Craig Neale has a unique perspective as both a farmer and supplier to the baking industry. Here, Craig Neale shares his insights on how the current drought has affected farming, flourmills and bakers.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up in the farming district of Naracoorte in South Australia. It was a no-frills childhood. My time was divided between the local bushland and helping my parents with the countless chores that come with rural life. With my mother milling her own flour in that old farmhouse and dad’s passion for farming I think, for me, the die was cast relatively early. I have always had a keen interest in innovation and challenging the market place. Professionally, I’ve always tried to foster an attitude of continual improvement in everything we do here at Wholegrain Milling.
In what ways has the drought affected farming, the flour industry and, finally, bakers and consumers?
You don’t have to go far here to see the effects this drought is having on individual farming communities and agriculture in a wider sense. It’s an extremely challenging time for us all and the reduced yields and resulting high commodity prices are being felt by all stakeholders in the industry. You can only focus on your own processes and hope to come out of it stronger, but at no point has it weakened my resolve.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve witnessed in farming and the flour industry since your career began?
The ever-increasing use of chemical and synthetic fertilisers in intensive farming practises. This makes us more determined to push the organic and sustainable systems in creating ethical products.
What’s a typical day for you?
Rising early; this is the best time for innovative thought.
I like to be part of the start-up of the mills every morning. Despite the increasing amount of lab testing we do onsite, the sensory analysis of the flour at the start of each run, the feel, look and aroma, that’s still the most satisfying part of my day. My time is equally split between the mill and the office. I get a lot of pleasure out of physical work, and it’s important to me to keep connected with the process.
What do you love most about your job?
Our team’s ethics and values in what we do really make Wholegrain Milling an inspiring place to come to work each day. I enjoy the challenges of the industry, even when it is tough, as it inspires innovative practises and a constant need to evolve as a business.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I have a fear of failure and as a result am always looking to the future to try and be a step ahead of the game.
What have been some of your career highlights?
Pioneering organic stoneground flours. The introduction of the sustainable range of flours with the creation of ASP certified farming systems.
What do you enjoying doing in your spare time?
Exercising, I find this offers valuable mental stimulation.
What are you looking forward to in 2019?
Accomplishing targets and goals both personally and professionally while continuing to gain the respect of my peers.