ABA and its executive committee have selected more than a dozen key issues as its top priorities for 2009.


ABA and its executive committee have selected more than a dozen key issues as its top priorities for 2009.

Ranging from new federal dietary guidelines to commodity speculation reform, these critical issues now fall under three broader categories, namely food safety, food nutrition and food inflation.

In January, the American Bakers Association’s staff and its executive committee held a confab to determine how it will most effectively use its resources for the upcoming year. Relying on its various committees, ABA drew up a list of more than 70 issues, which were narrowed down based on their importance to the industry and the impact on the bottom line of its members.

In essence, the association created a road map for determining where to focus the majority of its efforts, says Kenneth “Chip” Klosterman, ABA chairman and president and CEO of Klosterman Baking, Cincinnati.

“It gave us a process at ABA to sift through all of these issues every year and prioritize annually,” he explains. “Policies seem to change from time to time. We now have a good mechanism to change with the times.”

For instance, under food safety, ABA will focus on the flurry of legislation introduced earlier this year following scandal involving the massive salmonella-tainted peanut recalls.

Under food nutrition, the association determined that the reworking of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines poses an opportunity to promote the benefits of folic acid and enriched and whole grains and to shy away from any good food/bad food debate, says Lee Sanders, ABA’s senior vice president, government relations and policy affairs.

Although the guidelines won’t take affect until late next year, an advisory committee plans to meet again in late April to continue to lay the groundwork on them. Sanders adds, that sodium and added sugar may be other issues that are brought up by the committee and could have a negative impact on snacks and baked goods.

In addition to the dietary guidelines, the School Lunch Reauthorization Program will be a high priority this year, says Robb MacKie, ABA president and CEO.

“The board felt these are areas where, if ABA doesn’t make a difference, nobody else will,” MacKie says.

Food inflation, he adds, is an umbrella category that includes those issues that can potentially raise the cost of doing business in the baking industry and eventually force companies to raise prices to cover these added expenses. In addition to commodities, which wreaked havoc on baking companies last year as the volatile prices of corn and wheat skyrocketed due to speculators, health care and the Employee Free Choice Act, better known as the “card check bill,” remain high on ABA’s list of priorities.