Full slate at ASB

by Laurie Gorton
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ASB BakingTech 2016

Insight from a baking industry change-maker greeted opening session attendees to the American Society of Baking’s (ASB) annual meeting and BakingTech 2016, held Feb. 27-March 1 at the Hilton Chicago. William Toler, president and CEO of Hostess Brands LLC, Kansas City, MO, described the excitement in the sweet snack category, a $7 billion market.

“Snacking trends are good, with almost twice the growth opportunity of other packaged goods,” Mr. Toler said. He quoted recent market statistics that reported 3.6% combined annual growth rate (CAGR) for snacks vs. 2.1% for food products overall. “And this is a category described by my two favorite words, ‘expandable consumption.’ People make six to eight snack choices a day.”

The opening session also offered a celebration of the 2016 inductees to the ASB Baking Hall of Fame: M. Robert (Bob) Albers, Franz Bakery; Joseph Baker and Jacob Perkins, Baker Perkins Ltd.; Pat Callaghan, Pepperidge Farm; and John Shellenberger, PhD, Kansas State University. The Robert A. Fischer award, kept secret until announced, was presented to Jim Diver of Dunbar Systems.

With 2016 activities directed by ASB Chairman Ramon Rivera, vice-president, operations, Bimbo Bakeries USA, Horsham, PA, and a program chaired by Mark Hotze, vice-president, North America, Corbion Caravan, sessions examined a wide range of market, technology and processing topics.

Wheat’s future came in for scrutiny during a general session organized and moderated by Theresa Cogswell, Bakercogs, that examined traditional and GMO breeding techniques, along with ways to use advanced technology to improve wheat quality. Technical sessions covered clean-label enzymes, non-PHO emulsifiers, water chemistry, oven profiling, dust mitigation and AIB International’s new kill step validation model to assist with Food Safety Modernization Act compliance.

Market conditions came in for examination, with a call from Julie Miller Jones, PhD, St. Catherine University, for the industry to improve its communication efforts with better social media content and more targeted messages.

The program committee decided to give attendees a hands-on examination of a potential new tool for process and equipment troubleshooting: virtual reality. Two sessions simulating this experience were offered.

ASB extended a product development competition to students. A team from Kansas State University won with Blueberry Oatmeal Focaccia Breakfast Squares. Other finalists represented University of Massachusetts in Amherst and Cornell University. Intralox received the 2016 Innovation Award in operational excellence for its Direct Drive system.

MarketPlace Table Tops again proved popular. Kent Van Amburg, ASB’s executive director, cited an increase in the number of exhibitors as well a new location within the hotel.

Incoming ASB Chairman Mario Somosa, president and CEO of Pan Pepin, Bayamon, PR, described ASB as the “largest talent pool in the baking industry.” He promised a 2017 program emphasizing diversity in training, company cultures, logistics, technology, communications and leadership. The society’s call for papers opens in April.
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