Baking 2013: Never a fuller plate

by Josh Sosland
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Separate from the considerable challenges that confront bakers because of competitive market conditions, soft demand and a difficult commodity ingredient environment, it has become clear in recent days the industry faces a checklist of tasks for 2013 that is as daunting as at any time, perhaps ever. This challenge is particularly evident for the largest bakers, which after making significant strategic moves aimed at methodically and dramatically building their U.S. geographic footprints have had a new set of considerations thrust at them by the liquidation of Hostess Brands, Inc.

This development threatens to, at a minimum, strain the companies’ plans for methodical integration of their previous acquisitions but represents a uniquely important circumstance that cannot be ignored or deferred.

In addition to what is happening in the marketplace, baking now is grappling with proposed new federal government rules requiring food companies to develop and implement written plans to keep their products from causing food-borne illness. The rules are expected to create a significant regulatory burden for food companies, including bakers. When this rule is finalized, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue a proposal for revisions in labeling rules, representing what potentially is another costly change. All told, it is clear 2013 will be a busy year for baking.

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