Andrew Pyne joined the Federation of Bakers as chief executive in April after spending 20 years in the cereal industry. Here he discusses his plans for the organisation and its members.
With a few months under my belt as the new chief executive of the Federation of Bakers, I’ve had many great initial impressions. Firstly, I can think of few categories where the number of brands and our members are still family-run businesses. I’m sure there’s a correlation between that and the long-serving careers people in the baking industry have and the passion they demonstrate in the role they play in feeding the nation. That’s a big responsibility, with bread still purchased by over 99% of UK households.
It’s critical to have the correct governance structures and working groups in place
That commitment has been both challenged and demonstrated over recent years, keeping bakeries open and Britain fed with bread during the pandemic. Before the UK was able to return to a new normal, the impacts of the invasion of Ukraine put further increased pressure on the industry. Two key commodities for bakeries, wheat for bread and gas for the ovens, have seen monumental price rises. The FoB members are working hard, with a watchful eye on inflationary pressures, to ensure bread remains the available, affordable and nutritious dietary staple for UK consumers.
But we must look ahead. I have been taking time to listen to our members and associate members, along with the supply chain and interested stakeholders to hear their opinions and experiences, before preparing for the future.
Taking the opportunity to review the purpose of the FoB, and the vision for the next three to five years, will ensure we are in the best place to face the challenges ahead. It’s critical to have the correct governance structures and working groups in place. The Federation’s technical and health & safety committees have been at the heart of the great work delivered by, and for, members for decades. As the environmental sustainability agenda has transformed the view of industry and civil society alike, the Federation continues to focus and adapt to issues influencing everyone’s future.
The labour market, in a low employment, high inflationary period, remains a challenge – attracting and securing the best candidates to the industry, and retaining them in a competitive labour market, is a big issue. The history of bakery gives me real hope we will overcome this challenge, which is across the whole food and drink industry.
But more imminently, we have the Bread and Flour Regulations (1998) consultation. It will be the task of the Federation to work with our members, vested stakeholders and government to help ensure the regulations are fit for purpose for the years ahead.