John Foster, new president for the Craft Bakers Association

Source: Craft Bakers Association

John Foster, the newly installed CBA president

The Craft Bakers Association (CBA) has installed John Foster as its national president for the 2024/2025 term.

The managing director of Fosters Bakery in Staincross near Barnsley takes over from Patrick Wilkins, who held the honourary role for the past two years. Neil Woods – Outstanding Contribution to the Baking Industry recipient at the 2021 Baking Industry Awards – was the CBA president prior to Wilkins.

The appointment of Foster was announced at the CBA Business Day last month. During his speech, Foster spoke passionately about the association and its role at the heart of the craft baking community.

He also revealed that a career in baking was all he had ever wanted to do, recounting memories of being a four-year-old going to work at the family bakery before school.

“Somebody once said that if you find a career that you love, you will never have to work a day in your life. Well, that’s rubbish,” declared Foster. “That somebody clearly never worked in a bakehouse because the baking industry, is hard work – blood, sweat and tears, no matter how much we love it.

“The difference between a professional and an amateur is that the amateur baker bakes what they want; the professional baker bakes what customers want to buy,” he added.

With fifty-odd years in professional baking, Foster has learnt many important lessons in understanding what is needed for success.

“The first two are products and customers, for us make wonderful food and provide great service,” he commented. “But professional baking also carries additional burdens, from people management, health & safety, taxation, environmental duties, to labelling and all manner of other compliance issues.

“Life is full of naysayers: inspectors, officers, auditors, solicitors, critics, reviewers, campaigners, and problem staff. Many are desperate to tell you, the doer of the deeds, that you are not doing the deeds well enough,” continued Foster, admitting the sometimes running a bakery was very stressful or lonely.

Despite these cautionary words, Foster encouraged members to engage with CBA chief executive Karen Dear and her team. “It is here to help keep the naysayers from stealing your profits or killing your spirit, because it is that spirit and passion that makes your products so good,” he enthused.

Foster was awarded an MBE in 2011 for his voluntary work tackling unemployment amongst “hard to engage” people including training prisoners to be bakers whilst inside and finding them good jobs on release.

In other recent news, the Alliance for Bakery Students and Trainees (ABST) also named a new president, bringing in Dawn Foods’ Jacqui Passmore to replace the outgoing Lucas Fussnegger.