The past year has seen plenty of highs and lows. Chairman Peter Freeman of the Competition Commission reported back its latest findings, which didn’t promise anything positive to give a level playing field on the high street or protect the independents from the domination of the big four in a multitude of areas.
The Queen’s speech to Parliament then revealed the government’s plans for the year ahead. It suggested that life is significantly better under Labour - for employees maybe, but what about the employer? Gordon Brown leads a government that has brought in more employee-friendly laws than any other.
In 2007, we seemed to jump from one crisis to another: atrocious weather conditions; avian flu; the foot-and-mouth outbreak; the increase in flour prices and the knock-on effect on bread prices.
Reports suggested that soaring global demand, more and more crops being set aside for biofuel and poor weather have been driving up prices since last summer. But bakers did not see just increases in flour; the whole commodities market saw price increases in key ingredients - butter, fats, cream, milk and cheese. So it has not been an easy year for controlling costs.
Highlights of the year included the Scottish Master Baker’s conference; the prestigious Baking Industry Awards; and the Worshipful Company of Bakers Election Banquet at the Mansion House.
Let me take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and prosperous Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.