The 84th annual BakingTech conference, sponsored by the American Society of Baking (ASB) welcomed baking industry professionals to Chicago last month.
To open the conference, the lights dimmed and a film clip of a tsumani barreled across the screen to emphasize the topic on everyone's mind: how rising ingredient costs and limited supply are culminating in a commodity crisis tsunami. The wheat crisis and ethanol debate surfaced during several presentations throughout the conference.
Keynote speaker, Yossi Ghinsberg, author of the best selling novel, Laws of the Jungle, entertained the audience with his harrowing tale of survival in the Amazon jungle. His universal message of strength, hope and inspiration translates even to the baking industry where new obstacles, especially the commodity crisis, require bakers to persevere and overcome the odds.
The annual Hall of Fame initiation welcomed six new individuals (see sidebar) who overcame odds to make the baking industry what it is today.
Monday morning's technical sessions included presentations on lean manufacturing practices, effective management and leadership. Lean manufacturing is a management philosophy where companies use techniques to reduce waste and improve product flow and quality.
On Sunday and Monday afternoons, more than 180 suppliers showcased products and services at the ASB MarketPlace, where attendees had the opportunity to browse tabletops and network.
On Tuesday, attendees learned about food trends affecting the industry, most of which focus on health and wellness. Whole grains and fiber are being driven by consumer demand. Prebiotics and probiotics are finding their way from dairy foods into baked products. Demand for reductions in sugar, salt, calories and saturated fat, as well as for zero trans fat continue to dominate the industry.
Another session focused on advancements in mixing when efficiency is key. Optimal mix time is 6 to 8 min. Turbulent flow is important during the beginning of mixing but if it goes on too long, it could cause tearing, explained Ed Fay, CMC America Corp., Joliet, Ill. A lot of bakers mix to flow and not to peak development, he added. AIB is working on a system to read peak development as opposed to amperage.
One session provided information on food security, a problem garnering international attention following issues with Chinese ingredient exports.
In the session “Going Green in the Bakery,” bakers learned about sustainability, from estimating carbon footprints to examining alternative fuels. Other afternoon sessions focused on how to grow from a small to large bakery operation, and how to transition to natural and organic products.
Attendees had the chance to win an HDTV during several raffles and enjoyed Eli's Cheesecake at the wrap-up reception Tuesday evening.
ASB inducted six individuals into the baking industry's Hall of Fame.
“The selection of these six individuals represents a tribute to the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation across the industry,” said ASB Chairman George Poulos. “We all continue to prosper today because of the accomplishments of these individuals.”
The 2008 induction ceremony was held March 3, as part of BakingTech's opening ceremony. The six inductees are:
Samuel B. Thomas, Thomas' English Muffins/George Weston Bakeries
Charles T. Meyer, Meyer Family Bakeries
Charles Matthaei, Roman Meal
Otto Rohwedder, Inventor of the first bread slicing machine
Charles Fleischmann, Fleischmann's Yeast
Victor Marx, founder and first secretary (president) of ASB Engineers.
The Baking Hall of Fame is located at AIB International in Manhattan, Kan. Information on past inductees can be viewed online at bakinghalloffame.org.
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