Bread prices have at last begun to rise, but this mainly reflects the mammoth increases in flour and energy prices. Our world poll on bread prices (pg 4), collated by the Economics Intelligence Unit, is up to date for September 2006. The places on the chart showing the price of bread in London and Manchester make shameful reading!

But a turnaround is beginning. For years bread has often suffered negative press. Most of us who travelled and returned home to see economy white loaves filling the shelves and Atkins diet filling the media understood why.

However, with health to the fore and fantastic ranges now available from premium white to white with bits, cottage loaves to pain de campagne, plus new ’healthy’ perceptions of brown, wholemeal, seeded and organic, things have definitely changed. Bread is achieving a new status alongside its new price, which goes through the £1 barrier for the first time this month in many shops and stores.

Elevating the price will also elevate the image of bread and is one reason why the increase must be maintained. The flour and energy price rises have received national media coverage so consumers know why bread will cost more.

Millers are also telling me organic bread sales are growing. The problem is availability of home-grown organic wheat - a topic I hope will be covered by Lord Peter Melchett of the Soil Association, who is due to give the annual City Food Lecture at Guildhall next week. The event is co-sponsored by the Real Good Food Company, which announced good results this week (pg 12).

Also this week we find out how Greenhalgh’s craft bakery set about creating a new look (pg 23) and artisan bakers Barton & White cope with supplying the demanding restaurant trade (pg 26). On the industrial side, we speak to Maple Leaf, which is doing well in the bagel market and has completed a bold series of acquisitions (pg 18).

Meanwhile, Budgens buyer Nick Hill outlines what suppliers need to know (pg 16) and in our Friday Essay BakeMark’s Vera Malhotra (pg 15) explains why the emphasis on health means rebalancing recipes is so important - are you aware of what’s going on?