WASHINGTON — “No matter which channel our members served, the past year has been the most challenging ever experienced by the baking industry,” said Robb MacKie, president and chief executive officer of the American Bakers Association.

Welcoming 300 industry executives registered for the 2021 annual meeting, held virtually beginning March 22, Mr. MacKie tipped his cap to what the baking industry achieved over the past year. It was the second year in a row the ABA was unable to meet face to face for its annual meeting.

Recognizing the difficulties encountered by bakers, Mr. MacKie celebrated the “resilience” of ABA members.

“I have been amazed by how you and your employees have worked harder than ever over the past year to deliver delicious products to consumers when they needed them most,” he said. “We believe in the commitment and resilience of you, the baking industry, to continue to forge ahead as we make our way through these challenging times together.”

Bradley K. Alexander, chair of the ABA and chief operating officer at Flowers Foods, Inc., Thomasville, Ga., acknowledged the protracted difficulties experienced by bakers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have all faced enormous challenges this past year,” he said. “We have been at this so long, it’s hard to remember what normal feels like.”

He said the 2021 annual meeting was intended to help bakers “envision the future state” for the baking industry. He said with the onset of COVID the objective for the ABA has been to ensure the association “did everything it could to keep all of our members operational and to recover from the economic devastation.”

Describing the 2020 election as “a change of direction for the country,” Mr. Alexander said it was crucial for the ABA to remain engaged politically.

“We need to work with when possible and respectfully oppose when necessary, the policies of the new administration that will hinder not only the baking industry’s economic success but also the economic strength of our country,” he said. “There is no greater mission for this year.”