International Intrigue

By Dan Malovany

At IBA 2006 in Germany, Your Industry Sleuths Practically Traveled the Globe Scouting out Space-saving Systems and Versatile Production Processes That can Crank out a Wide Variety of Products, Ranging From Difficult-to-handle Artisan Breads to Decadent Desserts That are Just To-die-for.

Our watches read 11 a.m., but it must have been five o’clock somewhere because the beer was flowing at the iba 2006 bakery show in Munich, where business and beverages often go hand-in-hand … especially when a high-level deal is in the works.
Actually, during the first few days of the show, there was nothing secret about what was going on around us as we tried to uncover what’s new in the baking industry. In fact, kegs of fine brew seemed to be consumed at all hours by hordes of herren and dames dressed in lederhosen and other traditional German attire as they packed the subway and stumbled on their way to Oktoberfest. If they weren’t only drinking, these professional partiers were eating, smoking or talking on their cell phones.
But for Herr Ron Bean, publisher of Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery, and this intrepid reporter, the mood was all business. No time for a vodka martini, shaken and not stirred. Despite the fanfare at many exhibits and in the streets of this party town, the only drinks we had were nonstop injections of double espressos, which made us run around the convention center like we were on a secret mission as we searched for the latest in innovation.
Gluten Tag from Germany! Despite the international venue with exhibitors from all over the world, iba 2006 ironically had a strangely familiar feel to it, as many equipment and ingredient suppliers geared their product lines toward various trends that are impacting the baking industry not only in the United States, but also on a universal level.
As Daniel Malcorps, CEO of the Puratos Group, explained, “We firmly believe that people around the world will continue to demand food of greater quality. Quality can be broken down in to three main components, all three of which are demanding health and safety, eating pleasure and self-indulgence, and ease of consumption and ease of preparation at any time in any place.”
Puratos rolled out “great taste and wellness solutions” such as O-tentic, a new type of leaven-based, active fermenting ingredient that makes it possible to create bread with a hearty Old World taste. In November, the company is officially opening its multi-million-dollar Innovation Center in Brussels, where its staff will work with bakers, pastry chefs and candy producers to create new generations of products that meet consumers’ demands for both health and great taste.
Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait that long to indulge ourselves. After the Puratos conference, we joined the obviously underfed international press at a well-stocked reception, where we quaffed down glasses of red wine and other fine beverages — certainly, it was happy hour somewhere — and nibbled on cholesterol-lowering bread before topping it off with indulgent morsels of dark chocolate, rationalizing to ourselves that health and nutrition can be found in a multitude of fine-tasting foods.
Health and versatility also were centerpieces of a meeting and luncheon sponsored by the Almond Board of California, which was at iba to promote its signature snacks, as well as marzipan and almond paste. There, we learned that 90% of consumers believe products containing almonds are healthier than products without them. Moreover, 64% of consumers would pay more money for an almond-enriched product. Much to our delight, the buffet was absolutely awesome, which may explain why I went back for second and third servings of the almond shrimp entrée.
In Bavaria, the land of sauerkraut, liver dumpling soup and pretzels coated with pumpkin seeds, grazing is not just for cows, so we did our best to get a taste of the show, all in the name, of course, of health and wellness.
At the Dawn Food Products booth, for example, we snarfed down samples from the company’s new Adoré line of branded baked goods, including such tasty treats as a triple chocolate truffle muffin and a reduced-fat apricot-and-date cookie. The products contain no preservatives or trans fats and are being promoted as grab-and-go snacks for restaurants, snack shops and other eateries in the United Kingdom, Germany, Finland and Portugal.
We also snacked on swirl bread at Cereal Ingredients, Inc. (CII), which got positive feedback from the international baking community on its whole grain breakfast breads made with Flav-R-Bites and Flav-R-Swirl. There also was strong interest in its protein flakes, noted James Thomasson, executive vice president, sales and marketing. In Leicester, UK, Thomasson added, CII now has a service center and warehouse, which allows it to serve its European customers more affordably, in terms of distribution costs, than from the states. Moreover, its customers also can pick up their orders for free, if they like.
At the immense Bake Mark International exhibit, we hit the culinary jackpot. First, we sampled crusty artisan bread while we walked through the healthy baking part of the exhibit. Then, we nibbled on some chocolate-infused muffins in the sweet treats section before noshing on goat cheese pastrie’s made with multigrain in the hot snacks area. Yes, we learned firsthand that health, indulgence and convenient snacking are taking over the world. In fact, it was probably the worst-kept secret at the show.
