From Russia with trade

by Laurie Gorton
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The mission wasn’t a secret one, nor was it impossible. On the contrary, it proved quite successful and opened new trade connections between American bakery suppliers and Russian bakers at Modern Bakery Moscow, April 23-26. BEMA, the American association representing baking industry machinery and materials suppliers, operated a pavilion at the show held at the Expocenter Fairgrounds in Moscow that attracted more than 15,000 visitors from 43 countries.

Becoming more involved in international trade shows leads BEMA’s strategic plan. “We are actively helping members go international,” explained Kerwin Brown, the association’s president and CEO. Last year, it picked events held in two BRIC countries. Mr. Brown evaluated a trade fair in China, while Jerry Kallman, president of Kallman Associates, Inc., Waldwick, NJ, attended one in Russia. Kallman Associates organizes BEMA’s participation at iba, the large German bakery show in Munich. “Together, we decided that Modern Bakery Moscow offered the best opportunity,” Mr. Brown said.

Seven BEMA companies bought booths in the BEMA Pavilion, although one withdrew shortly before the event. “Even so, we met our objectives,” Mr. Brown observed. The participants were Auto-Bake, Pty. Ltd., Hornsby, Australia; Bettendorf Stanford, Inc., Salem, IL; Bundy Baking Solutions, Urbana, OH; Burford Corp., Maysville, OK; Kwik Lok Corp., Yakima, WA; and Satin Fine Foods, Chester, NY. BEMA staffed its pavilion with five translators and offered a lounge.

Other BEMA companies sent representatives to Mos-cow, who used the pavilion as their base of activities, according to Mr. Brown. Many BEMA members with international parent companies also exhibited at the show.

“For our exhibitors, the show was a mix of seeing established customers and meeting new ones,” Mr. Brown said. A number of companies sat down with agents and distributors to discuss possible business agreements. These meetings were facilitated by Darya Kolesnikova, a US Commerce Department commercial specialist stationed at the American Embassy in Moscow.

Before the show opened, Ms. Kolesnikova gave the BEMA pavilion exhibitors a briefing about doing business in Russia and set up a tour of JCS Proletrets, a wholesale bakery. She also assisted with local arrangements just as she had for the large contingent of Russian bakers who attended IBIE 2013 in Las Vegas.

The event featured 212 exhibitors from 22 countries. Although most were from Russia, the German pavilion had 41 exhibitors. This marks the 20th year for the Moscow baking expo, organized by O/W/P Ost-West-Partners GmbH, Nürenburg, Germany, which specializes in running events in Russia.

In the days right before Modern Bakery Moscow, some participants expressed concerns about what the current political tensions between the US and Russia might mean to the American exhibitors. Because of this, the pavilion’s signage identified only BEMA.

On the show floor, however, those worries quickly evaporated. Mr. Brown reported, “When asked, people would say, ‘That’s politics. This is business.’ We heard it a lot.” On the second day, BEMA added small American flags to the pavilion stands.

Translators proved essential to the pavilion’s business because most attendees spoke only Russian. The post-show report noted that 92% of visitors came from Russia. Predominantly from the industrial segment of the baking industry, nearly half of attendees indicated they were owners, CEOs or senior managers of their bakery and confectionery (pastry) operations.

The show provided an extensive program of 12 seminars consisting of 106 lectures from 147 experts. A special session on “Bread as the basis for a healthy diet” was well attended, and the expo once again featured the Moscow Confectionery Art Cup competition.

BEMA surveyed the members participating in this event. “The responses so far have been very positive,” Mr. Brown said. “I think we built some great resources and gained some valuable experience through the process.”

Modern Bakery Moscow decided to shorten next year’s event to three days, April 24-26. For information about the show, visit www.modernbakery-moscow.com. BEMA’s calendar of events is at www.bema.org.             

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