The Annual General Meeting of the London and South East Milling Society took place on a warm October evening in central London.
Dozens of representatives from mills across the UK attended the event which was held in the impressive headquarters of NABIM – the National Association of British and Irish Millers – in Arlington Street, Piccadilly.
The evening began with thanks for the all the activities which took place in 2018 including a visit by the group to company Bühler.
Treasurer of LSEMS David Ferns said: “It has been a great year with great support from across the industry.”
Mr Ferns added LSEMS was a sound financial state and the group was able to keep the subscriptions at £40.
“The accounts are safe and secure,” he said.
The itinerary for the rest of 2018 and 2019 was outlined starting with the Christmas Fair at Arlington Street on December 11 and a theme of international fayre. On February 12 a celebration of Chinese New Year will be held at a restaurant to be arranged.
On March 12 there will be a talk by Sam Millar, Quality Director at Warburtons, which will also take place at 21 Arlington Street in London.
The Summer Technical Conference for LSEMS will take place on a date in June at a venue to be decided and then in September the group will go on a trip to Jaguar Landrover in Solihull, followed by a visit to the National Motor Museum. This also takes place on a date to be confirmed.
LSEMS then welcomed their new president: James Palmes who is managing director of Malcolm Ross & Sons, technical yarns specialists based in Stockport, Manchester.
Malcolm Ross supplies technical yarn to millers.
“I am extremely pleased and honoured to be elected President. I want to attract millers from across all sectors of milling – we have two new millers on the LSEMS committee with us tonight so I see we have already started to do that.”
Outgoing President Nick Hinton wished his successor all the best and said he had left LSEMS in a healthier position than it was when he took over.
Mr Hinton said: “I think we have done quite well – the industry is shrinking but membership numbers are good.”
He added there was a genuine shortage of youngsters coming into milling.
The main speaker was the new president of NABIM – George Marriage who gave an impassioned speech about the state of milling in the UK.
He spoke about his plans to extend the communication arm of NABIM.
He praised the work of NABIM and said it was particularly important in preventing contamination of raw materials used in the flour milling process.
NABIM has advised the Food Standards Agency about the impact of mycotoxins, heavy metals and mineral oils on raw materials.
“The Food Standards Agency will listen to what we have to say,” he said.
He also spoke about the important role NABIM plays in training and education saying it was a model other sectors could follow.
A distance learning course run by NABIM had been accessed by 40 per cent of the milling industry with 10 per cent of those going on to take advanced exams with NABIM.
He said NABIM had overseen a 25 per cent increase in productivity over the past 10 years.
“We are in an industry where people feel valued – this is a great association,” he said.
Mr Marriage also spoke of the need for the milling industry to attract young people.
“It is not easy – many people will only remember Dusty Miller – but hopefully with increased communication we can attract more young people.”
The floor was thrown open for questions from the audience and it began with one of the millers asking when gluten was going to be seen in a good light again.
Mr Marriage said: “It is very difficult to counter this – how are we going to bring gluten into the good side of things again, I don’t know it is not easy.”
He was also asked about ancient grains and he said: “I think they are called ancient grains for a reason.”
After his speech he awarded the NABIM Gold Medal to Liz Fowles for her thesis on the identification of wheat.
It was only the second time the gold medal had been awarded in the past three years.
Liz, who works for Heygates in Northamptonshire said she had worked long and hard on her thesis.
“It is nice to have your hard work acknowledged,” she said.