Mario Somoza, the new chairman of the American Society of Baking
Mario Somoza, the new chairman of the A.S.B. said “diversity” describes how the A.S.B. membership has changed.

CHICAGO — Quoting entrepreneur and publisher Malcolm Forbes, Mario Somoza, the new chairman of the American Society of Baking (A.S.B.), announced the theme of next year’s BakingTech conference will be “diversity,” defining it as “the art of thinking independently together.”

Speaking at the conference in Chicago on March 1, Mr. Somoza said “diversity” also describes how the A.S.B. membership has changed and how the annual technical conference has evolved over the years.

“What started out as a society of bakery engineers has become the largest talent pool in the baking industry, which now counts among its members individuals in the sales and marketing field, research and development personnel, operations and logistics executives, top-level managers and students in the food technology, grain and baking sciences, among others,” he noted. “What once was a membership comprised of people baking bread and rolls primarily, today includes a wide variety of products, including sweet snacks like cakes, cookies and donuts; salty snacks like crackers and pretzels; tortillas; nutrition bars, and dozens more.”

Mr. Somoza, president and chief executive officer of Pan Pepin, Bayamon, Puerto Rico, observed that Mr. Forbes’ definition of diversity echoes the words of A.S.B.’s vision statement, which is “educating, communicating and sharing knowledge for the enhancement of our members and the industry.”

In recent months, he noted, the A.S.B. board has met to outline the challenges and opportunities facing the industry and identified five key drivers of change. Those include technology’s influence on consumers and production, globalization, health and nutrition trends, legislation and regulation in regard to food safety, and millennials in the workplace.

“Identifying the drivers is the easy part,” Mr. Somoza explained. “The challenge is in designing the strategies and tactics that will allow us to turn them into drivers of growth, but I have no doubt that with the collective knowledge and experience in our membership base, we will once again rise to the challenge.”

The A.S.B.’s next BakingTech runs Feb. 26-28, 2017, in Chicago.