Additionally, products such as tortillas, doughnuts, frozen pizza and snack bars are spreading in popularity beyond the Americas. At Bake Mark, the Caravan group brought over tortillas and bagels to give the exhibit a more American flavor, noted Kerrie Medlicott, marketing manager. Its “Tortilla Supreme” base reduces sticking and extends the shelf life of tortillas, as well.
Throughout the hallways, tortillas made a grand presentation. In addition to Caravan’s ingredient offerings, tortilla equipment suppliers such as AM Manufacturing, Casa Herrera and Lawrence Equipment, which had just attended the Tortilla Industry Association convention, found themselves flying across the pond to make their presence felt at iba 2006.
American Innovations
For domestic exhibitors who trekked to Germany, the U.S. Pavilion had a great location near the main entrance to the show, so when the doors opened at 9 a.m., they would get hit with the initial wave of potential customers. Attendees included not only international bakers, but also representatives from North American companies such as Turano Baking, Sara Lee, Weston Foods, Bimbo Bakeries, Canada Bread and Kroger, to name a few. For many exhibitors, the local contingent provided a pleasant bonus.
“I would say that it was the best iba 2006 show that I have been to, and I have been coming to iba since 1998,” noted Kurt Miller, sales director-technical service for Burford Corp.
Burford highlighted its Smart Seeder/Topper, which accurately covers baked goods and can provide annual savings of 20% to 40% in ingredients alone. For European customers, the company featured its resealable tape closure system, which can package more than 100 bags a minute. To improve hamburger, hot dog and hogey bun quality, Burford rolled out the Orbital Pan Shaker. Instead of shaking pans back and forth, the new system uses circular motion to gently align the buns, eliminate flat edges and minimize rejects.
In our continued search for innovation, we sauntered over to C.H. Babb, which recently built a state-of the-art Tech Center where its customers’ staffers can test-bake products. Bill Foran, vice president, pointed out that the center has a fully equipped kitchen, 50-ft. long test oven, conference room and loading dock to accept other vendors’ equipment that may be needed for the test. The center is designed to ensure maximum security and confidentiality for its customers.
To reinforce its brand image as a global doughnut equipment company, Moline Machinery Ltd. showcased the historical “Lincoln Donut Machine,” which cranked out samples at the show. The company also highlighted its doughnut systems, industrial sheeting lines and rotary cutters that can produce pizza and a variety of other products.
For many bakers, space- and labor-saving systems, as well as equipment that maximizes throughput, are high priorities in today’s business environment, with rising overhead pinching bakers’ bottom lines. To address these concerns, Formost Packaging Machines displayed its GT-4 Dual Lane Bagger, where baked goods are fed into two lanes from a single infeed. Because of this design, one system can crank out 100 packages operating at only 50 cycles a minute. Only two baggers are needed to handle 200 loaves a minute. In addition, bag tables drop down and open up in about five seconds to speed up changeovers, noted Jim Bonatakis, regional sales manager.
All of this talking made us thirsty, but on the way to the U.S. lounge for some much-needed refreshments, we stopped by Stewart Systems, where we chatted with company president Len Kilby about the Stewart Robotic Automation Group.
The newly formed division allows Stewart to offer full automation solutions for their primary and secondary packaging areas, including high-speed loading and vision-guided robotic solutions that can automate repetitive labor tasks. Moreover, Stewart has become a Premiere Fanuc Robotics Integrator and offers Intralox roller belt technology. With these additions, Stewart now can offer solutions for the entire production line, Kilby said.
Handle It Gently
After drinking down Coca Cola Lights to cleanse our palates, we bee-lined over to LeMatic, Inc., where application engineer Gregory Brasic showed off the AutoOp robotic flex picker that uses a vision system and vacuum pickup to align buns and remove rejects. So delicate is the system, Brasick said, that it can handle buns without damaging them with spider cracks or pucker marks. Moreover, the robotics can be used for other baked goods by changing the robotic end-effector, which is the device that picks up the product on the robotic arm.
For bakers, especially those who produce ciabatta and other products, gently handling high-moisture dough is critical to maintaining the proper open cell structure.
