Interview: Baking Pies with Piglet’s Pantry
Piglet’s Pantry began as a small seaside bakery with a mission to create amazing British pies, using the best quality British ingredients. Nine years, three buildings and 32 British Pie Awards later they are supplying 50,000 baked goods per week to sports stadiums, entertainment venues and leading luxury brands. A family-run business, they’ve stayed true to their ethos and they pride themselves on sourcing local, sustainable ingredients to produce incredible tasting pies on a robust and efficient production line. One of the key elements of this is a temperature system that quality controls their products and increases security while freeing up time that can be better spent growing their business.
We visited Piglet’s Pantry in Sussex to see how they produce their handmade, award winning pies. We also spoke to Jo Hunter, who founded the business in 2011, about how our paperless temperature monitoring system has helped them as their business has exploded over the last decade.
How has Piglet’s Pantry grown since it was first established?
Piglet’s has grown exponentially. In 2011 Piglet’s were offered the opportunity to design the first Brighton & Hove Albion Pies. We were the first people to set foot in the kitchens and baked all our original 2,500 pies on site completely by hand. At the first friendly game against Tottenham we sold out 10 minutes after opening. We were asked to double our orders, but with 5,000 we still didn’t make half time. Eight years later and we make over 8,500 pies each match day for Brighton and we also supply many other Premier League and Championship clubs around the UK. We have moved premises three times, going from a cottage industry to a mid-size, full-scale production unit producing 50,000 units per week of a very diverse range of baked goods.
How have your requirements for temperature equipment changed as the business has developed?
When we first started out we only had probes. We had to record everything manually, which was very time consuming. We implemented a brand new ETI system when we moved into our new building. This was a game changer; we now have all of our temperature recordings backed up every few hours from our fridges and freezers with alerts if the temperatures go above our critical limits. The new ETI thermometers at each station can be programmed for all of the active products we are working on, allowing us to set not only critical limits but also quality control limits and information too. We have passed all our internal and external audits and this meets all of the current FSA requirements. It gives us true peace of mind and keeps us all safe.
At which points in the process do you take temperature measurements?
We measure the CCPs at all stages of our business, from product entry to product delivery. The main points are delivery goods in, walk in fridges, walk in freezers, ovens, blast chillers and delivery vans. At events there are also ovens and hot holding.
How does having a robust temperature monitoring system help you to save waste?
I could literally write a book on this subject. The main highlights:
Staff cost savings – having to write out lots of paperwork, paper getting lost and generally the loss of time in this area is huge. I would estimate we have saved two people’s salaries a month on this area alone.
Product waste – the robust methods of how we use ETI’s products and the technology in place means that alerts can be dealt with swiftly and smoothly with little downtime. The completion time from alert to engineer is between 20 minutes and two hours. This lack of downtime means product is always safe and doesn’t need to be destroyed.
Quality Control – the speed of taking temperature recordings and the parameters that we can set on the Saf-T-Logs helps us to control our product and reduce unnecessary waste at production.
How does your temperature monitoring system help your relationship with EHOs and what do they think of the system?
We are constantly being reviewed by external consultants, Primary Authority, EHO, SALSA Auditors, NSF and Safe Guarding. Every person who has been into our facility has been extremely impressed with the ETI complete set-up. They feel it gives robust, exceptional control over the production of our work and we are pleased to say we regularly achieve Grade A with minimal minor action points.
What is the benefit of using Thermapens to temperature check your products when catering at events?
At many large venues around the UK the basic probes in use are extremely slow. Thermapens are a game changer, the accuracy and speed of which they get to temperature is incredible. This saves time, energy and loss of heat from the ovens, ultimately ensuring product quality (including risk of acrylamide) and therefore giving maximum sales potential.
How have data loggers helped to save time when taking temperature checks?
No more paper – this is a critical and amazing time-saver. We never have to store or look for paper because it’s backed up and straightforward. Because they are so simple and easy to use we can also spend more time training staff on how to take accurate temperatures and more time on making the products.
How has the Saf-T-Log helped you to develop a more efficient HACCP plan?
The Saf-T-Log is fundamental to our CCPs – wherever there is a CCP we have a Saf-T-Log station, which makes them easy to identify around the building. The Saf-T-Logs truly reflect what we are trying to achieve in our HACCP plan rather than trying to make a product work and fit in. Traceability is also easy to identify.
How has ETI helped Piglet’s Pantry to find the right products for the business?
The dedicated technical team at ETI assisted us with finding the right products, which is reviewed and monitored every year. The calibration and replacement service is fast and very easy to use. The support is fantastic; when we have questions from audits they are always answered swiftly and easily.
What’s the future for Piglet’s Pantry?
Utopia for Piglet’s would be a method on delivery that can capture the code and use by dates of all our products as well as the temperature/quality control measures we can currently do with the ETI system. If we had this we would have a complete ETI solution and a future proof system that works for us across the board.