I recently attended my first IBIE (International Bakery Industry Exposition) this past weekend, in Las Vegas, and it was definitely an interesting experience. Bakers, food and ingredient producers, and equipment manufacturers all flock to the show, which is held every three years, and many are debuting new products or equipment. 

One thing is for certain, you'll never go hungry at IBIE. My first appointment on Saturday was with Dawn Foods, a Jackson, MI-based company that was showcasing several new items. A big focus for Dawn was on trends—eight in particular, including Luxury Revalued, No Passport Required, Throwback Thursday Everyday, That’s Eater-tainment, Mashup Mania, The Best of Both Worlds, Mealtime 2.0, and My Food’s Backstory. Dawn was also hosting the “Donut Party,” a clever spin-off of the current election season, where there were 10-20 variations of donuts to taste; attendees could then vote for their favorite flavor.

At the Kerry booth, I tried a “dirty chai muffin,” a clean label muffin with Kerry’s Biobake enzymes, a PHO free emulsifier system for extended shelf-life, and real Sumatra coffee extract, among other ingredients. It tasted like the chai tea lattes I favor at Starbucks, and it was delicious.

“Clean label” was one of the major buzzphrases at IBIE, as well as “gluten free,” “non-GMO,” and “better for you”—which wasn’t surprising, because these are the trends that the snack and bakery industry have been focusing on this year. If you look on the right-hand column on our website (where you found this editorial column, perhaps), most of the products featured have some combination of these trends, if not all of them. “Gluten-free” is no longer just for those who have Celiac Disease, too—some who go gluten-free are trying to avoid gluten in order to live healthier lives.

At Blue Diamond Growers’ booth, we talked about almond flour, a viable substitute for gluten-free flours, and the company had a cookbook with almond flour recipes; I may try out some of these at home, as they all sound delicious, especially the almond macarons and the crispy Italian chicken breasts with marsala sauce.

Cargill has been focusing on its shortenings, specifically its Regal Icing Shortening NH, which has no hydrogenated oils and is 20% lower in saturated fats than most palm-oil-based shortenings. The shortening can be used in cakes and cupcakes, and is healthier for you than some of the other shortenings on the market. I tried its puff pastry shell, which had been inserted with non-hydrogenated icing, and it was very tasty.

I feasted on a mini cupcake from the Qualisoy booth, which was made with interestified soybean oils, and which was also free from trans fats. At the American Key Foods press conference, the company was showing off its rice flours, and I sampled a Brazilian cheese bread mix (Pao de Queijo), which was also gluten-free, non-GMO, and clean label—the three buzzphrases, again.

Arla Foods Ingredients is getting in on the “better for you” trend as well—the fluffy choco-banana bar that I tasted, though small, has the same amount of calcium as one glass of milk. The company is working on egg white replacements, too, and helping to make products that are 50% or 100% egg-free.

Sprouted wheats and ancient grains were another trend at IBIE, and Bay State Milling is one such example: it just received Non-GMO Project Verified status for its Woodland, CA and Bolingbrook, IL facilities, and it’s focusing on sprouted and organic plant-based ingredients, specifically in breads, rolls, pizzas, snacks, bars, and other foods. Its BeneGrain products range from sprouted whole wheat, to rye, to chia seed, and “the proof is in the loaf,” as it says: sprouted whole wheat flour enhances volume, grain texture and crumb when compared to conventional whole wheat flour, based on tests performed at its Rothwell GrainEssentials Center in Quincy, Mass.

Since the trends at IBIE mimic what we’ll soon see in "real life"—if you haven’t seen some of them already—keep an eye out at your local grocery store for plant-based, gluten-free, non-GMO, and clean label products. I noticed recently that my local Target actually has a section in the frozen aisle that’s labeled “plant-based,” which surprised me; but really, it shouldn’t have, since I’m sure there’s a gluten-free aisle somewhere in the store as well, or at the very least, an abundance of gluten-free products from which to choose.