Ann Wells, group marketing director at Brook Food Processing Equipment, on the changes her business has seen since it started up a quarter of a century ago

As Brook Food Processing Equipment celebrates 25 years of supplying equipment to bakers, we are remembering what the industry was like back in the mid-1990s, when our business started from a small lock-up unit.

The greatest difference now is a stronger interest in hand-crafted, artisan products and how they are produced. There is less demand for low-cost, and what might be seen as high-output products, and huge demand for quality and authenticity.

Until the last decade, the bakery trade wasn’t as respected in terms of new development and progression. However, increased interest in home baking, following shows such as Bake Off, means bakery has become a kind of rock and roll. With consumers more aware of the foods they eat, hopefully there is no going back from the limelight the baking industry finds itself in.

The term ‘bakery’ and what it is defined by has changed massively. In the 1990s, a bakery was often seen as a traditional business, with perhaps a few shops and maybe a wholesale arm. Now, it means so many things: a bakery business might be someone baking for farmers’ markets from their kitchen, or a general food factory that supplies baked goods among others. Not forgetting, of course, the various retail concepts and high street shops and chains.

The market now has a place for businesses that focus on individual products. All manner of unique and specific products are being made in specialised production facilities of all sizes. Retailers and consumers have picked up on these higher-quality, unique products and their selling power, and the industry is thriving on the back of some creative and memorable delicacies.

When we started selling machinery there was a lot of older equipment available in the second-hand market. As time has moved on, and our customers’ own businesses grew, we began to sell new machinery and, soon after the new millennium, became the UK agent for manufacturer Polin. This relationship is one we are still building and we continue to serve the UK with a range of their equipment, as well as an even broader stock of used machinery.

As we celebrate, we want to mark our 25th anniversary by giving something back and supporting worthwhile causes. So, for every order our customers place with us of £1,000 or more we will donate £25 to our chosen charity of that month. And if January is anything to go by, we could donate more than £20,000 during 2019. A big thank you to all those who have ordered and spent with us.