IBIE is almost upon us (Las Vegas Convention Center, September 18–21), and Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery was able to talk to Robb MacKie, president and CEO, American Bakers Association, about what exhibitors should be doing to get ready for this influx of bakers.

Liz Parker: How is IBIE doing with attendance numbers so far for this year’s show? What about compared to 2019’s numbers? 

Robb MacKie, ABA
Robb MacKie
Robb MacKie: It’s always difficult to tell given that so many registrations come in during the final month leading up to IBIE, but we couldn’t be happier with the way registration is pacing for IBIE 2022. In comparison with this time in the previous show cycle, bakers are trending ahead significantly. While the proportion of wholesale vs retail bakers remains on par, the volume we’re seeing from each group is pacing more than 20% ahead.  

With so many changes in the business landscape over the past 2+ years, and the fact that IBIE is the most significant grain-based foods event in the Western Hemisphere, it’s clear that there’s pent-up demand and bakers will be turning out in a big way.  

This is a time when the event industry is still in recovery and many shows are still seeing 20-30% less registrations. The fact that we’re trending ahead by as much makes me feel very proud and fortunate that the baking community is still very strong—and that they see IBIE has a critical resource.  

LP: What should exhibitors do to get ready for this influx of bakers? Anything exhibitors should know before attending the show? 

RM: The global industry is eager to reunite at IBIE, and the excitement is palpable. Not only that, but the numbers speak for themselves. Exhibitors should take note of the attendee pacing and what that means for their booth engagement strategy and staffing. Exhibiting companies may have tried their hand at virtual events, or smaller regional shows, and adapted to the new venues and demand, however at this rate, exhibitors should prepare to be back on stage at full-scale. 

Aside from having enough booth staff to meet with your ideal audience, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) Attendee Engagement study also shows us that the variety of job functions for the booth staff is also an important factor in connecting in ways most valuable to attendees. Sales and marketing staff are most common, but many attendees are hungry to discuss technical aspects with the experts, and form relationships with executive management.  

LP: How will this year’s show be different from the 2019 show? 

RM:  Since we last met in 2019, the Las Vegas Convention Center has undergone a $1 billion dollar expansion, and renovation. IBIE will continue to call Las Vegas Convention Center’s North Hall home, and for the first time the expo campus will include the brand-new West Hall. This state-of-the-art facility is brimming with features to enhance the attendee experience including interactive digital signage and video walls, and a new food hall. The LVCC now boasts an underground Tesla Loop transit system to shuttle attendees between halls too. 

[Education-wise], it's not business as usual for our industry, so we’ve put together the most robust education program in the expo’s 100+ year tenure as a resource for bakers to navigate today’s terrain.  

With the “Great Resignation” and “Great Reshuffle,” we all have new employees who many not come from the baking industry. IBIE is a great platform for new employees to get training and a better understanding of the baking industry as a whole.  

Sample Wholesale Sessions: 

  • Lessons Learned While Addressing Sesame Seed at Commercial Bakeries
  • How Health & Wellness Trends Influence Snacking & Bakery Trends
  • GrowWise—Use Career Development to Attract, Grow and Retain the Best  
  • Breaking Through the Digital Noise—Strategies, Tactics and Tools to Get Your Bakery Noticed Online
  • Robots in the Workforce
  • Supply Chain Challenges — A Panel Discussion Presented by ABA
  • Hydration! What Is It, and What Are the Benefits Using It in the Baking Industry?
  • Sample Retail Sessions:
  • Building an Online Business with Email & Text Message Marketing
  • Leveraging FREE Press to Increase Brand Recognition, Bolster Credibility and Generate Sales  
  • Quickly Decorated Cookies for Maximum Profit  
  • Understanding the 4 Cost Categories That Go into Pricing for Profit
  • Tips and Tricks for Better Efficiency at Your Bakery
  • Extreme Cake Maker Molly Robbins Creates a 3D Realistic Tiger 

Organizations that contributed to the new program include American Bakers Association, American Society of Baking, American Cake Decorating Magazine, Bakery Equipment Manufacturers and Allieds (BEMA), Bread Bakers Guild of America, Retail Bakers of America, and Tortilla Industry Association. 

Remaining true to IBIE’s mission to serve the industry by providing the most relevant content and inspiring experiences, we’re debuting two new Pavilions at IBIE 2022.   

One focuses on the business of cannabis baked goods (Cannabis Central) and the other on sanitation solutions (an increasingly important topic with the allergy designation of sesame). Aside from gathering exhibitors together based on these areas of expertise, the Cannabis Central pavilion will also offer a host of educations sessions about the business of cannabis baked goods (and confections).   

For the first time, the Tiptree World Bread Awards USA will take place at IBIE. These awards recognize extraordinary loaves in over 15 different product categories. A panel of expert judges will evaluate the entries live on the show floor, followed by an award ceremony. 

Duff Goldman, and his cover band Foie Grock, at The Rockin’ Pint will play on Monday night at IBIE. This chef-led ensemble will perform alternative rock hits from bands such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Queen, the Kinks, the Beatles, the Clash, and more. Admission is free for IBIE participants, but space is limited so be sure to save the date: Monday, Sept. 19 | 5–6 PM | West Hall | Ballroom W326.

We’re bringing back some of our most popular show features, including Artisan Marketplace, BEST in Baking Industry Awards, Creative Cake Decorating Competition, and Innovation Showcase. Each one of these show features highlights trends and important topics in their respective areas.   

We’ve also elevated a few of our show features: 

  • In 2022 the enhanced Artisan Marketplace will not only serve content on craft bread, but also expand to cover pastry and chocolate as well.  
  • The BEST in Baking Industry Awards have been expanded to include two new categories: Automation/Robotics and Plant Efficiency, as well as returning categories, sanitation, workforce development, and product innovation. You can learn about these best-in-class winners during the awards ceremonies on-site Sept. 20 and 21.  

The live-action competition for Cake Decorating has evolved to include the hyper realistic sculpted cake trend known as, “Everything is Cake”.  

The Innovation Showcase debuts only the newest product and technology – never before seen at IBIE.  

Other returning features include: the action-packed RBA Bakers Center, the International Trade Center, Great American Pie Festival, Pizza Information Center and we’ve renamed the 20-minute TED style talks designed to inspire and shed light on industry hot topics to QUICKBITES (which stands for Baking Industry Talks & Educational Stories).  

LP: What are some top things attendees should know about IBIE before attending the show? 

RM: Aside from the excitement of competition, compelling displays of creativity, industry awards, and networking events that I just described, IBIE offers the entire supply chain under one roof. With hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of products on display, it’s important to prioritize your goals and do a little research in advance. Pinpoint your top three challenges and opportunities and identify the exhibitor categories and education tracks that will best serve your business. This could mean booking appointments with exhibitors, registering for an IBIEducate session, or creating your own schedule of free demonstrations in the mobile app.