LA QUINTA, CALIF. — While celebrating the first in-person annual meeting of the American Bakers Association in three years, the importance of the upcoming 2022 IBIE also was given a central importance at this year’s gathering.
“I don’t recall a more important Expo in my entire career,” said Bradley K. Alexander, the outgoing chair of the ABA and chief operating officer of Flowers Foods, Inc., Thomasville, Ga.
“When I became ABA chair two years ago, it certainly wasn’t the experience I had envisioned,” he said of his term, kicking off the 2022 meeting in-person March 27 at the La Quinta Resort and Club, La Quinta.
Mr. Alexander was elected ABA chair in 2020 at the first ever virtual All Membership meeting.
Speaking at this year’s all-membership meeting before a live audience, he continued, “That being said, I am extremely proud of the way our industry has pulled together to feed our country despite the challenges we all have faced. I am extremely proud of how we have helped each other through the pandemic, dealing with supply chain disruptions, and now navigating cost increases caused by the war in Ukraine.”
In an environment posing challenges from numerous directions, Mr. Alexander said sustaining industry unity has been crucial.
“I promised you that I would do everything in my power to ensure that the industry remained strong and united,” he said. “Working together, I believe we have met that challenge.”
He tied the importance of unity with supply chain difficulties currently roiling the industry.
“We must all work even closer together, so we can continue to be successful in supplying baked goods to all Americans,” he said. “Our entire supply chain, from farm to table, is under enormous stress. It is through honest, transparent, and open communications that will help us get through these tough times. As a baker, I cannot emphasize this strongly enough that we need our suppliers beside us.”
Elaborating on the importance of IBIE and excitement building around the event was Jorge Zarate, vice chair of 2022 IBIE. Mr. Zarate, global senior vice president of operations and engineering at Grupo Bimbo SAB de CV, Mexico City, pointed out that the 2022 event, set for Sept. 17-21 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, is now less than six months away.
“As the first international baking trade show to take place in-person over the past few years — we can’t wait to welcome bakers and suppliers back for a reunion of epic proportions,” he said.
Mr. Zarate noted numerous show highlights, including the Innovation Showcase and the many new products to be launched at IBIE. He emphasized the importance of the event for bakers to keep abreast of emerging trends and advancements, “so you get ahead of what’s next,” he said.
He said it is crucial for baking companies to send decision makers to IBIE “so everyone is in the room to effect change.”
In his remarks, Mr. Alexander reminded the bakers of another important event coming up in 2022 — November elections.“We need to let our elected leaders know we are here with one, united, strong voice for the industry,” Mr. Alexander said. “If the past two years have taught us anything, it is the importance of strong, focused, and competent leadership. This November, we have the opportunity to let our voice be heard in selecting those leaders. I implore you to be an informed and engaged voter and ABA has plenty of tools to help you do that.”