Baking & Snack - August 2018 - 139

Meeting Preview


American Bakers Association revamped its Technical Conference
from top to bottom for more in-depth cookie, cracker training.
by Karlee Renkoski


Going on 93 years, the American Bakers Association
(ABA) Technical Conference strives to create a customizable, educational event for its attendees - "your education,
your experience, your conference."  To be held Oct. 28-31 at
Hyatt Regency Indianapolis in Indianapolis, the event has
also been transformed to have an interactive focus that will
better address educational needs across all expertise levels
in cookie, cracker and other bakery productions.
Previously, the conference had six educational sessions,
but this year ABA has upped that to 15. Driven by attendee
feedback, these breakouts will cover a variety of topics, including manufacturing solutions, preventive controls, inplant safety and sanitation standards. "We've moved away
from one-way lectures and are facilitating discussions,"
said Vanessa Vial, assistant director of education, ABA.
"Through this core training experience, attendees will instead be active participants, which is critical to learning,
retention and understanding." Designed with different skill
sets in mind, attendees can select the sessions most relevant
to their day-to-day responsibilities.
The conference's hands-on workshop explores cookie
ingredients and their functions as well as how to troubleshoot common baking misconceptions. "What happens
when not all the flour drops from the scales into the mixer?
Did we use a new lot code of shortening? Was it too soft?
Understanding the function of major ingredients is fundamental in troubleshooting many problems and reducing
costs," Ms. Vial explained.
To further enhance active participation, IncuBAKER, a

team-led session, will make its debut. Groups will be given an industry-related issue and a "solutions roadmap" to
brainstorm and create a final proposal to share with their
bakery's management. "Think 'escape room meets Shark
Tank meets the baking industry.' This will be a one-of-akind experience," Ms. Vial said.
This year's all-star lineup includes Erin Sharp, group vicepresident of manufacturing for The Kroger Co., Cincinnati,
and chair of ABA, to discuss employee engagement and
supporting emerging leaders. Sally Lyons Wyatt, executive
vice-president and practice leader of client insights, IRI will
also be delivering an update on consumer trends and how
that will impact the industry. Motivational speaker Randy
Fox will give an interactive keynote called Game Plan: How
the Best Team Wins. This presentation will discuss Mr.
Fox's 20 years as an NCAA official and topics such as failure
and getting along with coworkers and clients.
The conference will include expert panels, tabletop exhibits, product displays and networking opportunities that
have been popular since the days when it was hosted by
the Biscuit & Cracker Manufacturers' Association, which
merged with ABA last year. This year, a bakery visit will
return to the lineup. Attendees can tour Kroger Bakery to
learn about the facility and see its operations in real time.
"The ABA Technical Conference is adjusting to meet
evolving industry needs while staying true to the fundamentals and spirit of the Technical Conference," said Robb
MacKie, president and CEO, ABA. For more information
and to register, visit


Left: ABA added nine
educational sessions,
which will incorporate
increased member
Right: Tabletop exhibits
and product displays
provide networking
American Bakers Association / August 2018 Baking & Snack 139

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