BEMA Convention 2022: Ask A Baker

Ask A Baker – Convention 2022

On Friday, June 24, Convention 2022 brought together a panel of bakers to share their perspectives. The discussion included what’s keeping them up at night, silver linings coming out of the last two years, evolutions in company culture, expectations for IBIE and a look at future projections.

Ask A Baker


The Break Down

Workforce – Hiring and retention remain a top priority throughout the industry. With this in mind, bakeries are working to be as innovative as possible to attract and retain employees with an employee-centric lens. Beyond the money, which all have increased to attract and retain, employees are looking for flexible schedules and expect consideration around childcare and other life matters. Bakers are also taking a closer look at the environment and conditions where people are working in an effort to improve the facility climate, enhance ergonomics and eliminate repetitive tasks.

Culture – Improvement of company culture is a silver lining coming out of the pandemic. The benefits of creativity and collaboration continue to be highlighted along with the recognition of employees who made it possible to get through a very difficult time. Standardization of culture across an organization is resulting in better execution and staff resiliency. Collaborative practices are also producing more engaged players and more cohesive executive teams.

Ask A Baker

Recovery – The foodservice side of business is not yet fully recovered, and a full recovery could be years down the road. Recovery is impacted by large organizations where employees may not have returned to the office full-time. Labor is another issue that keeps foodservice businesses from operating at full capacity. With convenience on the mind of customers, bakeries are accommodating with product designed to be held and refrigerated.

Capital Investment – It could be 4-5 years before labor will recover. As a result, many bakeries are looking at automation options and how to eliminate some of the day-to-day stressors to make the job easier. When looking at automation, it is less about ROI and more about safety and the elimination of heavy lifting and repetitive tasks. With increased automation also comes the need for staff qualified to manage the process. At this time, it’s still difficult to source good maintenance and engineering talent.

Ask A Baker

Training – A decision to get clear on company mission and values has prompted some bakeries to survey current employees on the organization’s strengths and weaknesses. These efforts have exposed gaps and have prompted bakeries to rethink training of new employees to increase retention in addition to doing check-ins with current employees. The industry also faces an upcoming brain drain as experienced employees retire over the next five years.

IBIE – In September, the international show will welcome new faces with many bakeries using the event as a training opportunity and to provide exposure to the industry. Many are excited to see what’s on the horizon of baking and look forward to learning about other lines and equipment.

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