The Bible is loaded with real, practical principles on all aspects of life.  It comes with numerous case studies.  No other source of soul-ology (psychology) has the Creator’s imprint on it.  Why would you go anywhere else?  The sweet spot for confidence is right there: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).(Visited 9 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

10 months agoBarcelona coach Valverde delighted with Levante rout: Very different to last year

first_imgAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say Barcelona coach Valverde delighted with Levante rout: Very different to last yearby Carlos Volcano10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveBarcelona coach Ernesto Valverde was delighted with their 5-0 win at Levante.Lionel Messi shone for the Catalans as the Argentine bagged three goals and provided two assists.”We are happy because last year we played here and conceded five after a whole season without losing,” Valverde said.”That was only a few months ago, they are having a great season and they keep showing that.”We remembered last year and we managed to put it behind us and leave with a clean sheet.”Levante started well on Sunday but ultimately fell short and Valverde says he expected the game to begin as it did.”They started as we imagined,” he said.”We had to change the setup based on the casualties we had so it was difficult for us and they squeezed us.”They’re able to score and dangerous when they counterattack but we had the fortune of opening the score.” last_img read more

10 months agoDONE DEAL: Sporting CP keeper Emiliano Viviano joins SPAL

first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say DONE DEAL: Sporting CP keeper Emiliano Viviano joins SPALby Carlos Volcano10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveFormer Italy goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano has joined SPAL.Viviano has moved to SPAL on-loan to the end of the season from Sporting CP.The 33-year-old only joined Sporting last summer after four years as Sampdoria’s No 1, along with Stefano Sturaro and Sinisa Mihajlovic.However, a change of board at Sporting has seen Viviano failing to make any appearances in the first half of 2018-19. last_img

Jamaicans Urged to Prepare for Fourth Industrial Revolution

first_imgStory Highlights Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, is urging Jamaicans to prepare themselves to benefit from the opportunities to emerge from the fourth industrial revolution, which, he says, the entire world is already experiencing. The Minister was speaking at the launch of the Dr. Andrew Wheatley Centre for Digital Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing at the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) on Wednesday (November 15). He noted that skills will be needed to bridge the gap between engineering and computer science, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Therefore, Jamaicans need to start seeking the necessary training that will make them qualified for jobs. Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, is urging Jamaicans to prepare themselves to benefit from the opportunities to emerge from the fourth industrial revolution, which, he says, the entire world is already experiencing.This fourth wave of industrial development is characterised by a fusion of digitalisation and automation in order to make machines smart, interactive and easy to use.It builds on the third revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century, and involves the use of electronics and information technology to automate production.“These new technologies will have a significant impact on the way we live and work. In fact, we are seeing, every day, that new types of robots are being built; robots that will now interact with humans. This revolution will challenge all our industries. It will change our economy and it will definitely change our lives,” the Minister said.He noted that skills will be needed to bridge the gap between engineering and computer science, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Therefore, Jamaicans need to start seeking the necessary training that will make them qualified for jobs.“We have to upgrade existing skills, reskill and learn to collaborate and coexist with intelligent machines. This technological revolution is multifaceted and its implications are transformational.With digitalisation, opportunities will be created for entrepreneurs and businesses while bringing enormous benefits to consumers,” he added.The Minister was speaking at the launch of the Dr. Andrew Wheatley Centre for Digital Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing at the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) on Wednesday (November 15).The Centre will facilitate training in 3D laser scanning and advanced manufacturing, including drone technology.It is the first and only innovation centre in the English-speaking Caribbean that will facilitate research and development aimed at digital transformation.It seeks to attract talented student designers, creators and engineers, and will be available to students, faculty and industry practitioners who want to utilise additive manufacturing for co-innovation in a research-based environment. The Centre will perform a variety of rapid prototyping and low-volume part manufacturing.Dr. Wheatley welcomed the Centre and pointed to the need for other such facilities in the island.“I believe that this Centre provides an opportunity for us to explore our innovative capacity as a people. We need to move away from being mere consumers of technology, to become innovators of technology,” he said.The Dr. Andrew Wheatley Centre for Digital Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing has the most sophisticated fleet of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printers in Jamaica.There are 16 such printers, including one professional-grade printer used in manufacturing environments by big brands such as General Motors, BMW, Boeing and others.last_img read more