As far as prices go we have been hit by fuel and electricity charges, but I think most members of the industry made a price adjustment upwards to cover that. So I think they would be fairly stable for the next 12 months.
My other problem is that Canadian organic wheat is slightly lacking in volume quality at the moment. It was a wet year so protein levels were down, reducing the overall quality of product by 30%, which will impact on me by 20-25% in price. You can’t always pass that on to customers. But you’re always going to get ups and down in any marketplace.
In a milling environment, the rules for fumigation are changing. That is a bit of a concern for those of us that mill organically, as the changes would mean we would be prevented from milling for at least a week after fumigation.
Transport regulations, bag weights and other legislation are having an impact. But there is a reason for them and we’ve all got to live together.
If you look from the supermarkets downwards, there’s a great desire from Joe Public to buy more quality breads. We operate at the premium end of the market, so this is certainly good news for us. There has been a good percentage increase on our organic, French and premium conventional flours. People are more prepared to buy a branded, quality loaf than a value loaf despite the fact there may be a fourfold increase in price.
That filters down to the artisan level. If you look at the hotel and restaurant sector there has been a huge and relatively untapped bread market there for years. If hotels and restaurants can provide their customers with quality bread, then hopefully the customer will go out and find quality bread for their homes.
So I am buoyant about the year ahead. In fact, I don’t think anyone has reason to be negative about it.