From meetings, conventions and other industry events, editor-in-chief Lauren R. Hartman recaps her busy weeks in baking.

This year’s Winter Summit, produced by the Baking Equipment Manufacturers and Allieds (BEMA), Overland Park, Kan., immediately followed by BakingTech 2011, hosted by the American Society of Baking (ASB), Swedesboro, N.J., were truly the Best Week in Baking. Both held in Chicago in early March, the networking conferences invited participants to make more connections, visit with old and new contacts, customers and colleagues and share knowledge, ideas and experiences through technical sessions, receptions, luncheons, presentations and ceremonies. If you haven’t been to these kinds of events, you must try to go next time.

The Winter Summit included an enthusiastic Think Tank roundtable, asking for feedback and improvements to the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) show. BEMA’s conference also featured a powerful lineup of speakers that drove home great stories about beating some of the toughest challenges in life. There were presentations on social responsibility auditing and a supermarket panel that discussed new needs and goals of in-store bakeries.

A most informative session on the BISSC/ANSI standard update was given by Gale Prince of Gale Prince and Associates, while Jennifer Frankenberg of Sage Food Safety Commission, who discussed where bakers stand regarding the food safety regulation updates and gave visitors a perspective on the plans to improve the standards and practices.

The ASB meetings were packed, especially the afternoon breakout sessions, which included presentations on everything from sustainability to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Energy Star programs for bakeries to building a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) bakery as well as trends in food safety systems and equipment technologies sessions, clean label strategies, ingredients/formulation, artisan/ethnic baking, dietary fiber, resistant starch, sodium reduction, regulations and safety and sanitary design.

This year’s theme at ASB, “Nourishing for Generations,” really hit home, as it showcased the proud heritage of the industry with vintage and antique artifacts of baking tools, old-time products and signs and other assorted memorabilia placed around the main meeting room at Chicago’s Marriott Hotel. ASB chairman Rowdey Brixey presented the annual Baking Hall of Fame inductees and the Robert A. Fisher distinguished service award.

James Apple of Butter-Krust Baking Co., Sanbury, Pa.; E.E. Kelley of ButterKrust Bakery, Lakeland, Fla.; Ken Klosterman of Klosterman Baking Co., Cincinnati; and Alexander Weber of Caravan Products Co., Totowa, N.J., are the 2011 Baking Hall of Fame inductees (visit the Briefs section of our site,, for more information on the Hall of Fame members).

“Nourishing is defined as proving food or other substances necessary for life and growth and to foster the development of someone or something. Both definitions apply to BakingTech 2011,” Brixey says.
Ed Viesturs, a high-altitude mountaineer, gave a dramatic and vista-filled account of his mountain-climbing experiences and futurist and economist Lowell Catlett returned this year to provide a light-hearted approach to the economy. Visitors also swarmed the Marketplace tabletop exhibits, which were loaded with developments, products, demonstration videos, samples and plenty of exhibitor information.

At the end of March, the American Bakers Association (ABA), Washington, D.C., held their convention, titled “Enriching Bodies and Lives,” featured an interview with former Walmart chairman Lee Scott, who offered plenty of insight on Walmart’s business issues, growing productive supplier relationships and development of sustainability policies.

Commodity expert Jim Bower presented guidance on the commodities markets and a fortification panel moderated by our contributing writer, Judi Adams, president of Ridgway, Colo.-based Grain Foods Foundation and the Wheat Foods Council, stressed the importance of enhancing products with folic acid, B vitamins and enriching grains.

All in all, the busy month of March was a successful and productive one, and the ABA convention was a huge success as well, with an increase in attendance by 8%.