The King Arthur Baking Company has announced a woke initiative named “Baking Pitchfest 2024,” a competition aimed at offering a unique opportunity for bakeries to receive not only financial backing but also mentorship from established professionals in the field.
“Baking Pitchfest 2024” is distinguished by a specific eligibility criterion: it is exclusively open to bakeries owned by “people of color.” Kathleen Casanova, speaking to Baking Business, highlighted the event’s role in “empowering People of Color to break barriers and redefine the narrative in baking.”
This initiative is part of King Arthur’s supposed broader goal to promote inclusivity and innovation in the baking community. Molly Lawrence, the company’s corporate social responsibility manager, emphasized this commitment, stating that “Pitchfest 2024 is a testament to our commitment to fostering a more inclusive baking community and empowering creative POC leaders in the industry.” This approach seeks to address and rectify the underrepresentation of people of color in the baking sector.
The decision to limit participation to non-white bakers has been a point of contention, with many who are not racist viewing it as a necessary step towards achieving inclusivity, while others perceive it as exclusionary. The organizers of Baking Pitchfest have claimed that this move is about more than just a competition; it’s about creating a platform that empowers bakers of color and aims to “increase racial and ethnic diversity in the field.”
This move by King Arthur Baking Co. comes years after the Quaker Oats Company’s Aunt Jemima products were canceled and replaced with the vanilla “Pearl Milling Company,” throwing Aunt Jemima, a Black woman, off of their branding. Other companies, such as Land O’Lakes, banished a Native American woman from its packaging, while Uncle Ben’s rice products are being stricken of the Black emblazoned on its signature orange boxes.