What issues do bakers face this year that they didn’t at the International Baking Industry Exposition three years ago? According to the American Bakers Association’s FTRAC committee chairs, Len Heflich and Valerie Wayland, the emphasis on food safety tops a fairly long list. Bakers also are facing a volatile commodities market, an increasing demand for “natural” products and a “cleaner” food label. Others changes include continued industry consolidation, the apparently permanent increase in commodity costs, increased food safety regulations — imposed by both government and third-party audits — and the demonization of gluten. These factors have increased pressure on bakers — on sales, margins, systems, programs and management.

The two FTRAC chairs noted that there’s no science behind the drive for gluten-free diets for healthy people who are not sensitive to gluten. In fact, there is science that demonstrates it may be harmful to consumers who are not gluten-intolerant. Unfortunately, there is a lot of buzz favoring gluten-free in the media.

The A.B.A. will continue to support the communication of sound science. For more information on the A.B.A.’s committee work, check out 2013 I.B.I.E. Special Edition & Show Preview issue in the mail later this month.