For grain-based foods, the year coming to an end is one that should be regarded with considerable satisfaction. Amid numerous difficulties in the economics of milling and baking, many companies have moved forward with considerable success navigating shifting conditions that promise to remain challenging in the year to come. Share prices of publicly-traded companies have performed well, nearly keeping up, on average, with the torrid gains scored by the broader equity markets.

Certainly it is impossible to shrug off problems facing the industry such as the incessantly baleful attitudes directed toward the healthfulness of flour-based foods, prospects for rising costs of capital in connection with the gradual wind down of Federal Reserve bond buying and uncertainty related to the administration’s stumbling roll-out of its health care initiative. Additionally, the industry continues to work through unprecedented consolidation, first in baking and now looming in milling.

Looking back at the year overall, the extraordinary success of the triennial International Baking Industry Exposition in October stands as the high water mark for grain-based foods, both for what was achieved in bringing together so impressively an amazing array of industry representation and for what it says about the optimistic view widely held about baking and its future.