In this IBIE blog post, Robb MacKie, the President & CEO of the American Bakers Association offers reflections on the global COVID-19 pandemic and how the baking industry, in this crisis and others, has always been and will always be #BakingStrong. The American Bakers Association (ABA), is a co-owner of IBIE, along with BEMA and in partnership with the Retail Bakers of America.
There was a before and there will be an after, and we will – as an industry – be in this together. While this crisis is entirely different from ones we have weathered before, the response is the same: our industry bands together ensuring we can continue feeding America’s families a safe, healthy – and, let’s admit it – sometimes indulgent – food staple. The sustenance and joy our industry provides is the core of our Members’ noble work. It’s in trying times like these that others get to see it.
As America experienced the rolling waves of shutdowns and quarantines and the extreme fear of the unknown, as the federal government invoked various acts to protect the food supply and our Association worked to ensure our industry had tools to stay operational or to be supported during a dire time, our Members and our industry exemplified to themselves and others how they are, and always have been, pillars of their communities.
We’ve heard stories of extreme acts of giving: millions of baked goods donated to countless food banks, thousands of volunteers from our industry (some of whom have even been temporarily furloughed) taking time to give back, and the heroic efforts of baking industry employees pushing aside fears and coming to work, safely making and delivering the products we need today and always. We wholeheartedly applaud this work and would love to help amplify these stories through our various communications channels.
During the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, we were all together at IBIE in Las Vegas. That seminal moment swiftly changed many facets of that specific event and of our lives, not unlike how this pandemic will certainly affect how we go about doing business, operating our plants, and countless other ways. When the attendees of IBIE in 2001 quickly dispersed (as quickly as they could) to be back at their home bases, the sense of togetherness even though we were apart was palpable. Now, we truly cannot physically be together, yet I feel we have never been closer.
As we started this year, I heard all sorts of witty marketing campaigns and puns that indicated 2020 would be the year of clarity, of focus. But now, I can’t help but think hindsight will absolutely be 2020. It’s what we are doing now that will forever shape how we operate moving forward. And it puts into focus (pun intended) the importance of constantly communicating throughout the bakery supply chain the quickly evolving needs of each segment of the industry.
It’s already been nearly one year since IBIE 2019 if you can believe it. Also, if you can believe it, we have already begun the plans for IBIE 2022. What will the show look like? What sort of technologies will be unveiled? How will consumer perceptions be different than now? What innovations in packaging and sanitization and ingredients and automation will we see? How will we adapt the format and topics for the educational sessions to prepare for the next wave of whatever it is that comes next? I’m excited and anxious to work with the other co-owner of IBIE and the esteemed members of the IBIE committee to see how we can take this crisis and learn from it, to build an international platform and event for doing business as we emerge from this pandemic, feeding the world, together.
This guest blog post has been provided by the American Bakers Association, a voluntary trade association dedicated to representing the interests of the wholesale baking industry before the United States Congress, state legislatures, and international regulatory authorities. Formed in 1897, ABA tackles key issues on behalf of grain-based foods and initiates key reforms to make positive impacts on the industry; ABA is committed to promoting public policy that is in the best interest of the baking industry.