In 2017, 10% of bakers felt Brexit would have a negative impact on them. This year, that figure is 46%.
By this point, we can be forgiven for thinking the Brexit shambles will never end.
As I write this on the morning of 3 April, we’ve had a ministerial resignation today (likely not the last), claims the leader of the opposition is now deputy Prime Minister, and suggestions the Conservative and Labour parties are about to tear themselves apart.
Meanwhile, Britain’s business owners continue to be left with little idea under what conditions they and their suppliers will be operating.
As Food & Drink Federation chief executive Ian Wright CBE, put it last night: “Livelihoods are at stake, jobs are on the line. Food and drink manufacturers are spending money, time and effort trying to plan under a cloud of perpetual uncertainty.
“A further extension to Article 50 must be sufficient to allow for a new plan to emerge. Unless the Prime Minister can secure the speedy support of the leader of the opposition, another short extension would only prolong the misery for businesses and the country.”
Under these circumstances, British bakers’ fears about Brexit have increased over the past three years.
Every January since the referendum, as part of research for our annual Bakery Market Report, we have asked our readers whether they agree with the statement: “Brexit will have a negative impact on my business in the coming year.”
In 2017, just 10% said they ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ Brexit would have a negative impact. In 2018, that figure rose to 29% and, in the survey conducted this January, rose again to 46%.
Meanwhile, the proportion who ‘disagreed’ or ‘strongly disagreed’ Brexit would have a negative impact on them has fallen from 56% last year to just 21% this year.
Only yesterday, Signature Flatbreads revealed in had increased the wages it pays its factory staff to help mitigate uncertainty.
And yet, for all the justifiable fear around the impact of a chaotic Brexit, many in the industry are feeling good about the future.
For example, St Pierre Groupe – previously Carrs Foods – has secured £6.7m to grow its business, which relies heavily on the overseas market.
And, according to more of our Bakery Market Report research, the proportion of bakers feeling positive about the future of their businesses is similar to a year ago, as is the proportion seeing a long-term future for independent high street bakery retailers.
Subscribers to British Baker will be able see full details of this, plus our new bakery pricing survey and information on the 75 largest retail bakery operations, by downloading the Bakery Market Report from the end of this month.
By which time, the Brexit position may be clearer. Or not.