Unintended Consequences of Ethanol—Anticipating the Impact on Commercial Baking
T. Kuk. American Society of Baking, Sonoma, CA. Cereal Foods World 52(6):304-306.
What a difference a year makes. A shift in the United States’ energy policy combined with the heavy international demand of U.S. wheat has sent tremors through the U.S. commercial baking industry with across-the-board ramifications from capital investment to new product development. To compound the problem, many bakers and millers describe the 2007 hard winter wheat crop as the most difficult since 1993. For anyone affiliated with baking, caution is the word moving forward; cost is going to be the first and only consideration in the near term. Depending on the political fate of the ethanol industry and the demand of wheat, baking as well as food manufacturing in general could face long-term challenges. Much remains to be seen as to the long-term implications of the food-as-fuel economy. If the sudden spike in commodity pricing were to retreat, business might return to normal with minimal disruption of activities. For the cereal chemist and the product development professional, your challenge will be to do more with less in a highly creative and efficient manner that minimizes expense and maximizes return on investment.