A breath of spring air never used to mean trying to catch your breath during spring, but with the flurry of activities in the snack and baking industries lately, you’ll need to take a minute to stop and breathe. Spring means plenty of baking conferences and gatherings, snack food shows and meetings and lots more.

At the end of February, our Associate Editor, Romy Schafer, and I, reviewed all of the new products we published in the magazine in 2012 and listed our 10 favorites on www.snackandbakery.com. These hot products were chosen from numerous snack foods and bakery items we covered all year, based on originality, great packaging and great taste.

Website visitors voted for their choices and by Feb. 28 came up with Nonni’s Foods Biscotti Salted Caramel as number-one, with 52% of the votes. Thanasi Foods’ BIGS Hidden Valley Ranch-flavored sunflower seeds came in second, with 28% of the votes, and Sister Schubert’s Sweet Hawaiian Rolls from Sister Schubert’s Homemade Rolls, Luverne, Ala., garnered 10% of the votes. All of the results can be found on www.snackandbakery.com, so take a look and send us items for 2013!

A top event in baking was BakingTech 2013, hosted by the American Society of Baking (ASB), Swedesboro, N.J. Baking industry professionals gathered in Chicago’s Marriott Downtown, March 3-5, to experience “The Best Week in Baking” as well as the (Baking Equipment Manufacturers and Allieds) BEMA Winter Summit two days earlier.

The theme, “Plant the Seed, Knowledge, Opportunity & Growth,” basically encouraged bakers and allieds to pass on the torch to younger generations and continue to further the industry. MarketPlace exhibits showcased a wide array of products and services in the grain-food-based industry. Guest speaker Urban Meyer, former football player and head coach of the Ohio State University Buckeyes, talked about how football teams are similar to business teams, relaying several humorous life lessons, and discussed different parts of a team.

This year’s Baking Hall of Fame reception on March 4 honored three individuals with the prestigious distinction for their contributions to the baking industry. Joining 48 past inductees were the late Ernest Nickles of Alfred Nickles Bakery, the late Willis Clark Pulver, founder of Pulver Systems, and Torahiko Hayashi, founder of Rheon Automatic Machinery. Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery congratulates the 2013 inductees and their families. (For more details about the inductees, visit our website, www.snackandbakery.com under Industry News.)

SNAXPO, the 76th edition of the Snack Food Association’s expo and conference for the international snack food industry, held March 16-19 in Tampa, Fla., featured a jam-packed program starting with the 13th Annual Latin American Education Track, delivered in Spanish. The program allowed attendees to meet snack food industry executives from Latin America and discuss industry issues affecting the Latin American snack food market.

Tucker Carlson, a FOX News contributor and editor of The Daily Caller, keynoted the event with lively, humorous commentary about today’s political landscape. An innovative discussion panel also highlighted new products that will help transform the snack food industry.

The exhibits showcased more than 130 suppliers of processing and packaging equipment, food ingredients and other products and services for the snack food industry.

And this year, the Tortilla Industry Association (TIA), Arlington, Va., is rotating the dates of its annual convention and conference. It will hold its 2013 Convention & Trade Exposition next month, May 10-11, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, while the tech seminar will be held on Oct. 5-6, in conjunction with the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

In this issue, we’re featuring some of the offerings at the upcoming TIA convention and expo within our special Tortilla Trends section. Also in Tortilla Trends is a letter to the industry from TIA president, Jim Kabbani, and our feature covering a visit to Festida Foods. Festida is growing rapidly in the Union Station Industrial Park in Grand Rapids, Mich., with the  installation of a tortilla chip manufacturing line that’s doubling its chip-making capacity. So catch a breath to enjoy the spring fling of events.