At first, the July issue of Modern Baking seemed to contain clashing content with its Annual Leadership Awards and its ingredient pricing article, “Bakers navigate the perfect storm.”
Every year, Modern Baking selects leading bakeries that excel in each of the seven key areas that make up a successful bakery business. The articles are short reads with a more personal, light-hearted tone. This year, however, another story has emerged above all others: the skyrocketing bakery ingredient prices and their unprecedented challenge to bakery profitability. The first in a series of in-depth articles Modern Baking is doing on the subject begins on page 34. The article is a lengthy, somewhat complicated read with a serious tone.
So which one gets the cover? The annual awards or the story of the year? The answer is both. We found out they don't clash. When we dug into it, the two stories are so interwoven that they ended up complementing one another to make a pretty powerful July issue, if you don't mind me saying.
The ingredients crisis permeated every one of our interviews with the Leadership Awards winners, whether we brought it up or not. After all, the ingredients you use to produce your products ultimately effect every business decision you make in the bakery, either directly or indirectly.
One of Modern Baking's 2008 Leadership Awards for Industry Service went to Richard Reinwald, owner of Reinwald's Bakery, Huntington, N.Y. He has long been an advocate for retail bakeries, serving on RBA's board of directors for years and will be president next year. This year, Rich testified in front of Congress on the high cost if ingredients and the ethanol problem. He became a spokesman for the entire baking industry and small business owners in the food sector everywhere, and we at Modern Baking can't think of a better representative.
In interviewing Rich for his Leadership Award article, he brought up a few points that made me laugh, of course, but also ponder the future of the retail baker.
Rich said one of the senators expressed hope that all the publicity helped business at the bakery. “I told him, ‘Yeah, I just went on national television telling everybody how high my prices are.’”
Rich also expressed his passion for retail baking. “What I do in my bakery affects my product tomorrow. I'd hate to lose that personal touch with the product and the customer,” he said. “If the flour crisis continues, you're going to lose a lot of retail bakeries. I don't want to see the retail bakery industry represented only at historic villages like Williamsburg.”
There likely will be a shake out of retail bakeries. We're probably right in the middle of it. But, with Rich and other industry leaders with his passion for baking at the helm, the retail baker is in no way down for the count. Congratulations to Rich and the rest of Modern Baking's 2008 Leadership Award winners.