Water, water everywhere and not a drop to make a dough. That is unless you’re nine-shop Janes Pantry in Gloucester, which has been ferrying clean water to the bakery by car, just to keep production going amidst chaotic scenes of flooding. Running water was not expected to be back on for another week at the time of going to press, following the near-Biblical-scale down-pours that devastated Gloucestershire, with a month’s rain in just one hour.
The impact of the flooding - the worst for 250 years, even eclipsing the Great Flood of 1947 - has been grave for bakery businesses, both in a figurative and watery sense. A further kick in the spreadsheets will have come from having to use bags of flour in the absence of sandbags (pg 6), made all the more galling by the soaring prices for flour. Meanwhile, in-store bakery managers presided over empty aisles, as understandably anxious residents hit the shops to stockpile staples.
Gordon Brown and Secretary of State for the Environment Hilary Benn announced an independent inquiry into the flood events of June - which hit Yorkshire badly - and July. Not that turning back the clock on climate change, to which many attribute the erratic weather, will be a doddle. Forget bakery van sales; the future lies in bakery hovercraft!
However, it’s not our intention here to make light of the events, which will be putting a horrible burden on businesses. Our thoughts go out to them. At least one saving grace of this horrendous summer is that, for possibly the first time ever, we find ourselves looking forward to the autumn.
Similarly looking for a brighter dawn is Inter Link, which has been snapped up by McCambridge in the latest round of its acquisition sprees, safeguarding most, if not all, of the staff (pg 4). We hope that issues raised over suppliers’ debts will be amicably resolved.
Finally, we’re delighted to reveal the shortlisted entrants for the first six categories of the Baking Industry Awards. Congratulations to those of you that made it through to the final cut. Some great entries from outstanding com-panies failed to do so, and we would urge those companies to try again next year. Catch next week’s BB for the final six categories. Best of luck!