Join us at our annual convention for BEMA members


BEMA members from across the globe united June 26-30th at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel in California for the annual Convention. The event welcomed nearly 400 attendees with a week full of networking activities, meetings, BEMA Connect, education sessions and more. The knowledge share of information did not disappoint with insights coming from the industry leaders around cleaning methods, trends in the tortilla and flatbread and organic categories, insights from the Canadian market and the Clif Bar case study. Returning attendee, Ken Schwenger, Bakery Concepts, LLC summarized his Convention experience, “BEMA’s Convention provides a unique environment for an honest exchange of information between bakers and suppliers. It’s an extremely cost-effective way to gain knowledge that can be used to improve products and process for the benefit of all.”


Karl Thorson, Food Safety & Sanitation Manager at General Mills and second-year BIF member, kicked off the panel by answering the question, “What Does Clean Mean?” Thorson shared the importance of proper and adequate sanitation procedures, as well as industry trending cleaning methods. Utilizing Neogen rapid testing kits and a production conveyor from Intralox, Inc., attendees were able to interact and experience different sanitation monitoring, allergen screening, and quantitative testing. Thorson stressed early management and transparency are important factors within manufacturing facilities.


Sergio Caballero of FoodTools facilitated the conversation with Tom McCarthy, Chief Operating Officer for Aladdin Bakers and German Chavez, Vice President of Manufacturing at Mission Foods about current and overall operational needs of the industry. Key tortilla and flatbread takeaways consist of:

  • Consumers continue to focus on health-conscious goods causing manufacturers to seek new ingredients, new flavors and new product lines.
  • In relation to the FSMA Act, there is an ongoing need for equipment that is easy to clean, disassemble and put back together.
  • Employee safety is a big concern, and ongoing training is a key part of keeping the workplace safe.


One of the biggest trends currently is the growth of organic products. BEMA welcomed Dean Folkvord, President & CEO, Wheat Montana, Pio Pantoja Soto, President, Peruvian Association of Entrepreneurs of the Bakery and Pastry Industry (ASPAN), Jonathan Davis, Senior Vice President Research & Development, La Brea Bakery and Keith Sammons, Corporate Production Manager, US Bakery to discuss the consumer demand and their involvement in organics. Some of the findings around organics include:

  • Consumer confusion around food and how it is produced.
  • Growth of organic sales are vastly outpacing regular products – Kroger, Aldi, Walmart all investing in organic space in the future.
  • With the increased demand and sales for organics, it is projected the prices may stabilize in the marketplace.


Patrice Painchaud, Vice President Sales and Marketing, Rexfab facilitated the discussion with Rogelio Arreguin, Engineering, Maintenance & Sustainability Director, Bimbo Canada, John Garofalo, Vice President Engineering, Weston Bakery and Dave Lamothe, Vice President Operations at Premiere Moisson. The discussion shared information around key product categories, manufacturing facilities, comparison of Canadian regulations and U.S. FDA and FSMA. Other key facts identified around the Canadian baking industry include:

  • 80% of Canada’s trade is with the U.S. (even higher in the baked goods category).
  • 80% of production is generated by Weston Bakeries and Canada Bread.
  • Gluten-free movement stagnating. • Packaged flatbreads saw a 13% growth in 2016.


Rich Berger, Vice President of Engineering & Food Supply, Clif Bar & Company, wrapped up Convention with his interactive case study on the start-up of Clif Bar Baking Company of Twin Falls, ID. Berger stressed the importance of the baker and supplier relationship noting, “Any project no matter how small or how epic is a team effort.” He outlined the key responsibilities for bakers and suppliers to consider for a smooth start up.


  • Identify baker and supplier responsibilities by having open discussions early in the process.
  • Communicate clear goals and objectives.
  • Invite suppliers into facilities to help understand the company, culture and to create a stronger connection.
  • Provide resources like ERP and MES systems for real-time manufacturing info.
  • Early hiring for a smooth start-up.


  • Bring a value proposition ideally made up of solutions, innovation, knowledge and partnership.
  • Customers selection criteria is not always about price.
  • Take time to understand the requirements and challenge the status quo.
  • Be open-minded.
  • Be honest when a project is not a right fit.
  • Connect with customers in uncommon ways and be authentic.
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