WASHINGTON — “Out of an abundance of caution,” the American Bakers Association said the 2021 annual convention will be completely virtual. Concerned about the health and safety of ABA members and industry partners amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the group decided its previously planned hybrid convention model would not be possible.

The virtual event will be held March 22-23.

“While we know the baking community would love nothing more than to gather in person, the reality of the ongoing public health emergency and the need to protect essential employees dictates otherwise,” said Robb MacKie, president and chief executive officer of the ABA. “The innovative programming and networking opportunities for which the ABA Convention is known will remain but in a different format. As a silver lining, the virtual event will allow us to reach those members who have not attended the convention in the past, giving them the opportunity to experience top-notch, valuable content for the first time.”

The ABA said its virtual convention will feature trends presentations, customer panels and business-to-business networking for bakers, suppliers and industry partners. Registration will open early in February.

It will be the second consecutive year the ABA annual convention will be virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 annual convention had been scheduled for March 21-24 at the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando, Fla. ABA’s 2020 convention, which was to have been held in Scottsdale, Ariz., was canceled.