It’s a big year for baking, to put it mildly, and the American Bakers Association has carried a message to match the magnitude: the “Power of Bakery.”
Next, the A.B.A. will take that refrain into its Technical Conference, to be held Oct. 20-23 at the Marriott Atlanta Marquis. The conference brings together bakers and suppliers from around the world to share the most useful and up-to-date technical information available.
This year’s educational sessions have been specially curated to fit the “Power of Bakery” theme, said Samantha Moore, senior director of meetings and education, A.B.A.
“We have picked thought leaders who will present on different segments of the industry, highlighting trends in ingredients, equipment, process and leadership that show the power of bakery,” she said.
The conference also demonstrates the strength of collaboration in the industry by partnering with BEMA and AIB International on educational content designed for the mid-level facility workforce and technical employees. The topics cover everything occurring at a bakery from ingredient handling to baking. The sessions have been divided into two categories: theoretical and the basics. The basics take the theoretical and put it to applicable use.
“Much like our online training through the Cookie & Cracker Academy, we find that it is important for the industry’s workforce to understand fundamentals from a technical standpoint,” Ms. Moore said. “Then that fundamental understanding allows attendees to return home and use their new basis of learning to make informed, technical decisions that are ‘custom’ to their own environment.”
Historically, attendees have embraced technical conferences held in Atlanta. The highest attendance at a Biscuit & Cracker Manufacturers Association (B&CMA) conference was in 2012 with 304 attendees making the trip to Atlanta. Ms. Moore suggested a few factors will help the A.B.A. surpass that number this year. She said the conference saw the number of baker attendees double from 2017 to 2018, along with a 14% registration increase overall. With more than 60 tabletop exhibitors expected, the A.B.A. has doubled the amount of time dedicated to tabletops by including them as part of the opening reception.
Last year’s popular IncuBAKER exercise — where teams of attendees work together to solve industry-specific problems — will return to the lineup.
“Coming right off IBIE will create a lot of buzz on new trends, ideas, equipment, packaging, ingredients and logistics, which should spur a lot of innovative solutions to our industry challenges,” Ms. Moore said.
The growth of the technical conference since the A.B.A. merged with the B&CMA has been no accident.
“With the guidance and support of the A.B.A. Education Committee, the conference has preserved the spirit and educational purpose of the B&CMA and grown to include new initiatives,” Ms. Moore said. “From an attendance standpoint, the combination has grown the conference, but the sharing and learning together has been the biggest improvement. The members have really embraced the conference and its mission.”