There’s a lot going on in October – the British Society of Baking Conference on Tuesday October 9 at Coombe Abbey, Wawickshire; our own Bakers’ Fair at Bolton Arena on Sunday October 14 from 9.30am to 4pm; and a major morning conference on the future of Bakery education for craft and plant bakers and college tutors on Tuesday October 30 at Bakers Hall, London, EC3.But there is also a huge amount going on in the industry this week. Finsbury Foods has bought Anthony Alan and Harry Kear has sold his stake in Rathbones.Though nothing trumps the fact that Rank Hovis will be raising the price of flour by £85 per tonne and ADM has already announced a similar price rise (pg 4).The amount sounds incredible, doesn’t it? And it translates into a bread price rise of up to 10p on an 800g loaf. But, as I am sure you know, it is not just the UK that is experiencing huge rises in flour and other commodities.This week the Wall Street Journal in the US carried the headline: ’Historic surge in grain prices’. It went on to state: “Rising prices and surging demands for crops are producing the biggest changes in global food markets for 30 years.”Kansas wheat is up 70% or more. “The days of cheap grain are gone,” confirmed Dan Basse, president of AgResource, a Chicago commodity forecasting company. Meanwhile, Italian shoppers have been urged to boycott pasta (with no success!), Pakistan is curbing wheat exports, Russia is considering doing the same and the already hungry people of Zimbabwe have now run out of bread completely.We are in uncharted territory because all the predictions I have read suggest the situation could escalate over the next decade. Why? Because demand exceeds supply, harvests are bad, conventional cropland is being used to grow biofuels and a growing middle class in developing countries wants more milk and meat, so more grain is being grown for livestock feed (a cow has to eat six pounds of grain to put on a pound of weight).The biggest struggle for millers and plant bakers is to figure out how to pass on the price increases to the supermarkets. I hope the multiples will be realistic and accept that today’s consumer is informed and will pay up. They did when coffee went through the roof. Now it’s the turn of bread.
By Dialogo December 21, 2009 The commander of the Colombian Armed Forces, Gen. Freddy Padilla, dismissed as “propaganda” the announcement of an alliance between the FARC and ELN guerrilla groups in opposition to the agreement that allows the United States to use military bases in the country. “Propaganda, propaganda. Colombians can’t let themselves be deceived or surprised,” the top Colombian military commander said in statements to Caracol radio station. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, a Marxist group) and the National Liberation Army (ELN, Guevarist) issued a statement announcing an alliance in opposition to the military accord between Colombia and the United States. “Comprehension of the exigencies of the moment and our revolutionary condition leads us to order all our units to cease confrontation between the two forces as of the publication of this document,” according to the statement, publicized on Wednesday by the Anncol news agency. For General Padilla, this alliance “is impossible (because) they are in dispute over the control of territory in order to try to profit from drug trafficking.” “They’ve killed one another in some places, like the southern region of (the department of) Bolívar (in the northern part of the country). In (the department of) Arauca (on the border with Venezuela) the ELN looks on the FARC with disdain, and the confrontations between them have been horrible,” he added. “What they are looking for are windows of opportunity, trying to put a good face on their crimes and, of course, deceive the unwary,” he specified. The FARC, with between 7,000 and 11,000 members, is the oldest guerrilla group in the country, with forty-five years of armed struggle, and is the one against which President Álvaro Uribe’s government has directed the greatest military efforts aimed at putting an end to the groups. The ELN is the second most important guerrilla group and is currently estimated to have no more than 3,000 members.
A Russian citizen, convicted of acting as a foreign agent in the United States, landed in Moscow a day after she was released from a federal prison in Florida and deported.Maria Butina, 30, maintains her innocence despite pleading guilty last year to conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government for attempting to infiltrate conservative political groups, including the National Rifle Association, and promote Russian interests.She was sentenced to 18 months in prison in December and has been in custody since her arrest on July 15, 2018.Butina was released from the Tallahassee Federal Correctional Institution on Friday after having served more than 15 months behind bars, according to the US Federal Bureau of Prisons, and was immediately deported to Moscow.She landed in the Russian capital at around 11:30 a.m. local time (4:30 a.m. ET) on Saturday.“In a short comment to Russia state-funded TV network RT, which had a crew on board the Miami-Moscow flight, Butina thanked Russia for the support shown to her while in custody,” CNN reports“Well guys, almost home. Only a little bit left, only several hours. Thank you for your support. I can’t wait (for) the plane to land, when I’ll be in my homeland,” Butina said.Butina studied at American University in Washington, while in the US, and was the first Russian citizen convicted of crimes relating to the 2016 election.Related content:Overstock CEO Resigns Amid “Deep State” Comments and Affair With Russian Spy