Rademaker’s new bread line can handle a wide array of baked goods, from panned breads to artisan products, produced by medium- and large-scale bakers. To keep the dough relaxed, all sheeting elements are the same level, eliminating stretching and tearing of the dough. Its modular design allows bakers to move sheeters and other components to reconfigure the line to produce various products. Plug-in components make moving systems in and out easy, added Eric Riggle, Rademaker’s vice president. Moreover, all of Rademaker’s lines are totally wash down for easy sanitation.
Certainly, automating the production of artisan breads has been a big focus for international exhibitors for some time. This year was no exception.
The Kaak Group rolled out its “Combi-Click” proofer with a patented product carrier that can hold four types of baskets with washable fabric covers for producing Old World-style breads. The four-sided carrier, which holds the baskets affixed to it, simply rotates if the baker wants to changeover to a different sized basket. Kaak also featured “clickable” strapped pans, which allow bakers to replace a damaged pan and not the whole strap or to pop out pans that need recoating.
We then checked in at the Turkington booth, where Clive Tolson, vice president of sales and marketing, talked about how its UK division is distributing its U.S. systems in Europe for baking sandwich breads and other good products, specifically its soft-touch divider, as well as ovens and proofers
At AutoBake Serpentine Baking Systems, we met up with Amanda Hicks, a director at the company, and shared another double espresso as we snarfed down tasty muffins. AutoBake has been working on new systems for intermediate bakers who want to automate but also want the flexibility to produce a large number of products in compact-sized systems. In addition, the company is “leveraging the Internet in an intelligent way,” Hicks said, to provide real-time service to its worldwide customer base. From a computer, the company can remotely enter its customers’ systems and suggest ways to maximize performance. Using cameras, Autobake also can check in-feed and out-feed to visually check for product quality.
Additionally, AutoBake has launched a “stand-alone” version of its Serpentine baking system with a “free tray” transport system that allows it to use baking trays that are independent of the oven. The system is ideal for bakers looking to transfer from rack ovens to a continuous baking process.
Now loaded up on caffeine, we met Wolfgang Branner, CEO of Konig Technology, Inc. Konig was featuring four different sized no-stress lines. The compact Artisan SFC is for producing ciabatta and rectangular breads, while the Artisan SFR’s advanced dough dividing and string forming system does away with time-consuming manual production of breads and rolls. The larger Artisan SFI can produce ciabatta and country-style breads. Minimum shear ensures delicate processing of the dough. Additionally, components such as rounding stations and baguette winders can be added. Branner noted that Konig’s Ceres 2.0 uses gravity to divide, allowing for gentle handing of the dough without the use of pistons or extrusion.
With barely a chance to catch our breath, we headed toward DFE Meincke, which had a personal chef serving Italian dishes such as Gnocci al Pesto, Tortellini ai Porcini and Tagliatelle Bolognese that could be washed down with chianti classico. Personally, this reporter would rather just eat and drink, but Das Boss insisted that we examine the company’s new V50 extruder and wire cutter, which can slice up to 180 strokes per minute. The extruder comes with up to three heads that can handle both soft and heavy-duty stiff doughs, and everything from energy bars to chocolate. A recent redesign improves production flexibility and accuracy, with a payback time of 1.5 years on standard deviation alone. The system also has been redesigned for quick cleaning.
Catching our second wind, we hightailed it over Rondo Doge, which rolled out the Rondostar 4000 that has microprocessor-controlled dough sheeters with touch-screen menus, easy-to-understand graphics and capacity for 100 different programs. The focus at Rondo Doge was on featuring faster and more durable, user-friendly systems that are quick to clean. For ciabatta and other doughs with up to 80% water, for instance, Rondo Doge developed the Smart-Feeder, a pre-former that can produce a homogenous, thick dough sheet that can reduce scrap by 20% and increase consistency by nearly one-third. The system can handle both soft and stiff doughs.
By now, it was five o’clock, so we headed over to Fritsch GmbH for a deserving glass of Pils and a chat with Dieter Wolfe, head of marketing, and Dietmar Mertel, general manager of Fritsch USA. Here, they talked about “soft processing” or treating the dough as gently as possible with the lowest amount of stress, friction and heat. Moreover, to minimize stretching and tearing of the dough, the Fritsch Multicut system moves along with the dough sheet to ensure that the dough pieces retain their shape. The company also featured a new line that can produce up to 50,000 croissants per hour. Fritch also makes fully and semi-automated lines that can crank out pizza, artisan breads, baguettes, pretzels, filo dough and much more.
