Providing Leadership for Industry’s Greater Good
Paul Abenante
President & CEO
American Bakers Association
The hallmark of the American Bakers Association (ABA) rests on the simple premise that a strong and unified industry group can achieve more meaningful results for the greater good of the industry than any individual company can achieve on its own. As we move into the final months of 2005, I believe that the past year has exemplified this premise, its mission and objectives more than any time in our recent past.
Not too long ago (maybe six to 12 months), each of us would use the word “Atkins” multiple times a day, for reasons that are all too familiar. Now, following the impressive mobilization of the baking and milling industries, we find ourselves with a new public relations and communications resource, the Grain Foods Foundation. The foundation is off to a tremendous start in promoting the nutritional virtues of grain-based foods, which has, for the first time, put our industry in a proactive position. “Atkins” is no longer part of our daily nomenclature (thank God!)
We can all be proud of the newly formed Grain Foods Foundation, but we must remember that the level of industry leadership and participation that helped give birth to this organization will require an even greater level of leadership and involvement to keep the foundation growing and strengthening. The achievements of the Grain Foods Foundation thus far are outstanding and have gone a long way toward dispelling dietary myths and misinformation regarding grain-based foods.
Again, it was not so long ago (perhaps 10 months) that the U.S. departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services promulgated the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, reinforcing our industry’s messages to consumers and reaffirming the broad nutritional value of grain-based foods. The substantial research, grounded by sound science, by the baking and milling industry and the timely submission of industry data was critically important to the end result, much to the greater good of the grain-based foods community. This proved to be a successful and credible approach that was well-received by government officials.
From any vantage point, our industry truly has weathered sizeable storms over the past few years, and now we are on course with wonderful opportunities for the future. Our political environment still has a favorable, pro-business majority, but it again will be challenged in the 2006 elections. Each year, we write about the next election as being “the most important.” Well, they all are important, and next year will be no exception.
As of this writing, we are in the aftermath, cleanup and restoration of so many of our towns and cities that were destroyed by the destructive forces of recent hurricanes. Citizens and businesses throughout the United States came to the aid of the needy, and I want to take this opportunity to thank the members of ABA for their unselfish support of the hurricane victims during their time of crisis.
ABA also moved swiftly into action to lift government restrictions on sugar supplies in response to industry needs. We could not have achieved this success without the boundless support of ABA members and their tireless reinforcement of our lobbying efforts — our sincere thanks.
ABA truly is an organization that understands and exists to serve the greater good of the baking industry — it’s not just a slogan, it’s a reality!
On a personal note, most of you know that I have decided to take early retirement at the end of this year. This article will be my last for this publication as president and CEO of ABA. I hope I have the chance to express my views about the industry again after I move outside the Beltway. But before I close, I would like to thank the publishers and the editor of Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery for their tremendous support of ABA and for their passion to promote grain-based foods. Their professionalism and fairness is something I have always appreciated, and I personally want to say thank you.
For more information on the ABA, visit or call 202-789-0300.