August 1, 2004
by Dan Malovany
It’s been a long time since I heard a baker give as passionate of a speech as Gary Prince did at the American Bakers Association’s membership meeting during Baking Expo in August.
The last time I heard someone in the industry get that emotional was when I was standing next to a baker watching his plant burn down.
Actually, Prince, who is ABA chairman and president of Weston Foods, gave a highly motivating speech on why the baking industry needs to pull together and support the new Foundation for the Advancement of Grain Based Foods.
For those who don’t know, the foundation is an industry effort started by the bakers and millers to counter carb bashing and promote the benefits of baked goods. The comprehensive public-relations campaign will debut in October and hit consumers big-time early next year. See our IBIE coverage (page 12) for more details.
Prince urged the industry that it had no choice but to ante up.
“If we don’t do it, who will? What’s the alternative? If we don’t invest in our industry, who will? Who will?” he asked. “If we don’t communicate our stories, who will? If we don’t lead, who will?”
Prince then urged the group to go out to the Las Vegas Convention Center and begin recruiting bakers, one by one, to support the foundation. The baking industry, he added, cannot afford to be weak and divided. Consumers needed to know that — as the foundation’s slogan states — “Bread. It’s Essential.”
“I believe we should set our sights high,” Prince said. “I do not believe we should limit our efforts. If we do not set our sights high, we will fail, and our industry will continue to struggle.”
He noted that the program is no short-term effort. In fact, the foundation sent out requests to the industry asking bakers and suppliers to commit to three-year pledges in support of the effort.
“This is no small undertaking,” Prince concluded. “It is a very important undertaking, and I believe again, as a group, that we can make a difference. Bread is essential. We have a great story. Let’s tell it. It’s time that we tell it.”
To help the foundation get the message out, Prince told the audience that Weston was doubling its contribution to the foundation.
Shortly afterwards, he announced that Daniel Servitje, CEO of Grupo Bimbo, told him that his company was doubling down as well. Then, BEMA, the baking industry supplier, presented the foundation with a $200,000 check.
Yes, these folks are putting their money where their mouths are. For those who didn’t attend the meeting, the question is, “Will you follow suit?”
Isn’t it time to bet on the industry that has put the bread and butter on your table for all of these years?