Recent BMIA dropouts include The West Bend Co., Household Products Inc.
The BMIA manufacturer defections put most of the responsibility of promoting bread machines on the makers of ancillary products, such as prepackaged flour mixes.
The association now needs to find the money to fund its promotional work without the support of appliance manufacturers, said BMIA president Cindy Reishus.
vice president Tom Lacalamita argues that consumer interest in the machines is still strong, and cited the standing-room only attendance at the event in Chicago as evidence of that.
Since sales of bread machines spike during the holidays, the BMIA hopes promoting bread machine baking in January will attract consumers who received bread machines as holiday gifts and want to learn how to use them.
"I want to hold the National Bread Machine Baking month in January so that retailers can move after-holiday sales of bread machines," said outgoing BMIA president Ann Parrish, who came up with the idea.
Many shoppers start off their bread machine careers with small, cheap models, and the BMIA hopes to drum up interest in multifeatured, more expensive models.
The Bread Machine Industry Association (BMIA) estimates there are more than 15 million bread machines on the American market, representing 15 percent household penetration.
"It's a top-10 electric," said Sandy Hu, vice president and director of Ketchum Food Center and a BMIA board member.
The BMIA cited a decline in the average price of a bread machine from $134.90 in 1990 to $107.30 in 1996.