Everyone has different motivations for attending the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE). For many, it’s to see — and perhaps purchase — the latest advances in baking technology. For others, it’s to meet and develop relationships with people from across the industry.
No matter the incentives, attendees agree that the event benefits everyone in the industry. IBIE 2016, held in Las Vegas Oct. 8-11, is striving to be the biggest, most diverse and most educational event to date. Several IBIE regulars and organizers recently shared why bakers keep coming back and why the triennial show has grown into the largest baking event in the western hemisphere.
Event after event, people attend IBIE to see what’s new in the industry. Robb MacKie, president and CEO, American Bakers Association, said attendees can once again expect the latest in bakery equipment and ingredient innovations.
“IBIE 2016 is the perfect venue for bakers to explore solutions to take advantage of opportunities or solve challenges,” Mr. MacKie said.
Exhibitors, both large and small, will feature the newest, most energy-efficient solutions ranging from equipment manufacturers to packaging companies, Mr. MacKie added. The Innovation Showcase will highlight 56 innovative ideas never seen before at IBIE, and attendees can learn more about each innovation at the Idea LAB’s Innovation Spotlight Theater, where presenters will personally introduce today’s latest industry solutions. Innovation across the entire show floor provides a full picture of what’s required to take any baking company to the next level.
Capital investment across the industry is experiencing positive growth, and many bakers at IBIE will be looking to capitalize on this. People will be looking for that unique industry solution that will help grow their business.
Earlier this year, Cypress Research surveyed bakers across the country and found more than half (52%) plan to once again heighten their equipment spending in 2016 over 2015 while 37% will maintain current levels of spending and 11% expect to reduce their budgets. The study also found that 39% of companies reported they would bolster equipment spending yet again in 2017 — the third year in a row for several businesses — while more than half (53%) plan to maintain 2017 spending with 2016 budget levels.
These numbers suggest that IBIE 2016 attendees, more than years past, are coming to IBIE to not only find new items, industry solutions and possibilities but also to purchase them. But capital investment is only part of growing a business; the other key piece is creating personal relationships in the industry.
Robert Benton, senior vice-president and chief manufacturing officer, Flowers Foods, Thomasville, GA, is no stranger to IBIE. He has been attending the event for years, and Flowers Foods regularly brings a strong contingent of employees — about 50 in 2013 — to the show. Mr. Benton said that IBIE brings industry leaders together like no other.
“Seeing everyone in that open environment, in a non-competitive format, and being able to bounce some things off of each other is extremely valuable in keeping those friendships and connections alive,” Mr. Benton said. “Sitting down and seeing somebody face-to-face, nothing compares to that.”
In 2016, there are more opportunities than ever to take advantage of those face-to-face meetings. The All-American Tailgate, set for Saturday, Oct. 8, is one of the new must-attend networking events on opening day of the show. New networking opportunities also include the International Lounge, featuring translators and other technologies to help foster communication, and various other lobbies on the show floor where industry members can recharge and reconnect.
Kerwin Brown, BEMA president and CEO, said the international attendance and participation continues to grow, and more than 100 countries will now be represented at the show.
“When I talk to people about trends, needs and issues in their part of the world, I always learn so much,” Mr. Brown said. “IBIE will certainly make the world a much smaller place for attendees.”
Learning about the industry is best done by immersion — meeting people and seeing how equipment operates in the real world — rather than just in a classroom or through a webinar. And IBIE has the best of both worlds when it comes to education.
Not only can attendees go to the 90 educational sessions scheduled, but they can also dive into real-world applications of the latest ideas by walking the show floor. For Mr. Benton, that’s where some of the greatest lessons are learned.
Mr. Benton said IBIE is the best place to learn about new products and new possibilities.
“You can physically see this equipment operating and running,” he said. “That, to a kinesthetic learner like me, who likes to be able to touch and see and feel rather than sit in a lecture hall, is invaluable.”
Walking the show floor, it’s easy to be awestruck by the sheer size and power of the baking equipment and the smells and sensations emanating from all over the 700,000-sq-ft hall space. Veterans of the industry like Mr. Benton, Mr. MacKie and Mr. Brown can attest to that one-of-a-kind feeling when you walk into IBIE on opening day and they all describe how there is nothing quite like it.“Only at IBIE 2016 will the sheer power of the collective baking industry, bakers and suppliers, be on full display,” Mr. MacKie said.