Mark Young BSB

Mark Young, chairman of the British Society of Baking, believes efficiency, automation and NPD will stand bakers in good stead for 2022.




As the new chair of the British Society of Baking, which has well over 100 members from our industry, I am very aware of the big issues we currently face. We stage two conferences per year, one during spring and the other in autumn; when we meet, we will not shy away from confronting these challenges.


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The biggest difficulties are energy supply costs, distribution problems caused by rising fuel prices, and the well-reported driver crisis. Poor harvests and a shortage of key commodities have added to the burden on businesses.

We must deal with a shortage of labour across all pay grades, both in recruitment and retention – maintaining a skilled workforce is paramount. Furthermore, environmental issues focusing on transport, packaging and sustainability, for example, have gained increasing prominence.

Mitigating these challenges will be extremely tough and cost implications go right down the line. In baking, energy costs are significant. At our recent pre-Covid conference, Stan Cauvain gave a fascinating talk regarding energy saving, dough processing and temperatures – this knowledge is now vital.

To mitigate staffing problems, we hope to see more advocacy and assistance for training and apprentices

Governments and supermarkets must listen too, because for bakers and suppliers inflationary price rises are inevitable. We invite key supermarket figures to speak at our conferences because it is important we become familiar with their thinking and the challenges they face. Asda, Morrisons and Tesco have already given us the benefit of their wisdom; we have asked M&S next. Speakers impart vital information and are willing to answer questions.

To mitigate staffing problems, we hope to see more advocacy and assistance for training and apprentices. Our conferences often include a session by students, recounting what they’ve learned and giving their opinions on what they feel needs to change.

We must attract more newcomers to the industry and strengthen our links with schools, colleges and centres of further education to make potential students aware of the opportunities. There are many aspects to our industry, from food science to bread baking, NPD to engineering and more.

Looking ahead, opportunities during 2022 and beyond will be centred upon more efficient and automated processing. Health will remain topical too, with calorie reduction, vegan and plant-based options and healthy inclusions all set to feature prominently. NPD will remain vital. Customers will continue to seek value for money because austerity could threaten to make a comeback.

Mark Young is sales director of his family business, Ingram Brothers, and has worked in the baking industry for 40 years.

This article forms part of a series where leaders of some of the most prominent bakery trade bodies highlight what they see as the biggest challenges and opportunities in the industry during the next 12 months. You can also read the thoughts of Gordon Polson, chief executive of the Federation of Bakers, Karen Dear, director of operations at the Craft Bakers Association, and Alasdair Smith, chief executive of Scottish Bakers.