For the first time ever, the baking industry came together at a conference conceived and delivered by members of the sector.

Hosted by Roger Harrabin, independent environment specialist, and one of the media’s influential voices on the environment, energy and climate change, the Forum was held on 19th May.

The feedback from around 200 baking industry professionals, key service providers and ingredients suppliers, attending the ground-breaking event, was hugely positive. The event put into focus the key challenges facing the baking industry and a roster of speakers delivered food for thought, offering visions and potential solutions to future challenges.

Andrew Pyne, chief executive, of the Federation of Bakers commented: “The Baking Forum exceeded our expectations. It was wonderful to see so many key industry faces gathered together under one roof, sharing a common goal of navigating the best future for the baking industry. I thought the speakers were highly engaging, sharing their thoughts, visions and compelling ideas with real clarity. The knowledge exchange both from the speakers and between delegates was excellent and highly valued. I think this could only happen at this kind of unique baking industry event.”

James Walton, chief economist at IGD was the first speaker of the day and he delivered an overview of ‘The UK economic outlook and what it means for the UK Food and Beverage Industry’. This was followed and complimented by: ‘Trends, consumer behaviours and innovations for the baking industry’, a thought-provoking presentation delivered by Andrew Walker, director, client service at WorldPanel by Kantar. 

Jim Hawkridge, product development director, AB Mauri UK & Ireland, provided insight into ‘The future of baking’.

Adopting Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices and standards is something that is hugely relevant to everyone in the industry. Anna Turrell, sustainability director at Tesco, gave a presentation on the topic of ‘A retailer’s perspective on driving the ESG agenda.

Energy reduction was a major concern

Emeritus Professor Averil Macdonald OBE said that her key take away for delegates was “in the UK, the all-electric solution to achieving net zero can’t work in the timescales available – we can’t generate enough green electricity to go round or transmit enough to users – hydrogen has to be part of a multi-pronged approach.” Averil observed: “The event demonstrated a clear agreement that the whole sector is experiencing the same problems – achieving net zero while struggling to attract the full diversity of talents – and engendered an overwhelming atmosphere of willingness to work collaboratively to solve them.”

The net zero theme was continued in a conversation with Roger Harrabin, led by Andrew Pyne on ‘The economic, social, political and environmental case for the bakery industry to accelerate a drive to net zero.’

Karen Betts OBE, the FDF’s chief executive, also highlighted how the trade body is supporting the food industry and shaping the Government’s agenda.

The session of speakers was wrapped up with a panel discussion and Q&A hosted by Roger Harrabin; giving delegates the opportunity to pose any burning questions. The Baking Forum drew to a close in the evening, with a gala dinner.