To freshen our breath, we stopped by the International Baking Industry Exposition, where we chatted with Lee Sanders from the American Bakers Association and Bob Kirkpatrick of the IBIE committee, and loaded up on some promotional gum. The cute packaging listed the size of the event, the number of exhibitors and “show facts” in lieu of nutritional information.
All Work and No Play …
After low-key nights at our hotel, it was business-as-usual each morning when we hit the floor of the show, which ran from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. … just long enough for any sane person to develop a phobia of convention centers. Fortunately, grazing on yummy baked goods kept our energy up and our minds sharp and clear.
On the fourth day of the show, for example, we began the morning by snacking on some pastries as we met up with Luc Imberechts, president of Bakon USA Food Equipment, where we scouted out its expanding line of glazing machines, ultrasonic cutting machines and much more. The versatile satellite multi-depositor, for instance, comes with computerized controls that design and control cake batters and other products. Its enrobing and finishing machine is based on a waterfall-type system for creating an assortment of decadent desserts. The system also can coat the bottom of products with a special accessory that pumps the liquid underneath.
For the North American market, Bakon is enlarging its systems for higher volume intermediate and larger wholesale bakers. Additionally, the company specializes in producing portion-controlled products where are in demand across the globe.
“Worldwide, people in the baking industry want to promote healthy products that are driven by convenience,” Imberechts said. “The consumer is focused on eating right with single-serve and handheld, portion-controlled and portable products driving the market.”
With a good sugar buzz going, we had renewed energy to bounce on over to The Peerless Group, where Matt Zielsdorf, vice president of sales and marketing, showed us its Peerless roller bar mixers, which come in sizes ranging from 400 lb. to 3,200 lb. and can produce breads, rolls, buns, tortillas and low-absorption frozen dough with ease. The heavy-duty mixers come with stainless steel jackets on the mixer bowls to efficiently control dough temperatures. Meanwhile, for vend packs and other on-the-go snacks, the two-row Peters sandwich machine can produce up to 1,600 pieces an hour. With the company’s aerating system, bakers can produce sandwich cookies and crackers with lower weights and higher volume to save money.
Revent, Inc. featured a number of ovens for intermediate wholesalers, including its 724 U double-rack gas oven that’s engineered for optimal bottom heat to provide superior oven-jump and maximum lift of products. The system comes with total convection controls, high-volume steam capability and a layered insulation design to maintain heat inside.
Vemag, also known as Reiser in North America, displayed dough portioning for both small and large plants. For example, its ROBOT HP15B has a hydraulic cutter for handling a variety of doughs, ranging from soft batters to hearty whole grain batches.
Over at Rheon, we checked out the stress-free Pizza Spinner, which duplicates hand-tossed crusts at speeds at up to 7,200 pieces an hour. The thought of homemade pizza made our stomachs growl, but there was no rest for the weary, at least not at this huge show.
We stopped by Shaffer Manufacturing Corp., which was featuring its Superbowl open-frame, high-speed, horizontal mixer. The Superbowl has a split hub agitator that can shorten mix times and increase dough development, even in colder temperature doughs.
Then we steamed over to MIWE, which showed off its “pick-up” system that allows for direct transfer of dough pieces to multi-deck and continuous ovens.
At Unifiller, we met up with “Phil the Hopper,” the company’s cartoon mascot, and checked out its flexible productions that can ice and fully decorate everything from half-sheet cakes to double-layer round products at rates of 10 to 24 per minute, depending on the complexity of the item.
Totally exhausted by now, we headed over to Werner & Pfleiderer, where Patricia Kennedy, president of Kemper Bakery Systems, showed us the company’s extensive product line and how it can supply wholesale bakers with turnkey systems. The computer-controlled Magic Line, for instance, is a modularly designed laminating line that can be outfitted with various pre-portioners, adjustable scrapers, reduction stations and cross rollers to produce a wide product range.
By now, the show was becoming a blur, but we kept focused at the task at hand. In the busy Kwik Lok booth, Hal Miller, vice president of sales, discussed how its bag closers are made from environmentally friendly, pure polystyrene with no strengtheners or additives. Additionally, coupons and labels can be affixed to its closers to promote the product’s benefits or cross promote other items in the store.
According to many exhibitors, iba 2006 had strong attendance, and most people were cautiously optimistic about 2007. That was good news.
Even better news: It was finally time to relax. After all, it must be five o’clock somewhere, and if it wasn’t, we were going to change our watches to make it so.
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