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UK: Federation of Bakers addresses supply concerns

The UK’s Federation of Bakers, representing the country’s largest baking companies, announced the bread and bakery industry is taking measures to ensure the supply continues to meet market demands. Its members are working to maximum capacity, the association said, and had to make changes to their systems to meet demand, which is exceeding 50% above average, oftentimes. Besides increasing production volumes, some bakers also reduced the number of SKUs to maximize the production of core lines. The association continues to monitor the situation closely and said it will make further changes, if required.

“We are facing a number of challenges; however, we welcome the support that the government has already shown towards the industry and recently called upon the secretary of state for the support to continue. This includes ensuring flexibility of driver’s hours, provision of suitable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), prioritizing testing kits for the bakery industry and reviewing guidance on the provision of canteen food in the context of key workers. These measures will help to give the greater flexibility required in the supply chain,” said Gordon Polson, Chief Executive of the Federation of Bakers, in a statement. He pointed out that bakers are facing challenges other food manufacturers do not meet, which stem from the responsibility to deliver products directly to retailers’ stores. For this reason, the association expressed the need for flexibility to maintain business continuity.

The government is recognizing food production employees as key workers and relaxing drivers’ hours, a key factor in ensuring the products are delivered to retailers, which also helps to ensure regular delivery of flour and ingredients to bakeries.

Polson added: “The supply chain for bread and bakery products is not the same as other foods, which is why, we as an industry, are working together with the government to ensure there is a continuous supply of quality bakery goods to meet consumer demand during this unprecedented time.”

The Federation of Bakers represents the interests of the UK’s largest baking companies. It is a GBP 4 billion industry at retail sales value, which employs around 75,000 people in supplying 80% of the country’s bread.