LAS VEGAS — The Independent Bakers Association held “Bakers Rise Above” during the International Baking Industry Exposition (I.B.I.E.), held Oct. 6-9 in Las Vegas.
At the open-panel group session bakers from across the country were asked, “What keeps you up at night?” Bakers shared vexing, on-going difficulties and discussed different solutions or ideas. Allied industry businesses also contributed to the conversation with questions. Kirk O’Donnell, vice-president of education at AIB International, Manhattan, Kas., moderated the meeting with interjecting echoes from audience members.
Bakers from Washington, D.C., to Portland, Ore., raised concerns about equipment energy efficiency, labor turnover and retention, conflicting regulations from city and state agencies, and challenges in strategic planning in the changing baking industry. In a segment debating the struggles with employment retention, one baker offered alternative shift management with overtime opportunities as a solution.
Mr. O’Donnell shared the initiatives of AIB to recruit new military service veterans into baking businesses. Many agreed that national immigration policy stands as a roadblock to a pool of individuals with strong work ethics.
Other issues examined at the I.B.A. meeting included the ever-increasing energy usage of baking equipment and accurate nutrition facts of wheat products. Despite currently low energy costs, baking equipment consumes higher levels of energy, which leaves bakers searching for more efficient automated systems.The Wheat Foods Council and the Grain Foods Foundation also shared continuing efforts to correct consumer misconceptions about the nutritional value of bread products.