From changing technology to workforce development, many issues will impact bakery operators in 2018.

KANSAS CITY — For any business, the new year presents opportunities and challenges. It’s how a company contends with those changes that sets them apart. In 2017, bakeries saw new mergers and acquisitions, tighter food safety standards and the passage of a pro-business tax bill. They also continued to struggle with workforce development issues and shifting consumer preferences. To help these food manufacturers better navigate the year ahead,Baking & Snackasked nine industry experts one question:
What is the future of bakery operations in 2018?Here is what they had to say.

Rowdy Brixey, president, Brixey Engineering, Inc.
Rowdy Brixey, president, Brixey Engineering, Inc.:
“I believe capital investments will require a stronger ROI to obtain approval, primarily driven by ingredient pricing. I also believe that turnover, talent constraints and a focus on reducing overhead will drive the industry toward reduced corporate staffing and more outsourced project management from specialized business partners. This practice would help reduce the cost of corporate overhead and force projects to be fully self-funding to gain necessary approvals.

I also believe talent retention will become a point of focus for many companies. It appears that some companies are known for finding and building talent, just to later have a company come along and snatch key individuals away with attractive offers or advancement positions. On the surface this doesn’t appear to be sustainable, and I believe it will drive an effort to retool talent management models of the past.”

Brian Strouts, vice-president of baking and food technical Services, AIB International
Brian Strouts, vice-president of baking and food technical Services, AIB International: 
“The year 2018 is going to look a lot like 2017. Bakeries will still be addressing regulatory issues like the Food Safety Modernization Act now that the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) has started conducting compliance inspections. Although the updated food labeling regulations have been postponed, the deadline now looms at the beginning of 2019, and companies will need to review their labels as definitions of added sugars and fibers are clarified by F.D.A. guidance. New issues like furfuryl alcohol in bakery products as part of Prop 65 in California will also add to the compliance issues for certain bakery manufacturers.”

Clay Miller, sales engineer at Burford Corp.
Clay Miller, sales engineer at Burford Corp. and second vice-chairman, American Society of Baking:
“Here at Burford Corp., we strive to look forward and focus on tailoring our product offerings based on trends and anticipated changes in the industry. A couple of the areas we feel will maintain the spotlight for the coming years are food safety and ROI-driven projects.

We push development on our spot deposit spraying systems and topping solutions to improve sanitation, decrease waste and increase savings. For instance, our most recent redesign on our spray applicator added quick release sanitary components throughout the fluid path to improve the sanitation process.  

We recently developed a bread line enrobing system to help meet the growing requests to retrofit existing lines with this capability. One of the main goals we tasked our engineers with was to make the sanitation process possible without tools.

These development projects must keep food safety at the top of the priority list in addition to being accompanied by a savings initiative that can justify the project within a short time span. It’s a tall task that all equipment manufacturers face but one that will continue to improve the industry as a whole.”

Cesar Zelaya, bakery sales and technology manager, Handtmann, Inc.
Cesar Zelaya, bakery sales and technology manager, Handtmann, Inc.:
“The demand for healthier — smaller portions, handheld foods, fewer calories, non-G.M.O. and gluten-free — products will likely climb during 2018. The baking kill step will remain a hot topic in the industry. More sophisticated and reliable tools to monitor the key parameters such as internal temperatures and dwell times — and the ability to record that critical data — will present new challenges not only for the bakers but also the industry suppliers. 

Bakers and food processors will continue to raise the bar for more hygienic equipment designs. Simpler and faster sanitation procedures from the equipment suppliers must be offered, and this is an area where Handtmann continues to invest resources. 

The current shortage of skilled workers in the industry — experienced bakers, line supervisors, maintenance technicians — and how to train and integrate the millenniums into the workforce might bring new challenges. Handtmann offers in-house training seminars for our customers and their key personnel involved in the day-to-day operation of our equipment. 

The interest in forming and extruding equipment to develop innovative 3-D shapes for sweet and savory bite sizes will grow. Handtmann has come out with our new generation of forming equipment FS520, increasing the options for our customers as far as different product shapes, sizes and weights.”

