At its annual conference, the Craft Bakers’ Association (CBA) welcomed a new president and announced changes to the board. 

Janet Carr, managing director of Warings Bakery, Tilehurst, Reading, was invested as the new president of the Craft Bakers’ Association CBA at its annual conference, held at Manchester’s Hilton Deansgate Hotel.

Carr, only the second female president in the CBA’s 129-year history, took over from David Smart, director at Bolton-based Greenhalgh’s, and will be in position for two years. President-elect was announced as Chris Tomkins, managing director of Kistrucks Bakery, South Woodford, Essex.

The two-day conference, which included a suppliers’ exhibition and the AGM, took business-to-business as its theme. At the AGM, Chris Beany of Kent -based Beany’s Bakery stepped down from the board after serving for nine years. Beany will continue to be actively involved in the CBA’s laser region activities in the south east. Meanwhile, Graham Nash, of Nash’s Bakery, Bicester, retired as chairman of the trustees, which cover the Benevolent Fund and Education Fund

Delegates listened intently on day two of the conference as an impressive line-up of speakers concentrated on what will drive future success. Consultant Audrey Deane of Safer Food Scores urged bakery businesses to plan ahead to meet the imminent implementation of the new Nutritional Labelling Compliance on 13 December. “Be measured and be planned,” she stressed, “then you’ll know how big this project is for you”. From the stage she confirmed that in spite of repeated requests for clarification, the enforcement bodies have yet to define local or small in the context of the new regulations. Both definitions, she admitted, were critical for bakery businesses to understand the full breadth of their compliance.

Founder and group CEO of We Are Spectacular, Mark McCulloch had delegates scribbling furiously as he explained how social media was an essential marketing tool for all bakery businesses regardless of size. “Telling your story is back in fashion,” he said. “You all have great stories – phenomenal stories – to tell. You make great products that make people happy; let consumers look into your production processes via video.” And he warned: “Millennials are your biggest audience – if you are not marketing to them your business will die.”

Charismatic Flemish baker Karl de Smedt, communication and training manager for Puratos Centre for Bread Flavour and Puratos Sour Dough Library urged bakers to re-educate their customers to the full taste and texture of bread by introducing sourdough. “Then sell to them at a much higher price than you do now,” he added.

The theme was continued by Claire Nuttall, founder of The Brand Incubator, a company that works with businesses on brand creation and development. “Don’t use the words quality and honesty to define your business,” she said. “They are boring and don’t mean anything. “ Instead she suggested bakers work on a conversational tone of voice and personality and have fun with messaging to customers.

Ending the business sessions was Beth Fahey, co-owner of Creative Cakes Bakery and Café in Chicago and president of the Retail Bakers of America. She took delegates through some of the key trends happening across the pond, citing “food as entertainment”, new flavour spins for doughnuts and “local and natural” as those driving the greatest change.

For more insights from the CBA conference, look out for the next issue of British Baker on 8 July.