There is lots going on at the moment. The Baking Industry Exhibition opens its doors at 10am on Sunday 6 April at the Birmingham NEC and runs up to and including Wednesday 8th.
The Baking Industry Awards are just waiting for your entries. Final deadline for entries has been put back to May 16 and all newcomers are especially welcome! Please do have a go and remember many people win on their second or third attempt. And British Baker has been undergoing a radical redesign of which you will see more next week!
But nothing stands still for long in this industry - least of all prices. The pound is now really down against the euro. So it is not enough that flour and commodities should be going through the roof, now bakery machinery - much of which is manufactured in Europe - is starting to see an increase!
Meanwhile, in the US, the plight of small bakers and much larger businesses like Sarah Lee prompted the American Bakers’ Association to hold a march in Washington DC. Its chief executive Robb MacKie said: "It is crucial that the White House, our elected representatives and the Department of Agriculture hear first-hand how bakers are struggling with current market conditions. Wheat and commodity markets are behaving in ways we have not seen before. Extra- ordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures!"
Well said that man! And he followed it up with a call for a reduction in the federal Conservation Reserve Program, which pays farmers to plant ground cover instead of wheat or other crops. He believes such a move could free up as much as seven million acres for planting wheat and other food crops. And if that’s not enough, he told government that, on land previously used to plant wheat and edible crops, farmers should not be rushing to plant corn to be refined into bioethanol; instead, the government needs to better balance the use of farmland between food and fuel requirements.
What a shame we do not have a Robb MacKie in the UK. I am beginning to see the benefits of cloning! The last time I saw bakers march on our parliament, it was to repeal the temperature regulations that meant all bakery snacks in small shops should be sold chilled to a ridiculous temperature. It worked. Perhaps it’s time we had another march!