When it comes to assessing the success of an International Baking Industry Exposition, caution is generally warranted during and just after the show. With the large amount of work that goes into an Expo and its importance to the sponsoring organizations, enthusiastic reviews need to be treated soberly, particularly given the challenges experienced at certain recent shows.

Still, it is impossible for anyone present at last week’s I.B.I.E. in Las Vegas to conclude the 2013 Expo was anything but an amazing success. That exhibit space sales were likely to be strong had been known ahead of time, but attendance and traffic impressed even longtime Expo veterans. Factors strengthening the show included greater attention by exhibitors to showcasing a variety of innovations of genuine interest, a vibrant retail baking presence, a positive environment for capital spending with strong incentives for the adoption of new technologies and successful ancillary activities put on by the event’s organizers.

Another favorable factor influencing this year’s event was the structural changes that have occurred in baking. In contrast with the past, suppliers were not dealing with their largest customers facing severe financial problems and constraints that stood in the way of appropriate spending on capital improvements and new developments. The ruddy health of the customer base cast a welcome halo over a highly successful event and created a palpable sense of optimism for the future of grain-based foods.