My election came towards the end of 2006 which, like so many years of late, was challenging. Several pressures conspired to give the industry a hard time and we have begun 2007 with a number of well-known names missing from the market.
Challenges last year included the increase in raw material prices, the increased competition from products from outside the UK, and the ever-changing eating habits of consumers. Market pressures were mainly related to health issues, such as the removal of trans fatty acids, non-hydrogenated fats and salt. These created technical challenges which the industry is rising to meet.
It may sometimes feel as if we, as an industry, are being blamed for everything from obesity to high cholesterol. Yet we should not be too downhearted. Bread, in its various forms, still provides the main staple of the UK diet, and we can offer creative and indulgent confectionery products to fulfil consumers’ desires for other eating experiences.
Looking forward to the rest of 2007 and beyond, the industry needs to avoid being browbeaten by the difficulties and address the challenges with all the determination it possesses. We need to maintain and enhance quality in all areas and strive for more variety in more areas. We need to seek out and promote new eating occasions for bread and cakes, to stimulate the market. If we can do all that, when I come to look back after another six months in the chair, I hope I will look back positively at what we have achieved throughout the year.