ABA and SNAC release indepth analysis of current salary and compensation trends

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

The survey is designed to help those in the snack and baking industries recruit and retain talent in today’s extremely challenging labour market. Pic: GettyImages/Prostock-Studio
The survey is designed to help those in the snack and baking industries recruit and retain talent in today’s extremely challenging labour market. Pic: GettyImages/Prostock-Studio

Related tags American bakers association Snac International Wage Bakery Snacks workforce labour shortage

The American Bakers Association (ABA) and SNAC International (SNAC) have updated their Salary & Benefits Survey – last published in 2017 – to map the current North American landscape, particularly post-COVID, to help bakery and snack producers attract and retain their essential workforce.

The report spans nearly 150 pages of data, covering company profiles, pay practices, benefits and pay information for 34 positions from 36 manufacturers and supplier organisations across the US and Canada.

The data has been collected from all segments of the two industries, including bread and rolls, potato and tortilla chips, cakes and pies, cookies and crackers, sweet goods and tortillas.

It also includes info on corporate, division and plant management positions with salary broken down by both region and plant size.

Baker salaries

As of 12 March 2022, data from global employment platform Indeed reported the average base salary for an American baker is $15.70 per hour, versus £11.54 ($15.08) in the UK, €10 ($10.98) in France and NOR 130 ($14.46) in Norway.

In the US, New Yorkers earn the highest (around $17.98 per hour), followed by bakers in LA ($17.23/h) and Portland, Oregon ($16.29/h). The highest payers are Walmart ($19.37/h), Bimbo Bakers USA ($18.70/h), and retailers New Seasons Market ($17.83/h) and Wegmans Food Markets ($17.34/h).

Obviously, pay rises with years of experience, along with skills and seniority. For example, bakery managers, pastry cook and mixer are typically on a par at around $19.50/h, while the support base of cake decorators and bakery assistants come in at around $15.00/h.

To really make the most of a career in bakery, a Food Science degree will add 67.38% to a salary, while catering experience should bump it up by 50.72%.

According to Indeed, though, based on 6,800 ratings, only 32% of US bakers believe their salaries are enough for the cost of living in their area.

The labour drain

Supply chain disruptions and global labour shortages are now a big problem for businesses around the world – and has hit the bakery industry hard.

Last year, the ABA and the American Society of Baking (ASB) released a joint study on workforce recruitment in the commercial baking sector, highlighting the growing labour shortage concerns.

Around 53% of companies surveyed cited a ‘high or severe shortage’ in the areas of skilled production, unskilled production and transportation, while 58% reported the same for maintenance and engineering positions. More worryingly, many predicted these shortages to continue well into 2027.

“The baking industry has been dedicated to introducing Americans across the country to rewarding baking manufacturing careers,”​ said Robb Mackie, ABA’s president and CEO.

“Our industry’s most important ingredient is our workforce, and this study gives baking employers new insights to grow this community of 800,000 essential employees.”

The ABA/ASB study found the top recruitment challenges for employers included making the industry a more appealing career move to candidates; and finding and developing talent

This has certainly driven the need for a more diverse workforce, with 96% baking employers today focused on recruiting women, a 22% increase from 2016. Recruiting ‘second-chance’ workers has increased 40% since 2016.

The focus on qualifications has also been redefined, with more employers looking at candidates who may lack some required skills but demonstrate potential, a strategy only 59% were utilising in 2016.

The benefits of a decent wage

Another principal recruitment challenge for both the bakery and snacks sectors is for employers to provide adequate salary and benefits.

“Joining forces with SNAC International for this survey, both of our organisations can offer our respective members complete analysis of current salary and compensation trends in both the baking and snack foods industries,”​ said MacKie.

“With so many workforce changes, this valuable resource will help snack and baking industries prepare budgets, recruit and retain talent in today’s extremely challenging labour market.”

Elizabeth Avery, SNAC’s president and CEO, added, “For the 2021 Salary & Benefits Survey, we recognised the tight connection between our food manufacturers and their suppliers by including both sectors in the results.

“The data looks at how organisations implemented competitive hiring practices, adjusted compensation and incentives due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and provided various benefits in addition to salary.”

The survey is available to ABA and SNAC members only. Data was analysed by the Compdata Survey Practice at Salary.com, a national compensation survey and consulting firm.

ABA is the only bakery-specific national and state trade association, representing more than 300 companies with a combined total of 1,600+ facilities. Since 1897, ABA has worked to increase protection from costly government actions, build the talent pool of skilled workers with specialised training programmes, and forge industry alignment by establishing a more receptive environment to grow the baking industry.

Founded in 1937, SNAC International (formerly Snack Food Association) represents over 400 companies worldwide, including suppliers, marketers and manufacturers. SNAC is committed to connecting the industry via its pillars of education, advocacy and networking.

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