MUNICH, GERMANY – On the last day of what is expected to be one of the most successful iba events, Peter Becker, president of the German Bakers’ Confederation (G.B.C.), announced the show has committed itself to staying in Munich for the next five shows until 2030.
“I think we’ve learned from the past that we need to be consistent on where the show is located,” Mr. Becker said in an exclusive interview. In the past before he became president in 2000, the trade show moved around to various cities, including Hamburg, Berlin and Düsseldorf, based on the previous president’s preferences. He said keeping it in Munich around Oktoberfest has proven highly successful with both exhibitors and attendees.
This year’s show featured 1,309 exhibitors from 57 countries housed in 12 halls in the fairgrounds. That’s 58 more companies than exhibited at the show than three years ago. To draw a comparison on the event’s growth, Mr. Becker noted that iba attracted 900 exhibitors from 37 countries when he became president of the G.B.C.
Although the final numbers are not in, he said preliminary figures indicate that attendance to this year’s show will be approximately 10% above the 2013 exhibition. While the number of German attendees has been declining, the international attendance has been growing much faster, he said.
Part of the problem is the decline of craft or mom-and-pop bakeries in his homeland.
“In Germany, the bakery market is shrinking,” noted Mr. Becker, a former craft baker himself. “We lost 1,500 bakeries in the last three years.”
That’s due to changes in the highly competitive market for baked goods. Although highly respected for their quality bread, craft bakers face huge competition from supermarkets and retail shops supplied daily from central commissaries. Years ago, these scratch bakeries often worked five days with two days off. And, they had three weeks of vacation. Now, bakeries are open six or seven days a week, and most Germans take up to six weeks of vacation annually. The math simply doesn’t work.
Another factor is that the younger generation — often called millennials — do not want to work the long hours that the baking industry requires. As a result, many family bakeries have no succession plans and no option but to close. It’s the old high-tech/low-tech conundrum.
But the labor problem is a global situation for the baking industry, especially in the United States, which is why many wholesalers attended iba to seek out innovation to alleviate labor issues and find ways to lower costs as regulatory statutes such as health care that have become a greater burden for businesses.
In many ways, iba 2015 was a much different show than in the past. Back in the 1990s, the event reflected the G.B.C., which is a craft bakers’ organization. Today, Mr. Becker estimates that about 60% of exhibitors are focused on industrial while 40% target the craft market.
“Right now, the show represents the balance of the industry, both the industrial side and the craft side,” he explained.
That’s not surprising. In Germany, more than 60% of bread and rolls come from wholesale or industrial bakeries, he said. Many of those products are produced by central commissaries, and then sold at retail bakeries they own, as many Americans see as they travel by train or plane. In-store bakery has grown significantly. Fresh baked on a true craft level is a declining trade.
Walking through the convention from Sept. 12-17, it was easy to note that iba has grown into a much more of a wholesale or industrial baking exhibition. While the exhibiting numbers for industrial and craft remain fairly close, the amount of space targeting commercial baking is much bigger. That’s just a matter of size of the equipment. It’s the size of their exhibits.
“If you are in a hall and see an industrial oven, it’s very impressive,” Mr. Becker noted. “If you go to another hall, obviously the craft oven is not as big. Industrial was increasing over the years, and their space is greater.”
During the interview, Mr. Becker reflected on his 15-year career as president of iba.
“I was very happy with the exhibition turnout,” he said. “This is one of the best.”
Although his presidency is over as he retires, he hopes iba will invite more ingredient and flour milling companies to exhibit at the show. Additionally, Mr. Becker observed that that he liked the American Society of Baking’s (A.S.B.) Hall of Fame ceremonies, which he thought iba may consider for a future event.
“I was very impressed with how they recognized people in the past,” he said.
Globally, as far as competition, iba looks at I.B.I.E. and Bakery China as the primary competitors to this show, Mr. Becker said. Some exhibitors suggested that Bakery China or interpack may be in the mix, but Mr. Becker believes iba and I.B.I.E. bakery shows are the premier events for the industry. He said he hopes for greater cooperation between the groups going forward.