Robb MacKie, president and c.e.o. of American Bakers Association, and Kerwin Brown, BEMA's president and c.e.o., cited multi-dimensional enhancements at IBIE 2016 versus previous shows.
LAS VEGAS  Innovation. Innovation. Innovation.

The mantra leading into International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) 2016 was clear. In the eyes of Robb MacKie and Kerwin Brown, the focus paid off in spades.

Mr. MacKie, president and chief executive officer of the American Bakers Association (ABA), and Mr. Brown, president and c.e.o. of BEMA, discussed successes achieved at IBIE 2016 in an Oct. 9 interview. IBIE is co-sponsored by ABA, BEMA and the Retail Bakers of America.

From the latest in baking equipment and ingredient technology, heightened sophistication in booth displays and turbocharged education to important amenities such as the All-American Tailgate Party, more seating for visitors and seamless Wi-Fi, innovation was apparent in virtually every aspect of this year’s IBIE, the executives said.

“We really challenged exhibitors to bring their best innovation to IBIE this year,” Mr. MacKie said, “whether it is improved sanitation, reduced energy or cleaner labels. I’ve had opportunities to walk the show floor and have seen that’s what bakers are locking in on.”

Mr. MacKie cited a conversation with a ranking baking executive who said he’d already identified three new technologies he has directed his team to explore in follow-up discussions with the suppliers.

“That’s worth the show experience,” he said. “That’s a winner to me. If every single one of our members is doing that, and I know they are, that’s huge.”

Impressing Mr. Brown was not only what was on display but how it was displayed.

“AB Mauri had a virtual reality interactive experience; Shick had a double-decker booth,” he said. “The fabric. The use of electronics. From an equipment side, they are using electronic video boards where you are able to go into the equipment, explode it in 3-D views and see how it operates. I saw a real step up of what people were putting into their booths like never before.”

Attendance at the show was strong with particular gains in international attendance, Mr. MacKie said. The number of exhibitors was up 30% from 2013. A larger international pavilion and expanded educational offerings, including the Fresh Take Talks from the Grain Foods Foundation, were popular draws.

Other enhancements included the Innovation Spotlight Theater and Expert Bar, the Baker’s Dozen Cafe and the All-American Tailgate party. The cafe, located in the middle of the show floor in the Central Hall and providing attendees a place to meet for meals or a rest, was modeled to a degree on iba, the big German show where full-service restaurants in the show halls are principal meeting places for equipment suppliers and potential customers. Mr. MacKie said the cafe helps encourage visitors to stay put during meal times rather than leave for lunch. Similarly, more seating was strategically spread through the show.

The All-American Tailgate, spread across a large span of the exhibition floor, was a unique success, Mr. Brown said.

“I think we knocked it out of the park,” he said.

Attendance topped 2,000 at the event which featured games (from foosball to cornhole), food and libations.

“The party was an informal, casual networking event,” Mr. MacKie said, “an ice breaker where people could make plans for the rest of the show.”