Heavy rain during the summer means there is probably not enough UK wheat to produce bread to our exacting quality standards in the coming year.
It is now generally agreed that 2007 has been a poor harvest for both quality and quantity in a number of regions of the UK. This is a problem because in the past few years we have been using up to 80% of the UK wheat harvest for breadmaking. This situation inevitably has made us more vulnerable to year-on-year variations in the UK supply. It’s not a surprise, then, that we sometimes have to top this up with imports.
Despite the unusual summer weather and the wider problems of wheat supply and demand for food and non-food uses, our millers are able to provide flour of consistent quality for breadmaking by buying wheat from other countries.
The situation is not always so good in other parts of the world. Many countries in the Middle East and Africa have to rely almost completely on imported grain, arriving through a long supply chain. This can lead to inconsistent performance in the bakery. As a result, adjustments have to be made to the recipe or breadmaking processes. The result is extra time and cost in the bakery and products that vary on a regular basis.
It is a tribute to our millers that they are able to supply breadmaking flour of consistent quality, whatever the UK climate throws at us. It also reflects well on our bakers as they know the flour quality needed to make their products.