With diminished market volatility, expectations at Sosland Publishing Co. for last week’s 2010 Purchasing Seminar had been guarded. Attendance at the annual event had surged in earlier years in what had been viewed as an anxious reaction to the extraordinary price moves in 2007 and 2008. With prices for several (but certainly not all) baking ingredients down to levels near their five-year average, expectations had been for a modest drop in registration for the three-day seminar geared to help ingredient buyers shape their purchasing strategies.

Instead of a decline, though, attendance reached an all-time high of 655, up 11% from 2009. Also at a record high was registration for a supplemental session conducted just before the seminar, offering a “primer” for new purchasing executives. Attendance at the special session was 90, up 64% from 2009.

In addition to affirming the quality of what has become a major annual event for food processing, the record 2010 attendance suggests the heightened seriousness with which the industry’s executives view the development and execution of thoughtful purchasing and risk-management strategies, each and every year. That this record occurred in a quieter market atmosphere suggests that the focus on purchasing was not merely reflexive and fleeting. This bodes well for the industry in 2010-11 and beyond.