WASHINGTON — Robb MacKie, president and chief executive officer of the American Bakers Association, in a Dec. 10 blog post listed five baking industry imperatives for 2022:  solidify supplier partnerships, emphasize career development, take part in technological experimentation, seek new opportunities to raise the profile of grains and advocate for the industry. He used ABA webinars and “Bake to Future” podcasts held during 2021 to point out the need for the imperatives.

Bakers dealt with commodity price increases and supply chain hurdles this year. An ABA podcast in June recommended bakers solidify relationships with suppliers to improve communications and help companies better navigate and forecast.

“We call them partners because that’s what they are,” Hayden Wands, vice president of global procurement, commodities for Grupo Bimbo SAB de CV, said of suppliers. “It takes a lot of coordination to bring ingredients into a bakery, and that need is really heightened now.”

An ABA webinar in July explored how a variety of approaches, including mentorships and leadership developments, may help employees further their careers. Employees may take many paths to go from entry level to the boardroom.

The International Baking Industry Exposition next September in Las Vegas should be a showcase for learning more about technology, said Dennis Gunnell, IBIE 2022 chair and president of Formost Fuji, in an ABA podcast in September of this year. Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and virtual reality will play important roles in baking’s future.

“We’re all experimenting and learning how to use technology such as virtual reality,” Mr. Gunnell said. “We’re learning how to adapt technology for areas including training and collaboration, and the show will highlight all this.”

The updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans released late in 2020 provides new opportunities to raise the profile of grains, according to speakers in an ABA podcast in January.

“Grains are positioned very well in the new guidelines,” said Lee Sanders, ABA’s senior vice president of government relations and public affairs. “There are great opportunities for messaging to the public, health influencers, and policy influencers.”

ABA members may advocate for the industry with government officials. Members may write letters, make phone calls and participate in Zoom meetings. The constant changes of staff on Capitol Hill make it more important to keep up communication and outreach.