Baking & Snack - February 2021 - 99

SPECIAL REPORT
Meeting Preview

Strength Through the
ABA Convention to rally the industry around education and
connection as 2021 brings with it hope for a return to normal.
by Nico Roesler

┬ęsas - stock.adobe.com

T

The baking industry came together like never before in
2020 to feed a world stymied by a pandemic.
With vaccines being distributed, the industry is looking to the future, and the American Bakers Association
(ABA) is providing new ways to learn and connect as the
the storm clouds break and normalcy appears on the horizon. At the virtual ABA Convention, March 22-23, bakers will hear from a lineup of speakers and educators and
gather in new ways to face the next decade together.
" Relationships have always been an integral part of
the baking business, " said Robb MacKie, ABA's president
and chief executive officer. " Whether it's between bakers
or with their suppliers, customers and consumers, those
relationships are the beating heart of who we are as an
industry and as a community. Now, more than ever, industry leaders are seeking forums for B2B connections
to address the obstacles and opportunities they're facing,
and that is what the ABA Convention offers when we
bring the baking community together. "
This year's convention theme is " Believe in Bakery, "
and the educational sessions aim to inspire that belief.
The " #BakingStrong: The Power in Community " session will feature Brad Alexander, chief operating officer,
Flowers Foods, Thomasville, Ga., and ABA chair, and
immediate past chair Erin Sharp, group vice president,
manufacturing, The Kroger Co., Cincinnati. They will
reflect on the countless stories that have been shared
about ABA members supporting their industry colleagues, team members and communities.
Additionally, Baking & Snack partnered with ABA
to assess wholesale baker perceptions of the pandemic's
impact through an industry pulse survey conducted by
Cypress Research and sponsored by Lesaffre and Red Star
Yeast Co. The survey results will be presented to examine
where the industry was at the beginning of the pandemic,

how it adapted and the state of the industry now.
Marjorie Hellmer, president of Cypress Research, will
also lead an in-depth discussion with industry leaders
about implications of the survey findings. Insights will
be shared about how bakery manufacturers and their
supply chain partners are developing solutions to minimize the stresses of future unanticipated events and better position the industry for success.
ABA also recognizes that many traditions, habits and
ways of thinking changed in an instant in 2020. From
an increase in home baking to the high demand for prepackaged foods, consumers are moving away from entrenched ideas about baked goods. Vance Crowe, communications consultant and international speaker, will
help attendees understand the dynamics behind these
changes and what can be done to maintain the baking
category's momentum.
" Recognizing the accelerated change happening in the
baking landscape, the 2021 ABA Convention program is
more forward-looking and comprehensive than ever before, " Mr. MacKie said.
Two panel discussions will center on the future of the
industry. " Adapting and Innovating: The Omnichannel
Experience " will bring together grocery retail, foodservice, and bakery companies to share how they progressed to continue serving their customers and what
they anticipate for the year ahead. Another panel session, " The New Frontier of Bakery Manufacturing:
Emerging Technology and the Supplier Partnership, "
presented in partnership with BEMA, will examine how
bakeries can tap into technology and supplier partnerships to meet the changing demands of their consumers,
persistent workforce recruitment and retention challenges, and an evolving operating environment.
To learn more, visit americanbakers.org/convention.

*

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Baking & Snack - February 2021

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