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What issues do bakers face this year that they didn’t at the International Baking Industry Exposition held three years ago?

The chairs of the American Bakers Association’s FTRAC committee, Len Heflich and Valerie Wayland, recently told Sosland Publishing that the emphasis on food safety tops a fairly long list of operating issues. Bakers also face a volatile commodities market and increasing demands from consumers for “natural” products and “cleaner” food labels.

Other changes include continued industry consolidation, the apparently permanent increase in commodity costs, increased food safety regulations imposed by both government and third-party audits, and the demonization of gluten. These factors increase the pressure on bakers — on sales, margins, systems, programs and management.

Fortunately, this year’s Baking Expo in Las Vegas will offer solutions for many of these issues. From October 6-9, IBIE offers a record number of educational sessions. Hot topic sessions include presentations on the Food Safety & Modernization Act, an expert panel on plant expansion, managing commodity prices and, of course, the gluten-free trend. For the complete schedule, visit the show’s website at

Actually, some of the action begins before the show opens. The American Bakers Association, in partnership with the Food and Drug Administration, will offer “Food Defense Awareness” as an all-day seminar on Oct. 5. It will provide participants with the tools they need to create a food defense plan.

However, the main reason to come to Baking Expo is to check out what’s new in automation, formulation, and technology. Certainly, the latest in process control systems, labor-saving devices, new ingredients and hygienic equipment designs are just a few priorities topping bakers’ lists.

IBIE 2013 is expected to be bigger than ever, and there are several new features that show organizers developed to make it easier to find what you are looking for.

A new IBIE mobile app, sponsored by DuPont Nutrition & Health (IBIE Booth #5821), makes it easy to navigate the show floor, schedule supplier appointments, make dinner reservations and prepare client entertainment outings. This user-friendly mobile app is available for iPhone, Android and Blackberry 10 devices as well as via the Web for all other mobile gadgets. Everything you need can be saved to the app’s “My Event” section for easy recall.

Are you looking for what’s new at this year’s show? Then you will also want to check out the IBIE Innovation Showcase gallery. It will be located in the main area of the convention center lobby. The Innovation Showcase is a walk-through gallery of posters illustrating some of the cutting-edge technology introduced during the past three years and now on display in person a few steps away. It’s a one-stop shopping experience for the latest advances in just about every industry category. You can also check out the IBIE official Show Directory to learn more about what’s new and who’s exhibiting at the show. And the show dailies provide great news, schedules and reviews of all the meetings, exhibitor showcases and more. These will be digitally delivered each morning to your e-mail, and hard copies will be available at the entry to each show hall.

The clock is ticking down for the big show, and expectations are building to an all-time high. Bakers and suppliers alike are planning their show floor strategies. Don’t wait until the last minute to develop an action plan of your own. Despite the challenges the industry faces, this year’s Baking Expo is an opportunity no baker can afford to miss.