SAN DIEGO — BEMA Intel shows the baking industry, specifically BEMA members, the trends of the past so that the industry can make informed decisions about the future. The compilation of sales data, ingredient indices, equipment manufacturer outlook and more provides a quarter-by-quarter look at how the baking industry is doing from a business standpoint. 

At BEMA Convention 2022, held June 22-25, attendees were able to learn just how BEMA Intel can help them make business decisions for the future during a panel presentation, featuring Marjorie Hellmer, president of Cypress Research; Josh Sosland, president of Sosland Publishing Co.; and Jason Ward, president of AMF Bakery Systems. The conversation was led by Jennifer Lindsey, vice president of global marketing, Corbion. The data referenced in the panel was from Q2 of 2020 to Q1 of 2022. 

“The magic is in knowing how to use this data,” Ms. Lindsey explained. “Seeing these quarterly updates in key areas can help your company manage risk.”

BEMA Intel was launched at the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which means it offers a quarterly look at how the industry has weathered the many challenges the pandemic brought. The quarterly report offers a top-line view of the findings. BEMA members, however, can get a deep dive of information on the BEMA Intel Dashboard. This includes the full report of the Industry Indicators and the BEMA Member Pulse Survey. 

Industry Indicators include a report on bakery ingredient indices, diesel fuel, labor costs, unemployment and IRI dollar sales and unit sales for several major bakery categories for both commercial aisle and in-store bakery. Members can use this information to get a sense of how their customers, the bakers, are faring. 

“The bakery ingredient indices and flour production data can help you understand how your customer is experiencing ingredient markets,” Mr. Sosland explained. 

In the IRI data, for example, dollar sales are up in the commercial aisle, but that is because most companies are raising prices. This is evident in the fact that unit sales for commercial aisle bakery items are down. The in-store bakery, however, is seeing both dollar sales and unit sales going up. 

“We believe these changing market dynamics reflect a normalization happening in consumer buying patterns as the in-store bakery recovers,” Ms. Lindsey pointed out. 

The Member Pulse Survey is a fresh set of data taken every quarter by Cypress Research, in which BEMA members respond to a survey to discover their business outlook and challenges. Paired together with the Industry Indicators, BEMA members can see how challenges may be impacting their customers’ ability to invest. 

In Q1 of 2022, for example, the Member Pulse Survey finally revealed a softening in both bookings and business outlook for bakery equipment manufacturers. However, Mr. Ward pointed out that this was inevitable when just a few quarters ago, outlook was at 100% positive. 

“We have a strong demand environment for new equipment, but supply chain challenges can make it difficult to satisfy that demand,” he said. 

Also paired with the Industry Indicators, this story can get more complicated. While the cost of labor for non-durable goods continues to increase year-over-year, unemployment is significantly down. Bakers are finding it more difficult to find labor, and labor is getting more expensive. 

“This is a challenge for bakers’ bottom lines, and it is a headwind, but these high labor costs and the difficulty of finding workers is also good for investment,” Mr. Ward said. 

By looking at this trending historical data, BEMA members can see how consumers and the industry are responding to economic pressures and make informed decisions for the future of their businesses.