Where the Smart Money Is

While the low-carb diets grab the headlines, perhaps the most insidious trend impacting bakers today is inflation. The cost of flour, eggs, sugar and other ingredients keeps rising. Employee benefits continue to increase at double-digit rates. Don’t even think about the impact of natural gas and diesel, with the price of oil hitting record highs.
To survive in today’s environment, producers of grain-based foods need to find the tools to operate more efficiently and more intelligently. Fortunately, this year’s International Baking Industry Exposition, which runs from August 15-18 in Las Vegas, provides the timely opportunity for bakers to shop for tomorrow.
As Paul Abenante, president and CEO of the American Bakers Association, explains, "The economics of the current business environment dictates the need for advanced, emerging and applicable technology. IBIE is the time for the industry to focus on the impact of technology on both the present and the future."
IBIE, which is held every three years, is the largest baking show in North America. Sponsored by ABA and BEMA, the baking industry suppliers association, this year’s Baking Expo promises to be a lot more than in the past. In many ways, notes Robb MacKie, ABA’s vice president of government relations, businesses simply can’t afford to pass it up.
"There is no better opportunity for companies to find a multitude of ways to increase productivity, efficiency and safety while reducing operating costs," he explains. "IBIE has it all — from new material-handling equipment to distribution and routing technology and safety equipment. IBIE also is a great way to show unity and resolve in the face of the current environment."
For wholesale bakers and commercial producers of grain-based foods, the IBIE show has teamed up with the American Institute of Baking, which will conduct morning seminars on a diverse array of topics ranging from tips and suggestions on producing lower-carb breads and formulating for extended shelf life to seminars on managing food security, allergens and microbiological issues in grain-based foods. Visit www.aibonline.org for more information.
Meanwhile, for retail bakers, in-store bakery operators and foodservice chains, the Retailers’ Bakery Association will put on an innovative display and education program that highlights the art of baking. The RBA will run an all-day Demonstration Theater, where experts provide formulas and teach techniques for hands-on baking. In addition, there will be opportunities for destination bakers to sit down and have industry chats, discuss trends, share their craftsman tips and view the signature decorative pieces from Las Vegas’ best bakers and pastry chefs.
In May, the IBIE reported that 92% of space had been sold for the show. In fact, 604 companies from 95 companies have signed on for about 315,745 net sq. ft. of exhibit space. Nearly 340,000 net sq. ft. is available.
Lee Sanders, ABA’s vice president of regulatory and technical services, notes that attendees will quickly find out why IBIE is known as the "World’s Baking Showcase."
"IBIE is an excellent opportunity for the industry to come together to see all of the latest innovations that can assist companies now and in the future," she says. "Not only can attendees benefit from learning about the newest equipment and ingredients available in the marketplace, they can also participate in the informational seminars that focus on the hot topics for the baking industry."
In a letter to the industry, Gary Prince, ABA’s chairman, encouraged fellow executives to increase the number of employees attending the baking expo.
"I feel very strongly that this year’s International Baking Industry Exposition is one of the most significant events for our industry and it comes at a critical time for each of us," noted Prince, who’s also president of Weston Foods U.S. "Despite the tremulous atmosphere of the market surrounding the carbohydrate debate, I personally believe that this year’s IBIE provides all of us a tremendous opportunity to continue to focus on investing in each of our company’s and our industry’s future."
Prince added that the ultimate success of this year’s IBIE and those in the future depends largely on the industry’ participation and attendance.
"I encourage each of you to increase the number of company representatives you send to this event," he stated. "Simply put, without meaningful attendance, suppliers and exhibitors won’t return in the future. The future strength of the industry and the American Bakers Association are inextricably linked to the strength of the IBIE."
This year, Weston is sending 20% more employees to the show than the company sent three years ago.
"It is my hope that you will do the same," Prince said. "If this happens on an industry-wide basis, we can ensure a successful IBIE this year and in the years ahead. I know that the ABA Board of Directors is committed to this objective as well."
Bob Kirkpatrick, IBIE 2004 chairman and president of Rondo Inc., says exhibitors will be featuring new automation, such as sheeting, filling, makeup, topping, extruding and packaging systems, which have broad applications to the grain-based food industry as a whole.
"Most of the companies that supply to the traditional baking industry also supply to others in the grain-based food business," Kirkpatrick explains. "There are thousands of what I would call non-traditional bakers of grain-based foods who can reap huge benefits from attending the show. IBIE is not only for retail and wholesale bakers, but also for frozen food manufacturers, pizza producers, cookie and cracker companies, hot snack processors, Mexican food operators — anybody who uses grain-based foods in their products. All of these people use common ingredients and similar processes to produce their products.
"There are food applications, snack applications, tortilla technology, cookie and cracker equipment, ingredient-handling systems, new mixing and aerating technology and applications to the candy industry," he adds. "It’s much more than a bakery show."
Matt Zielsdorf, vice president with The Peerless Group, notes that the company will feature equipment from all of our divisions, including those for producing breads and rolls, biscuits and crackers, and cakes and snacks.
"It gives us the opportunity to visit with all of our best customers — both new and old -- in one location. We can demonstrate new equipment options, and at times, new people," Zielsdorf says.
"We always look at how we can better serve our baking industry customers. If they are willing to share with equipment manufacturers the issues they face, we are usually able to assist them in finding solutions," he adds. "We always look at how we can better serve our baking industry customers."
This year, Kirkpatrick says, there seems to be pent-up demand for attending the show. That may be because the last IBIE show coincided with 9/11, which no one will ever forget.
"Many people have not been to a Baking Expo in six or seven years," he says. "It’s a great opportunity for them to check out the onslaught in automation, the advances in programmable logic controls, the use of the Internet and Ethernet, computer hardware, new processes, robotics. The advances are light years ahead of what was available three years ago, let alone seven years ago."
Kirkpatrick notes that the IBIE show is a convenient place for shopping because it’s all under one roof.
"This is a good place to see what technology is available and compare the construction of equipment, the design of systems and actually see in person how the equipment is built and how it operates," he says. "For us at Rondo, it is and always has been the most efficient way for our company to reach the greatest number of customers in the most efficient way. It’s the best show in the industry for reaching grain-based food companies.