by Paul Abenante President & CEO American Bakers Association
As of this writing, the International Baking Industry Exposition was only four weeks ago. It certainly seems a long time ago in one respect, but only yesterday when you look at how much industry momentum was created by such a successful event.
I’m sure you will agree that having such a successful show in the middle of August in Las Vegas is a testimony to the strength of the industry and its intended investment in the future.
Now, we’re entering one of the most exciting times for the baking industry. First, the American Bakers Association again has received a tremendous renewal of memberships from all sectors of the industry. In addition, just after IBIE ended, there was the official launch of the Grain Foods Foundation, which is rolling out an exciting public-relations program to promote the consumption of grain-based products. Of course, there’s also the upcoming Presidential election season.
All of these events are enormous and certainly historical from many perspectives, and the fact that all three were slated to occur within 90 days of one another is overwhelming by any standard.
The leadership role that ABA has played in each area is a direct result of the financial, personal and corporate support of the association’s members, who have articulated clearly the direction they want to go in the future and set a direction that will prove to be fruitful in the years ahead.
It is significant to note that our financial resources for this election reached an all-time high and has allowed ABA to play an even greater role in this year’s election. Likewise, our “plant visitation” program has proved to be extremely effective in communicating key issues of the industry to Congressional candidates, raising the awareness of the industry to future policymakers.
Our issues, as we enter the fall season, are numerous and will continue to demand solid credible responses from all sectors of our industry. I can assure you that your support of our committees will be the backbone of our success.
Briefly, here are some critical issues that you need to be aware of in the immediate future. First, the government is exploring changes in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines and possibly making graphic alterations to replace the Food Guide Pyramid. Second, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will probably revisit serving sizes in light of the new dietary guidelines.
Third, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will take serious looks at food labeling and child advertising, especially in light of the obesity issue. Fourth, food companies need to closely monitor implementation of the newly passed allergen legislation.
No doubt, health care also will be front and center in the new Congress. Additionally, changes could come in the Department of Transportation (DOT) trucking delivery regulations, specifically concerning hours of service. There is even considerable discussion that the Congress will address comprehensive pension law reform.
In addition to addressing these issues, ABA will continue to work closely with new environmental public policy initiatives. Our technical committee also will carry on an effective dialogue with USDA Wheat Quality Labs and work closely with other related organizations to issue a grain-based food collaborative effort and awareness program.
I can’t think of a more important industry initiative to support than the success of the new foundation. I’m sure you will agree that consumers’ acceptance and understanding of the value of grain-based foods is paramount to our future.
The operation and support of the new organization will take considerable financial resources at a time when the industry is being challenged on several fronts.
As difficult as the present business environment may be for our industry, this is no time to take your foot off the accelerator! It is critically important to recognize the need for the foundation and to support its long-term success. If you haven’t done so already — it’s time to make a pledge.
ABA will continue to work tirelessly to support and serve the industry’s interest. I know that its chairman, Gary Prince, will continue to provide tremendous leadership to the challenges ahead, and with your involvement, we can continue to do those things that are an investment in the future of grain-based foods. For more information about ABA, visit www.americanbakers.org.
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