A tale of two cities, IBIE 2007-10
by Laurie Gorton, Baking & Snack
In the middle of Florida’s rainy season, IBIE met at damp, wet Orlando in 2007; however, inside the show hall, bakery technology developments proved to be plenty hot. Buyer interest and booth action was accordingly strong. “This is a buying and selling show,” said Jack Lewis Jr., chairman of the 2007 show and president of Lewis Bros. Bakeries, Evansville, IN, as he cut the ribbon. “All you bakers, let’s go buy something,”
Show planners enhanced the event’s program content by bringing in AIB International to provide three educational tracks: food safety and security, baking technology, and baking management. The Grain Foods Foundation revealed its new communication program that focuses on functional benefits of grains in the diet. Wheat Foods Council announced its intention to bring a wheat field to New York City in 2008. A sense of theater added to the milieu, with live bakery skills demonstrations by several exhibitors and by members of the Bread Bakers Guild Team USA.
Computerized controls continued their march into baking plants, and 2007 show visitors saw increasing use of servo motors and servo drives. Equipment designers showed a “less is more” approach by engineering bakery machinery to reduce the number of moving parts. Tape closures, first seen years ago in Europe, finally got attention from American bakers. Another staple of European bakery technology — thermal oil heating systems — were exhibited at the show as viable heating options for high-volume bakery ovens.
Bakers also saw a new approach to continuous dough mixing, already proven for making pretzel doughs and now offered for breads. Attention to sustainability resulted in baking pans going thinner, lighter and stronger to achieve conservation objectives. One exhibitor featured a sheeter designed specifically to fabricate chips for baked-not-fried snacks. And robots were put to work decorating cakes.
To address consumer trends favoring healthy alternatives, ingredient exhibitors brought in functional ingredients capable of supporting health claims or structure-function statements. Some vendors positioned these health-and-wellness ingredients as keys to producing value-added baked foods that could carry premium prices to offset an increasingly challenging commodity cost environment. Additional developments featured at this Expo included naturally derived dough conditioners, bake-stable probiotics, low-sodium sea salt and bakery shortenings that offered drop-in solutions to eliminate trans fats. Clean label, as a formulating trend, showed up for the first time, too. And sustainability, as an ingredient sourcing trend, was also discussed.
Competitive skills on view
The year 2010 brought Expo back to Las Vegas for a blockbuster event that covered a half-million sq ft of exhibit space. ABA and BEMA welcomed the Retail Bakers of America (RBA) as a new partner for the event, organized under the theme “Where the Industry Unites.” Another partner group, the Tortilla Industry Association (TIA), co-located its technical conference at the Las Vegas Convention Center just prior to IBIE and provided a free pass to the show for all registrants.
Three world-class live skills competitions brought the excitement of Food Channel-style reality TV right onto the show floor. The Louis Lesaffre Cup tapped IBIE for the Western Hemisphere finals ahead of the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie (World Baking Cup) in Paris. The entire show hall heard the shouts of joy from the Peruvian team who won for the South American region; the USA team topped its region, too. General Mills hosted the Pillsbury Baker’s Plus Grand Champion cake decorating contest, with the California Raisin Marketing Board sponsoring the ceremony where RBA announced the contest’s winners. The World Chocolate Masters US national competition also took place, and an assistant pastry chef from the Bellagio Las Vegas earned its top prize. TLC brought in a TV crew of host and cameramen to capture these events live for viewing on the cable network.
Trends in the baking industry favoring artisan and specialty products were in full force among exhibitors of equipment, packaging and ingredients at the 2010 event. Capturing attention was a new robotic twister for making soft pretzels, the first time it had been seen outside Europe. Deck ovens with automated loading systems also offered technology to ramp artisan production up to commercial scale. Pre-dough mixers debuted, as did waterwheel dividing methods for portioning cookie doughs. Robots continued to make inroads into bakery production with a system that automatically depans muffins.
Space-age science helped boost heating efficiency through application of nanotech emissive particle coatings to the interior of bakery oven chambers. Energy recovery systems were exhibited, and several companies expressed interest in the efforts by the Biscuit & Cracker Manufacturers’ Association involving the Energy Star program developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Efforts to make bakery equipment more cleanable reflected the industry’s growing concern with allergen clean-out problems.
Better-for-you shows up
With whole grains capturing the imagination of consumers and bakers, ingredient handling exhibitors reported rising interest in the conversion of white-flour silos to hold whole-wheat flour. Flatbread, another newly popular product, sparked vendor introductions of makeup lines and horizontal band slicing systems adapted to handle it. The desire to give muffins and cupcakes a handmade look brought show-goers to a booth showing off paper four-corner baking cups. Culinary influences could be seen in many prototype baked foods offered by ingredient exhibitors, and Hispanic baked products earned a larger share of the spotlight.
IBIE has become a major venue to show off progress in baking ingredients, too. In 2010, exhibitors featured newly available vitamin-D-rich bakers yeast, enzymatically interesterified bakery shortenings and introduction of sodium-free leavening agents. Gluten-free surfaced as a serious consumer concern at this event; speakers outlined its benefits and drawbacks, and suppliers introduced gluten-free flours, ingredients and bakery mixes that address formulating needs. Different booths featured sorghum and cassava flours as viable choices for gluten-free foods. And enzymes continued their progress by taking on an additional role, that of emulsifier replacer.
Now, in 2013, the baking industry and its allied trades are getting ready again. So, what’s waiting for IBIE 2013 visitors? Come to Las Vegas, Oct. 6-9, and find out for yourself.