The American Bakers Association’s (ABA) President and CEO Robb MacKie testified yesterday before the Maryland House of Delegates Economic Matters Committee. Mr. MacKie was joined by JR Paterakis, Vice President Sales & Marketing for H & S Bakery/Northeast Foods; Maryland House Delegate Doyle Niemann, Judge John Themelis, retired Maryland Circuit Court Judge; Jim Rood, private investigator at JR Investigative Services; and Ralph Kemp, President of Cloverland Dairy.
Testimony on tray loss issue (from right): MacKie, Paterakis, Niemen, Kemp and Rood.
Mr. MacKie and Mr. Paterakis, a leader of a multi-industry effort to crack down on organized baking and food industry plastic equipment theft, both testified in support of proposed legislation in Maryland to significantly increase penalties as well as create a civil right of action to combat the wholesale theft of plastic bakery equipment such as trays and baskets. ABA has been working to raise awareness and discourage bakery tray theft for the last several years.
According to Mr. MacKie’s testimony, there has been a “sudden surge in the loss of plastic delivery and storage containers, in some cases as high as 60 percent loss in major metro areas, including those in Md. This has resulted in excess of $100 million of lost equipment and countless operational disruptions over the past few years.” The cost of replacement trays, reported Mr. MacKie, surge upwards of a half million dollars per year, which is ultimately passed onto consumers who are already facing record high commodity prices. "Should this legislation become law, it would put Maryland at the forefront of the nation on this important issue and be a model for other states to follow," said Mr. MacKie.
H.B. 1088, introduced by Delegates Doyle Niemann (D-PG) and Michael Vaughn (D-PG) would be a national model legislation in the effort to combat organized theft of plastic bakery equipment. This legislation builds upon the lessons learned during a sting operation of a major organized plastics theft ring in the Washington, D.C. area. As Mr. MacKie noted, “Companies are doing their part to educate and inform sales force and customers on the importance of returning trays, but tougher laws are needed to compliment these efforts and to provide law enforcement with the seamless legal framework to deter and prosecute this complex and serious criminal activity.” As legislation on this issue continues to develop throughout the United States, ABA will be at the forefront of efforts to support tougher penalties for tray theft and damage.