Nabim’s new president praises UK millers’ efforts to address flour shortage during coronavirus

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

Roger Butler, Nabim's new president. Pic: Nabim
Roger Butler, Nabim's new president. Pic: Nabim

Related tags: NABIM, National Association of British and Irish Millers, flour shortage, coronavirus

The National Association of British and Irish Millers has announced a change in its executive board.

Carr’s Flour and Whitworth Bros chairman Roger Butler (59) – previously Nabim’s vice president – is taking over the reins from George Marriage.

The management transition comes as the UK flour industry continues to face unprecedented challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“UK millers have played a vital role in ensuring the supply of both commercial and retail flour supplies during the lockdown,”​ said Butler.

“At the same time, Nabim has also been working tirelessly behind the scenes to provide the invaluable support its members need during uncertain times.

“I am both proud and honoured to become president of an organisation that does so much to promote and protect everything that makes our industry special.”

The industry has been working around the clock to address UK flour shortage​ during recent months, as flour became one of the first products to be snapped up by consumers as they prepared for the lockdown – possibly because they knew they now have time to create their best baking sensations.

According to data from Ascential, roughly one third of all grocery products sold in the top UK four supermarkets contain flour, while Kantar reveals that 99.6% of all GB households purchase bread. (Kantar data).

However, thanks to the pandemic, Brits revived their love of baking at home, causing a shortage of flour in UK supermarkets and shops.

Moving up the ladder

Butler’s 45-year career in the milling industry began at the age of 14, working at a Cadge & Coleman mill in Peterborough during the school holidays sweeping floors and stacking 140lb sacks of flour.

“My father worked for Cadge & Colman, who mainly produced chapatti flour, so milling was in the blood and it was all I ever wanted to do,”​ he said.

“As a young lad, I learned the basics of the trade by working shifts during the school holidays, but I always knew that to progress in the industry I’d have to expand my horizons and see how it was done in other parts of the world.”

At 18, he emigrated first to Canada to work for Winnipeg-based Sooline Mills, then to Papua New Guinea before returning to the UK to take up a position as a senior technical miller with Henry Simon Milling Engineers in Stockport.

Butler spent 12 years with Robert Hutchison in Kirkcaldy before being appointed MD and subsequently chairman of Wellingborough-based Whitworth Bros.

“We are fortunate to have someone of Roger’s experience and drive as Nabim president, while the industry responds to the changes in demand and consumer behaviour brought about by the current crisis and the completion of our departure from the European Union,”​ added Alex Waugh, director general of Nabim.

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