What it takes to deliver our daily bread

Andrew Pyne, Chief Executive of the Federation of Bakers, explores the challenges currently facing the bakery industry.

In an age when we are all rightly concerned about the environment, it is incumbent on the UK baking industry to thoroughly examine the full supply chain involved in producing our daily bread, in order to make our industry truly sustainable and secure our future.

The multifaceted challenges we face, alongside our colleagues in the food and beverage (F&B) industry generally, are well documented: increased costs that include energy, ingredient input, fuel, packaging, labour – as well as labour availability – and so on. There are equally challenging issues for the arable farming community that produces the wheat for milling and baking. Their pressures are associated with fuel and fertiliser prices, environmental compliance, crop rotation, cultivation, alternative organic matter usage, chemical use, rewilding, water security and carbon sequestration, to name a few.

If our farmers miss the mark on any of these issues, our daily bread’s long-term security is at risk, with the spectre of either low-quality yields or poor yields or, longer-term, potentially both. The milling and baking industry relies upon UK agriculture to produce consistently high-quality cereal grain in order to make bakery products of the highest quality and to do so at a consistent rate. The skilled master craftsmen who are Britain’s bakers are adept at fine tuning their processes, but they need consistent quality flour to bake consistently perfect loaves.