I am writing this note as I mark 10 years at Sosland Publishing Co. That’s not much compared to some in this industry, but it feels like a milestone, and I’m feeling sentimental.
For perspective, when I came on board in 2011, gluten-free bread was an emerging category, though most of us thought it was a fad. Now it is an established section in our Baking Directory & Buyer’s Guide.
Ten years ago, artisan purists turned up their noses at automation. “Can you even call it artisan if it’s automated?” was always the question. In this issue, you’ll see how La Brea Bakery is not only embracing automation when it’s appropriate, but also implementing every production efficiency program imaginable: 6S, Lean Six Sigma, Kaizen exercises. If you’ve heard of it, I’m sure Marcus Garcia, bakery director at the Van Nuys, Calif., facility, has implemented it with his team. And he’s using 100% data capture to see in real time where the process needs to be tweaked to keep product quality up and production moving. La Brea Bakery hasn’t lost its artisan heart; the mother starter is being well cared for, and it still takes 24 hours to make some product from start to finish. But today continuous improvement and artisan are no longer mutually exclusive.
All of this, as well as ARYZTA North America’s (ANA) decisions to quickly pivot focus to its Take & Bake portfolio and provide solutions to its QSR customers, has ANA well-positioned to emerge from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic stronger than ever, as you’ll see in these pages.
The ever-present problem the industry faced for much of my career has been stubbornly flat or declining bread sales. Well, you’ll be happy to see in our report on pan bread trends that this is no longer the case. We all lived it, but bakers and analysts in Features Editor Michelle Smith’s trends feature talk about where the industry can go from here. You can also get more insights into how other baking and snack categories are performing in season six of our podcast Since Sliced Bread, which premiered on May 5. I got to talk to IRI analysts as well as bakers across the industry about how we’re going to hold onto all this growth.
I never imagined that after 10 years, I would still be a part of this industry and editor of this magazine. But I am proud to be here and proud to have been a small part of the industry’s growth for the past decade. I look forward to seeing — and covering — the exciting innovations you bake up for the future.