Bakery leaders gathered to discuss the key issues and challenges affecting the industry at the Federation of Bakers (FOB) Annual Conference, which took place on May 23, in London, UK.
The event attracted more than 100 senior stakeholders from across the baking industry. Expert speakers covered a wide range of topics, including health, with a focus on the government’s sugar reduction program; safety and sustainability, looking in particular at tackling waste; and Brexit, exploring the challenges and opportunities ahead.
The keynote speaker was Dr. Clive Black from Shore Capital Markets, who provided delegates with an overview of the key drivers currently influencing consumer behavior. There was also an inspirational address from former England women’s cricket captain, Charlotte Edwards CBE.
Gordon Polson, director of the Federation of Bakers, said: “Our Annual Conference never fails to deliver. It provides an excellent platform for us as an industry to gather – away from the day-to-day – to explore and discuss the issues and challenges that lie ahead. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who attended and to extend the Federation’s appreciation to our superb panel of speakers who gave us such informative and stimulating presentations. And there was, as ever, lively debate during the Q&A sessions.”
This year’s event was held in association with headline sponsor AB Mauri plus Baker Perkins, Bühler, Lesaffre, Kwik Lok and Zeelandia.
The conference followed the Federation of Bakers’ Annual General Meeting, which took place on May 22.
According to the chairman Mike Roberts, “Brexit is likely to have an impact on the bread industry and the Federation continues to monitor closely the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, particularly the key issue of supply of labor.”
Talking about the bread and morning goods category, they continue to benefit from innovation as bakers focus on product development across a wide range of sub-categories. “It is heartening to see this continued innovation from bakers, despite operating in a very competitive retail environment. The recently announced merger of Asda and Sainsbury’s is unlikely to result in an easing of this pressure on the market. It is interesting to note that the price of a loaf of bread today is the same as it was five years ago and that’s against a backdrop of weakened sterling and huge increases in raw material costs. Margins are certainly being squeezed,” according to Mike Roberts.
Speakers at the conference included:
Dr. Alison Tedstone – PHE
Professor Paul Sharp – Kings College London
Dr. Jan-Willem Van der Kamp – Healthgrain Forum
Ian Wright – FDF
Matthew Verity – Kantar Worldpanel UK
Moira Howie – Waitrose
Dr. Clive Black – Shore Capital Markets
Peter Worsey – WRAP
Mervin Poole – Heygates Mills
Giles Hyder – HSE