The right sort of indulgence Scotland's sweet tooth and strong baking tradition stand it in good stead in the race to produce tempting and innovative sweets, cakes and other baked goods. Clare O'Brien reports Scotland is the home of baking. It's an essential part of Caledonian culture especially in the Highlands where everything from school fun days to local council meetings are made more palatable by mounds of savouries, cakes and scones. But all this home baking doesn't seem to reduce Scotland's appetite for bought cakes, pastries, sweets and biscuits, though ­ and of course there's an eager appetite for the best of the country's cooking in the rest of the UK and abroad. Independent family-run firm Walkers Shortbread in Aberlour on Spey makes the most of its origins with its easily recognisable tartan packaging ­ but it doesn't stop at producing traditional butter shortbread. The Scottish Biscuit range ­ winner of one of this year's Food From Scotland Excellence Awards sponsored by The Grocer ­ includes varieties flavoured with stem ginger, toffee and pecan, fruit and lemon or chocolate chunk with hazelnut. There's also a range of rich liqueur fruit cakes laced with Drambuie, Cointreau and Courvoisier Cognac. And one new novelty line aimed at the younger market is Fairytale Chocolate Chip Shortbread, a smaller size biscuit laced with dark and white chocolate chips and packed into a specially themed biscuit barrel. Paterson's of the Paterson Arran group is another company targeting children ­ as well as tourists ­ with its Loch Ness monster Shortbread Shapes. Based at the Royal Burgh Bakery in Livingston, the company specialises in traditional baked goods such as oatcakes, biscuits and shortbread, with an increasing involvement in luxury goods. Sales and marketing director Simon Burr says: "Our efforts to aid market growth in the UK are currently targeted at the premium sector of the biscuit market as a swing to indulgence is occurring." It's perhaps true that healthy eating isn't something the public automatically associates with baked goods, cakes and sweets, but that doesn't mean that the main players aren't also looking at organic and healthy products. "We're aware the healthy element of the market is important," says Burr, "and we'll be addressing this issue, on top of the organic products we produce." Dean's Shortbread recently launched a Hand Baked Oatcake, a premium product, with a healthy selling point ­ a claimed 30% less saturated fat than rivals. Every Scottish baker believes in innovation. "New products are the highest priority in our business," says Paterson's Burr. "Research shows that's what driving category growth." Dean's financial director Scott Kelman agrees. "It's our intention to add a further 50% to our turnover in the next three years. "We believe this will be achieved through a combination of new product and new market development as well as further penetration of our existing markets." Walker's Shortbread is about to launch two new lines, chocolate dreams and butterscotch shortbread. "We've been extremely active this year to develop new products and expand the shortbread and speciality baked goods markets," says md James Walker. Like Walker's, Thomas Tunnock of Glasgow is a venerable family firm, one whose famous Caramel Wafer Biscuits are now a 40-year-old national institution exported as far afield as Trinidad and Newfoundland. The company was recently presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Royal Highland Society (The Grocer, June 23, p16). The product sells more than four million per week and rivals Irn-Bru in Scottish packed lunch penetration. There's even a Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Appreciation Society at St Andrew's University. Almost as famous is Tunnock's Teacake ­ a round chocolate covered marshmallow on a biscuit base. "At present, we're committed to biscuit and wafer production," says md Boyd Tunnock, grandson of founder Thomas. "They sell successfully in confectionery and as snacks in all food outlets." However, the company isn't resting on its laurels. It's trialling two new products, dark chocolate versions of the caramel wafer and teacake and has created Milk Chocolate Florida Orange Creams. Its production facilities are also being extended and upgraded to meet growing demand. "We're also increasing our advertising budget to get better penetration in all sectors," says Tunnock. {{Z SUPPLEMENTS }}