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.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A Lloyd Harbor village police officer accused of attacking a 64-year-old man in Massapequa last month remains on active duty while his case is pending in Nassau County criminal court, authorities said.Dennis Guariglia pleaded not guilty Wednesday at First District Court in Hempstead to harassment, a violation punishable by up to 15 days in jail, one year of probation and a $250 fine. The 35-year-old Kings Park man surrendered to Nassau police, who issued him a summons on April 22, court records show.“Due to the fact that it was a violation, he is still on active duty,” Lloyd Harbor Village Police Chief Charles Flynn told the Press. He confirmed that the department, which has a staff of about 13, is conducting an internal investigation, but declined further comment.Nassau police said in court documents that Guariglia was off-duty, driving his Jeep Grand Cherokee on Veterans Boulevard near the Long Island Rail Road station when he honked at Nicholas Caccavale, got out of his SUV, flashed his badge and pushed him at 12:23 a.m. April 5.Caccavale told investigators that he fell to the ground, hit his head and broke his glasses. He was treated at a local hospital for contusions to the back of his head and arm. His friend and girlfriend who witnessed the altercation confirmed his account to police, according to their statements.“I left the scene before police responded believing the incident was over,” Guariglia told a Seventh Squad detective. He admitted to Nassau police that he pushed Caccavale, but said that he did not see the victim fall.Caccavale and his friends disagreed with Guariglia’s account of what sparked the confrontation and who was the aggressor.Guariglia alleged that he honked twice at Caccavale for him and his friend to move out of his way, that one of them gave the officer the middle finger and the officer heard a thump as he drove passed, according to the officer’s statement. The officer said in the documents that when he got out of the truck, Caccavale “got up close to me,” smelled of alcohol and “was acting very aggressive.”A witness recalled Caccavale asking “what is he beeping at?” Caccavale, who turns 65 next week, said that Guariglia “called the victim a ‘retard’” before shoving him, according to the documents.Guariglia said in his statement that an LIRR worker “had to physically hold back the guy.” Caccavale’s girlfriend told police that the man was holding back Guariglia, not Caccavale. She added that when she saw her boyfriend on the ground with Guariglia standing over him, “it looked like he was going to hit Nicholas again,” according to her statement.Guariglia was released without bail after Judge Joy Watson issued a order of protection requiring Guariglia stay away from Caccavale. Guariglia is due back in court May 19. He earned $168,076 last year, records show.
The fund’s alternatives portfolio, which alongside its Chinese holdings comprise unlisted real estate, alternative credit and private equity funds, still returned 5.8% over the first six months of the year.During the period, the fund completed an overhaul of its strategic portfolio and investment model, boosting exposure to EM equity and local currency denominated debt.It also said the fund’s in-house team was now responsible for the management of its EM bond portfolio denominated in hard currencies, with external managers left to focus on those in local currencies.The half-yearly report added: “At the same time, the fund has changed the composition of its equities exposure in industrialised countries, reducing the GDP-weighted portfolio, choosing instead to invest in low-risk ‘minimum variance’ portfolios that offer optimum diversification, where exposure is inversely proportional to the equities risk.”Its Swedish and foreign equity portfolios returned 9.8% and 11%, respectively, while fixed income returned 6.5%.Overall, the fund saw returns of 7%, including management costs, significantly up from the 4.3% return for the same period in 2013.AP2 chief executive Eva Halvarsson also sought to prove the value of the current buffer fund system, echoing some of the sentiments expressed by her AP3 counterpart Kerstin Hessius.Halvarsson stressed that AP2 had more than doubled in value compared with the SEK134bn in seed capital granted to each of the four buffer funds.She added that justification for the proposed overhaul of the buffer fund system, now endorsed by the cross-party Pensionsgruppen, was “neither clearly stated nor convincingly argued”.The chief executive instead said changes to the buffer fund system’s investment guidelines should be introduced but without the restructuring of the system that would see ownership of the buffer fund assets transferred to a new agency and its principal.“The important thing is to implement changes in the way that benefits the pension system as a whole,” she said.“The negative consequences of conducting a comprehensive and protracted reorganisation are likely to far outweigh the benefits, proving not only costly but seriously increasing the operational risks for a long time ahead.” AP2 has overhauled its investment strategy in early 2014, growing emerging market (EM) exposure and transferring responsibility for nearly all such mandates from external asset managers to its in-house team.The Swedish buffer fund, which manages SEK280.3bn (€30.5bn) worth of assets, said in its half-yearly report that the changes came despite initial weak returns from its EM holdings during the first quarter.Nevertheless, it said its EM portfolio staged a “strong” recovery from March onwards but singled out its Chinese equity holdings for its negative returns.It said the value of its listed holdings in the country was now “very low”.