Ken Newsome, c.e.o., Markel Food Group
Ken Newsome, chief executive officer, Markel Food Group:
“There are three overarching factors that, in my view, will be driving this industry for many years. An increased global demand for baked products will need to be fulfilled. As per-capita incomes rise around the world, so will the desire for these foods. Suppliers will need to have a global footprint to support this demand. The increased demand for taste and texture variety in bakery products will need to be addressed. As consumers get smarter, they want more and more innovation in the product. As a result, production lines must become more flexible. Bakers will also need solutions that are more integrated or electronically connected than simply aggregating units from multiple suppliers.”

Mark Salman, president, Middleby Food Group
Mark Salman, president, Middleby Food Group:
“As a former baker and current equipment manufacturer, I see a wide variety of trends affecting the baking industry. Within the industry, I believe there will be more consolidation, improved profitability, newcomers with cleaner, simpler and more global product concepts, and higher pricing per pound for baked goods. The merging of cooking and baking industries, as we get closer to the point of consumption, will blur lines for food producers. In the plants, we will see continuous investment in new facilities and production lines, a tougher labor market requiring more automation, increased use of robotics, and lower operating costs.” 

Eric Riggle, president, Rademaker USA, Inc.
Eric Riggle, president, Rademaker USA, Inc.:
“The future of bakery operations in 2018 will focus on efficiency. Such improvements will be multi-faceted with an eye on labor, raw materials, production and downtime, and the ultimate goal will be waste reduction. Not wasting critical resources such as raw materials and labor are obvious, but let’s not forget the most precious resource of all: time.    

The successful bakery will be the one that does more with its 24 hours. How do you crank out more product in that time, and, more importantly, how do you efficiently minimize waste? How do you make more time available for streamlined production? Bakery processes will be analyzed, and decisions made on answering these questions.

As an equipment manufacturer, Rademaker has or is developing equipment that can run longer between planned shutdowns and can also be maintained during production to prevent unplanned shutdowns.  Design features such as tooling that’s simple and intuitive to set up at product changeover will make more time available to produce, and lines that are wider and faster can make more product with the same fixed costs.    

Lastly, partnerships between bakers and equipment manufactures will work toward these goals, and the long-term cost of ownership models will lead to mutual success for both parties.”

John McIsaac, vice-president, strategic business development, Reiser
John McIsaac, vice-president, strategic business development, Reiser:
“Bakery operations in 2018 are going to be exciting. We at Reiser, like many equipment suppliers, are motivated by great competition. We will be introducing innovations to divide a greater variety of bakery products with very gentle handing and precise scaling. Our customers will be motivated by tight margins and ever-increasing demands for versatility from their equipment. We will tailor our offerings to these needs. We also recognize that limited downtimes and high demands on equipment are straining our customers’ resources. To that end, we are expanding our routine maintenance teams as well as our nationwide network of technicians. We are also expanding our use of machine-to-machine software to assist our customers remotely.

We have also modernized our parts delivery systems to make sure if a customer orders a spare part, we can ship it that same day. We at Reiser are listening to our customers in this great industry and working diligently to meet their needs, present and future.”

Tim Cook, president and c.e.o., Shick Esteve
Tim Cook, president and c.e.o., Shick Esteve:
“For many years, the baking industry has focused on innovation and flexibility to meet ever-changing consumer demands. While those efforts will continue, the trend in 2018 will focus on optimization of existing operations and the use of ‘big data.’

After a period of consolidation in operations and differentiation of products, bakeries will be more focused on optimizing production to realize maximum efficiency in terms of cost per pound of output.  While ‘operations optimization’ applies to everything from the way operators are trained to equipment’s uptime performance, it also refers to the use of big data to allow bakers to better monitor and control their process performance. 

At Shick Esteve, we are working with these data concepts, such as Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things, to help bakers increase production uptime, efficiently track production lots and receive production information on the device of their choice at the location of their choice. The opportunities for the collection and use of data from the production floor are limitless, and we are just beginning the transformation in the way we use this information for the efficient and safe manufacture of products in the baking industry.”