Chief executive


The so-called ’mega trends’ of health and well-being, indulgence, convenience and ethical standards have been at the heart of new product development recently, colouring every product launch.

In the past 12 months, we have seen some remarkable changes in our industry: rampant commodity markets fuelled by commodity traders; growing populations in far away places; crop failures around the world; and the push for biofuels. On top of that came the credit crunch, the spectre of falling house prices and the erosion of disposable income.

So the questions are obvious. Will my customers have even tighter budgets? Will they trade down or cut costs elsewhere in their spending? How do I recession-proof my business? Should we be looking at premium products or economy versions? Can I look to reduce the cost of my products?

Frankly, I fear we are in uncharted water, at least for a little while. But this should not mean that we stop innovating and put everything on hold until we become more confident of how the land lies. It is exactly at moments like these that suppliers and bakers who seize the moment will be successful. In the last economic downturn, businesses became lean and removed costs to survive. Yet these are not options for many of us today and it is critical that we become even more fleet of foot in developing and launching new concepts and, where necessary, walking away from things that are less successful.

Charles Darwin said: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change."