CSM has officially opened its Innovation Center in Merksem, Belgium, which will focus on the latest developments in bakery margarines. It follows the opening last month of the company’s Innovation Center for frozen and bakery products at BakeMark’s site in Bromborough, Wirral, and is the third of four European centres to officially open.

"We aim to be the first in mind with our customers when it comes to creativity, innovation and problem-solving in bakery supplies," said chief executive of CSM Gerard Hoetmer. "Not only are we able to act as partners to our customers in understanding what consumers around the world really want, we are also distinctive in offering global solutions with a local touch."


=== Reporting in New Year, new opportunity ===

David Armstrong

Chief executive, Bako

This past year has been challenging for us all and a review does not make for appetising reading. At this point, it looks as though this difficult period will continue into next year, although the problems may come in different guises - with the strong prospect of deflation rather than inflation, pressure on the pound, and the continued lack of consumer confidence chief among them. What we do know is that people will still have to eat, meaning our sector is as well-placed as any to survive these uncertain times.

However, with the New Year comes new opportunity. I am convinced that the businesses that are strong and adapt to the changing market will emerge from these turbulent times even stronger.

2008 saw the industry come together to discuss important issues, including training and promoting the craft sector - two key elements of both survival and being fit for growth when the market recovers. This united approach is vital in the face of the current conditions and those involved are to be applauded and supported by the rest of us.

The businesses that continue to prosper next year will focus on the very basic element of understanding what their customers want - great quality fresh products, offering real value for money, and great local service. Understanding buying patterns early, will help establish strong customer loyalty and a sound basis for future growth.

So all that is left for me to do is wish you all - customers, colleagues, suppliers and competitors alike - a fantastic Christmas and a Happy New Year.