Cautious optimism is a baker’s best friend

by Dan Malovany
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Many wholesale baking companies experienced a banner year in 2013 as they seized the opportunity and filled the void left by old Hostess Brands’ abrupt departure from the market in late 2012. In fact, several regional bakers experienced a “Wonder Year” with high double-digit growth in sales and volume as they took a once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity to expand geographically as well.

Despite the strength of the baking industry, issues remain in the bread aisle, cautioned Howard (Robin) Alton III, president and chief executive officer of Pan-O-Gold Baking Co., St. Cloud, Minn., and now immediate past chairman of the American Bakers Association.

“I think it masked a lot of issues that are still out there — issues that we had two years ago when I came in as chairman,” Mr. Alton said during A.B.A.’s recent annual convention. “We’re looking at declining consumption by consumers. That declining consumption is still out there — don’t kid yourself.”

In the end, cautious optimism is always a baker’s best friend.

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