NAPLES, FLA. — Cascading waves against a sandy beach is a sound those living in Naples are accustomed to hearing. Despite the serenity of these waves, residents also understand the strength and intensity the gulf possesses. As the location for this year’s American Bakers Association’s annual convention, to be held April 7-10, the coastline city inspired the event’s theme: The Power of Bakery.
“The 2018 convention focused on retail drivers, consumers’ habits and how to maximize bakery,” said Robb MacKie, president and chief executive officer of the A.B.A. “In 2019, the convention is elevating those concepts to hit on the focal point of the industry. A.B.A. designed a visual theme reflective of this year’s coastal destination, which draws parallels with the power of the ocean and its waves to the ‘Power of Bakery.’”
Almost 500 people from the baking industry will come together at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel for a full agenda of educational industry topics, including grocery, e-commerce, food service and convenience. Mr. MacKie said the convention grows 5% to 6% every year, and the organization expects more wholesale baking c-suite and executive leaders in 2019.
The convention will feature a NextGenBaker Brunch with a discussion on the bakery product preferences of Generation Y and Z consumers. Focused on future leadership for the wholesale baking industry, A.B.A.’s NextGenBaker committee is composed of managers, directors, and vice-presidents and senior vice-presidents who have experience with growth potential.
A power punch this year is A.B.A.’s investment into two studies, the results of which will be revealed at the convention. Created with Anne-Marie Roerink from the Food Marketing Institute and Todd Hale, one report details insight about influences for consumer behavior in the marketplace. The second study was developed with Jason Dorsey from The Center for Generational Kinetics and examines how bakery products fit into the lives of Generation Y and Generation Z consumers.
“The thing we are most looking forward to this year is presenting the findings of the research reports to our members,” Mr. MacKie said. “Not only will it help these companies with strategies for their businesses, but the reports and the conversations surrounding them also directly fall in line with one of our key initiatives: to leverage thought leadership to promote the industry’s value to consumers, workers and elected officials. Both of these reports promise to make waves. Pun intended.”
The authors of the two studies are a part of this year’s speaker lineup, which also includes former lieutenant Carey Lohrenz, who will cover “Lessons in Leadership and Partnership.” As the first female combat-mission-ready F-14 Tomcat Fighter Pilot in the US Navy, Ms. Lohrenz seeks to motivate, engage, inspire and educate companies to excel in the face of challenges. Other speakers will bring data and ideas for attendees to immediately apply to their business.
“A.B.A. is an association of action,” Mr. MacKie said. “There is a tremendous amount of co-manufacturing, distribution and best practice sharing that happens in the industry, and a lot of those discussions occur during the A.B.A. Convention.”