In a keynote address at the recent annual meeting of the International Association of Operative Millers, the remarks of Bill Stoufer, the new president and chief executive officer of ConAgra Mills, had powerful echoes for the baking industry.

“I doubt that being a miller means all you have to do is turn wheat into flour,” he said. “The miller today is a food safety specialist, a people safety advocate, asked to innovate, active in quality assurance, understands financial implications, production manager, participates in logistics and understands the customer. I would say with the demands of today, investment in people is a must.”

This observation is true not only for milling. In the lean world of baking operations today, the professional demands placed on plant managers are far greater than was the case a generation ago. Yet AIB International indicates that U.S. participation in its most rigorous baking training course remains extremely depressed. Paradoxically, the lean staffing at plants and heightened demands upon baking managers make it ever more difficult to take a four month resident course in Manhattan, Kas.

The situation needs to be remedied.

In AIB’s annual report, the group notes significant and broad steps it is taking to adjust its course to the realities of today’s world. The baking industry must participate fully in and embrace this transition to ensure a new generation of managers is prepared to help baking meet its promising future.