It was just a matter of time before virtual reality became a mainstay of baking industry trade shows. At iba 2018, which runs from Sept. 15-20 in Munich, visitors will be able tour popular bakeries in Germany, France, Greece, Iceland and even the United States via virtual reality glasses.

The bakers not only introduce themselves, but they guide people through their facilities virtually. The iba team visited bakeries in these countries that are known far beyond their region and that epitomize the passion for the trade.

“Most of them are small businesses but one of them is a large-scale bakery,” noted Michael Wippler, president of the German Baker’s Confederation.

While the virtual tours allow international visitors to hear and see bakeries, iba also offers the opportunities to visit nearby Bavarian bakeries in real life where they can sample local specialties instead of experiencing them virtually. As iba approaches, Mr. Wippler pointed out that gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan baked goods are becoming more popular not only in Europe and North America, but also in Africa, Iran, and parts of Asia.

He also noted a global “Back to the Roots” theme, or a return to regional specialties in many markets.

“As a result, we are seeing a trend of bakeries moving away from being mere providers of goods, and instead focusing more on the enjoyment of baked goods,” he said. “Baking is presented in a new way, and it is purposely made to look stylish. Baking is trendy, and this is true anywhere in the world.”

When it comes to the international baking industry, it’s all about “the experience.” It doesn’t matter if it’s virtual, in real life or both.