All eyes on iba

by Dan Malovany
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New technology joins the Old World wholesomeness of European-style baked foods at iba 2012, to be held Sept. 16-21 in Munich, Germany. This year’s trade show is expected to be bigger than previous ones with more than 1,600 exhibitors from around the globe filling 12 halls compared with 10 halls at iba 2009. In all, exhibitors will take up more than 1.4 million sq ft of the city’s main convention center.

In addition to being larger than previous shows, iba 2012 will draw a greater percentage of international attendees than in the past, according to Peter Becker, president of the German Bakers’ Confederation, which hosts the event every three years. In fact, more than half of show visitors will come from outside Germany, although the bulk of them are expected to travel from nearby European countries.

In all, nearly 80,000 baking professionals from 157 countries attended the show three years ago. According to iba organizers, 44% of previous attendees came to see baking equipment, 38% for raw materials and ingredients, 33% for ovens and accessories, 23% for pastry-making items, and 22% for packaging systems and materials.

This year, packaging is expected to have a greater presence on the show floor. More than 140 companies will feature everything from economical or environmentally friendly packaging alternatives to automated wrappers, palletizers, labelers and product tracking systems.

More than automation

Munich iba will address a number of emerging trends as well as new twists on well-established ones. Demand for more nutritious products, for instance, continues to gain momentum on a global basis. “Keywords here are gluten-free bread or low-carb products,” said Dieter Dohr, chairman of the management board of GHM Gesellschaft für Handwerksmessen mbH and organizer of iba 2012.

Likewise, automating artisan bread production will remain popular, especially as advances in technology uncover different techniques for handling sticky, high-moisture or heavy-grain doughs more gently. Wraps, naan, pita and other forms of flatbreads have dramatically increased in popularity in not only the US but also the international marketĀ­place since the last iba three years ago. Expect a bevy of exhibitors to jump on this trend.

With emergence of the Global Food Safety Initiative, bakers should expect sanitary design integrated into new equipment, according to Kerwin Brown, BEMA’s president and CEO. Heightened awareness of food safety will prompt many manufacturers to make ease of sanitation and simplified maintenance standard features on equipment today, he noted.

Once again, sustainability will be omnipresent at this year’s show — especially for companies based in Europe, where green initiatives are more prevalent and the price of energy is significantly higher than in the US. “Certainly the subjects of process optimizations and energy efficiency will be very important at iba,” Mr. Becker said.

Pent-up demand

During a visit to promote iba at this spring’s American Bakers Association’s annual convention, Mr. Becker pointed out that the largest exhibition spaces had been sold out for months, and the show could only accommodate smaller exhibitors despite renting out two more halls than in 2009. “We had one company tell us they wanted to have a major exhibit, but we couldn’t do it because all of the large areas are not available anymore,” he said.

During the recent technical conference of the Biscuit and Cracker Manufacturers’ Association, several tabletop exhibitors explained why they are also planning to exhibit at iba 2012.

“We go as much for our North American customers as for new international customers. It’s a great opportunity to interact with everyone,” said Dennis Gunnell, vice-president, sales and marketing, Formost Fuji Corp., Woodinville, WA.

Norm Searle, COO, Axis Automation, noted the Hartland, WI-based company expects a clearer global perspective in the baking industry. “We’re hoping to get a world view,” he said. “What is the world’s marketplace for us? Who are the customers? Who are the competitors? What do they buy? How do they buy it?”

For Reading Bakery Systems, iba and interpack are the two biggest European shows for the Robesonia, PA, company, according to Jim Warren, Reading’s director of Exact mixing. “We have a lot of customers in Europe, and it’s a chance to keep up with them,” Mr. Warren explained. “We feel like we offer unique technologies and processes that aren’t readily available from European suppliers. Forty-three percent of everything we sell is international, so it’s a big part of our marketing strategy.”

For ShickUSA, Kansas City, MO, this is the first time it’s exhibiting at the German show. “With our continued international reach, we think this is a good opportunity to continue that momentum with existing and potential new international customers,” noted Scott Fisher, director of sales and marketing. “We’ll also look for partnerships that will benefit Shick’s marketing strategy.”

Reaching the Summit

New to this year’s event is the iba Summit, a daylong seminar to be held on Sept. 15, the day before the exhibition floor opens. Created by the German Bakers’ Confederation, the summit will focus on food safety as well as changing trends among consumers and how bakers should be marketing their products to them, according to Mr. Becker.

Keynote speakers include EU officials as well as business leaders and university professors who will explore the latest in health, nutrition and sustainability as well as evolving retail strategies and practical ways in which the baking industry can feed tomorrow’s world, Mr. Dohr said.

During the show, Mr. Becker said, visitors will have a chance to tour bakeries in the region surrounding Munich. For more information on these tours and other related events, visit www.iba.de. Many equipment suppliers also are organizing private tours of bakeries throughout Europe for their current and prospective customers.

In addition to displaying new equipment for larger industrial bakeries, iba’s exhibitors cater equally to the craft and artisan baking community, according to Mr. Becker. About one-fifth of visitors from previous iba shows attend for cake decorating suggestions or to see par-baked products. During the show, teams from 14 countries, including the US, will vie in two separate competitions for bakers and for confectioners. German master bakers also will battle for the national championship.

 “At iba 2012, you can find out all about baking, which is interesting for companies of any size,” Mr. Becker noted.

Moreover, the exhibition provides baking professionals with a central location where they network and exchange ideas with other experts in the industry, Mr. Dohr observed. “Nowhere is it possible to obtain information about the current state of the industry in a more concentrated and compact form than at the leading international trade fair,” he said.

In each of the dozen halls, he added, visitors will see exhibitors baking products and demonstrating the latest techniques and processes to produce a wide variety of international products. “iba is the only trade fair in the world to cover the entire market overview from A to Z — from appliances and aroma all the way to zest and zwieback,” Mr. Dohr said.

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