Overcoming tragedy, achieving triumph, IBIE 2001-04

by Laurie Gorton, Baking & Snack
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The 2001 show’s biggest development did not take place on the exhibition floor. Instead, decisions made halfway around the globe and events happening more than a thousand miles away brought IBIE 2001 to a standstill on Tuesday, Sept. 11. That morning, show-goers awaked to news that terrorists piloted two airliners into New York’s World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon. Their fourth hijacked airplane crashed in Pennsylvania, short of its presumed target in Washington, DC.

In the rapidly changing situation, the IBIE Executive Committee shut down the meeting when city authorities evacuated the Las Vegas Convention Center 90 minutes before the show was to open because an unidentified caller reported seeing explosive devices in the building. No bomb was found, but the show remained closed. At the Las Vegas Hilton, IBIE’s headquarters hotel, industry executives milled about the ground floor corridors, seeking information. Many participants struggled to learn the fate of family and friends back East. The attack forced a three-day shutdown of all air travel, stranding 22,000 IBIE attendees and exhibitors in Las Vegas, while an estimated 2,500 others who planned to come missed the show entirely.

When IBIE reopened on Wednesday, the managers extended the hours of the show for its remaining days. Although a stunned, somber atmosphere prevailed, many exhibitors reported good contacts. And the show continued its pattern of emphasis on wholesale bakery processing technology and formulating. Visitors saw an ever-increasing number of systems engineered to handle high-absorption, artisan-inspired doughs while preserving the individuality and handmade characteristics of the finished product.

A system for making bread bags tamper-evident was formally introduced. Automatic bread scoring systems debuted, as did fluorocarbon-based nonstick pan coatings and automated pan inspection systems. This show saw the US launch of xylanase, an anti-staling enzyme rapidly revolutionizing craft baking in Europe and poised to start the extended shelf life trend in bakery formulating.

Baking resurgent

Bakers converging on Las Vegas for IBIE 2004 were ready for better business weather having gone through the “perfect storm” of the low-carb diet fad that battered sales the previous few years. They got it. First, the Foundation for the Advancement of Grain Based Foods (later renamed the Grain Foods Foundation) put its marketing firepower on display for the first time, showing off public relations programs to polish the image of baked foods. Second, a series of “hot topic” seminars, conducted by AIB International, added context to what bakers saw among the exhibits.

From the bakery formulator’s perspective, a new day dawned. Show buzz concerned better-for-you products. It had been widely rumored that the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, to be released in early 2005, would strongly emphasize whole grains. At Expo ’04, an entirely new whole-grain flour debuted, milled from hard white wheat. The launch attracted coverage by USA Today, and the new flour would spark new ideas for baked foods capable of making whole-grain claims. Other ingredient developments included encapsulated chemical leavening systems, new dietary fibers in the form of resistant starches, sugar replacers compatible with low-glycemic-index applications, mineral-enriched yeast and an ample range of shortenings that could replace hydrogenated fats and eliminate trans fats.

The 2004 exposition saw continuing evolution in makeup systems that handle doughs in gentle, low-stress fashion. Other notable equipment developments included a dough reclamation system and oil-free bread dividing. Also, a number of vendors brought out improvements to the “back end” of the bakery to aid order picking, assembly and distribution operations.

For IBIE 2004, the schedule changed to every three years. The new timing, it was hoped, would better dovetail with Europe’s major baking exhibitions and help bring new ideas to the industry at a more frequent rate.

When the Las Vegas Convention Center could not accommodate the fall dates and space required for the 2007 event, IBIE’s joint ABA-BEMA management committee selected the Orange County Convention Center at Orlando, FL.

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