This post is sponsored by TraceGains.

Everyone in an organization has a role in providing our customers superior quality products, says Alejandro Cebado, senior director of quality systems at Bimbo Bakeries USA.

Bimbo Bakeries USA has become the nation’s largest baking company through a series of acquisitions, and now operates more than 60 bakeries across the country. Cebado says working in that kind of environment has enabled him to learn and grow from the influence of the various corporate cultures that have been melded together.

“I have the privilege to lead the BBU Quality and Food Safety team in building, implementing and operating a comprehensive and effective quality system that will support BBU operations in delighting our consumers every day with safe and superior quality baking products,” said Cebado.

SmartBrief recently spoke with Cebado about his role at the company and his advice for young quality professionals.

What are the aspects of your position that you are most passionate about, and why? (read more…)

It is nearly impossible to be taken seriously as a brand without establishing a social media presence. This holds true in the food and beverage arena — brands are expected to communicate and connect with their consumers online through social media in order to stay relevant. According to Razorfish, 64% of consumers have made a first purchase from a brand because of a digital experience, and more than half of consumers use the internet before making a purchase in shops.

One St. Helena, Calif.-based winery, Whitehall Lane, understands the value and necessity of doing social media effectively. Katie Leonardini, vice president of retail sales for Whitehall Lane, created social media pages in 2008 and saw immediate benefits in the way these accounts allowed the brand to connect directly with its audience. She decided social media was worth the effort, and began a working relationship with The Abbi Agency to manage Whitehall Lane’s social media content. (read more…)

More than 2,100 exhibiting companies demonstrated their goods and services to a crowd of more than 63,000 chefs, restaurant owners and other foodservice professionals at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago last week. The show floor was a great place to spot new trends. Several trends from years past — such as gluten-free and spicy flavors — are still going strong. Here’s a look at three concepts that were among the most buzzed-about at this year’s show.

Time for Tea

Specialty iced tea was among the top trends named by American Culinary Federation chefs in NRA’s What’s Hot Forecast for 2015. Teas of all types were represented on the show floor this year, from artisanal loose teas to flavored iced teas that are gaining popularity as more diners seek out healthier beverage choices.

Art of Tea was one of nearly 50 companies featuring tea at the show. The 10-year-old company produces more than 140 blends and restaurants account for 80% of its business, Business Development Executive Chelsea Gutierrez said. (read more…)

Technology has touched almost every aspect of the food and beverage industry in the digital age, and while some companies have fallen behind the times, others have risen to the occasion, incorporating technology like e-commerce and mobile applications into their business strategies. One aspect of the food and beverage space that has benefited in the digital age is loyalty programs. And restaurants and retailers are increasingly using today’s tech tools to elevate their loyalty strategies.

For Jess Stephens, chief marketing officer at digital marketing firm SmartFocus, it is all about creating an omnichannel, personalized experience.

“It doesn’t really matter what the channel is, it’s more about making it personalized and relevant in real time,” she said.

Today’s digital world allows retailers and restaurants to approach loyalty programs through different tiers, from more traditional loyalty cards, to mobile apps and location-based services, Stephens said. These different tiers help companies increase the amount of information they know about their customers and allow companies to provide customers with a more personalized shopping or dining journey. (read more…)

Chefs and other foodservice professionals are just beginning to scratch the surface of what they can create with 3D printers, and the possibilities are seemingly endless. The Culinary Institute of America has teamed with 3D Systems to explore how the 3D printing company’s ChefJet Pro, the first 3Dfood printer, can be used in professional kitchens. Representatives from the CIA and 3D Systems sat on a panel at the National Restaurant Association Show Monday to talk about what the future holds for 3D printing in the food world.

“We feel strongly that 3D printing has something to offer the culinary world, and we’re motivated to make sure the technology is available to the industry. But we don’t want to be the ones to decide how those capabilities are deployed. We want to make sure culinarians are able to explore those for themselves,” said Liz von Hasseln, creative director of food for 3D Systems. (read more…)