MUNICH — For Michael Wippler, president of the German Bakers Confederation, trade shows are all about making connections. The confederation, which sponsors iba that runs Sept. 15-20 in Munich, has worked closely with Gesellschaft für Handwerksmessen (GHM), the organizer of iba, over the past three years to reach out to the industry across the globe to bring everyone together at this year’s big trade fair.
“One of my responsibilities involves, among other things, travelling around the world and exchanging ideas with members of the international bakery trade,” Mr. Wippler said. “It is amazing what positive feedback iba receives around the world, on every continent. As far as I am concerned, this proves one thing yet again: Baking connects people.”
In an interview with Dan Malovany, editorial director of Baking & Snack magazine, Mr. Wippler, a certified master baker, discussed the must-see events at the show and the state of the baking industry.
Baking & Snack: What are the major trends in the international baking industry, and how have they changed over the past five years?
Michael Wippler: The out-of-home and to-go area is an important trend, which has seen a sharp increase globally in the past five years. Baked goods, snacks and coffee are increasingly being consumed on-the-go and no longer at home. In addition to this, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan baked goods are becoming more and more popular — not just in the Anglo-Saxon world, but also in Africa, Iran and Asia.
The “Back to the Roots” theme, or a return to regional specialties, is yet another trend. 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. 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.
How has iba changed in response to these major trends?
Mr. Wippler: iba is constantly evolving, meaning that its visitors can discover and experience all the important trends and themes. It goes without saying that we as the sponsor and GHM as the organizer of the trade fair showcase the changes in the market in specially allocated areas. To give you an example, the topic of snacks has been given its own large stage that will be expanded at iba 2018 with iba.TO GO!. Here visitors can learn everything about the growing area of the out-of-home market. The iba.OPERATE! area is also new. This area is all about packaging and the processes it involves.
In addition, knowledge transfer, continuous professional development and information play a key role. After all, only if you are informed and recognize the trends and developments, and know how to take advantage of them, can you be one crucial step ahead of your competitors. In this regard, iba offers an incredible treasure trove in the form of its iba.SPEAKERS CORNER and iba.FORUM, where international experts pass on their know-how daily in lectures and discussions. Every visitor benefits from this.
How would you describe the state of the baking industry in Europe?
Mr. Wippler: Countless statistics reflect the continuous process of concentration. The number of bakeries is going down with many of them becoming retail chain stores. The food retailing industry, too, must now be regarded as a serious competitor. Baked goods produced on a large scale are trying more and more to match the quality of traditional bakeries, especially in the frozen section.
What areas of the globe are experiencing the biggest growth in the baking and snack industries and why?
Mr. Wippler: Without a doubt it is the regions that are not traditionally “bread countries.” This includes the Asian region, like Iran, which no longer just makes flatbreads but also Western-style bread, such as baguettes.
To some extent we are seeing similar developments in Africa, too. A middle class is being created in these regions. This means that the standard of living is improving, which in turn results in a change in behavior: People are increasingly consuming “out of home” — bread and baked goods are perfect for this.
How is iba reaching out to attract a broader audience from across the globe?
Mr. Wippler: iba stands for quality and the unique opportunity to see the machines live and in action here. This is unique in the world. To make visitors and exhibitors enthusiastic about iba, we have been travelling extensively at home and abroad, and we present this trade fair on every continent. This is how we get into contact with the relevant disseminators in all the key markets. In this endeavor, we always seek to speak to journalists as well as current and potential exhibitors who, in turn, motivate customers to attend iba.
Through the organizers of this trade fair, we also have access to an extensive network of representations abroad who promote iba globally. Finally, the “International Union of Bakers and Confectioners” (UIBC) supports this trade fair as a professional partner. UIBC represents around 300,000 businesses on five continents, and it unites the baking and confectionery industry worldwide more extensively than any other association.
What innovations and advances in baking technology do you expect iba 2018 attendees will see?
Mr. Wippler: iba is the trade fair for true innovations and premieres. A lot of businesses have organized their production cycle in such a way that they can present their innovations every three years at iba. Whether it is new procedures, new machines and systems, the whole area of digitalization and automation, energy efficiency, hygiene, innovative shop design and equipment, or new flavors, recipes and trends in the areas of marketing and sales — visitors can expect to see a range of innovations from every area of the industry at iba. That’s why everyone wants to and should attend this trade fair, be it artisan bakers, chains, or large businesses.
What are some of the must-see special plans and events?
Mr. Wippler: I definitely recommend the international competitions, the iba-UIBC Cup of Bakers, and the UIBC junior world championship of confectioners. At these events, the best in the world compete against each other in fully-equipped bakeries set up and by themselves.
The Virtual Bakery Tours are also interesting and exciting. They allow visitors to e-meet their international colleagues and to discover what makes them so successful in their country. Especially for international visitors, the guided bakery tours are also intriguing. Bakeries in Munich and the region open their doors, and they show them the secret of the Germany bakery trade. In addition, visitors can attend seminars by the Akademie des Deutschen Bäckerhandwerks (German National Bakers Academy). And in Hall B3 we offer workshops in English, in which participants learn under the guidance of experts how German specialties such as pretzels or cheesecake are made.
There is one event that I do not want to forget to mention: the iba.OKTOBERFEST. This is where exhibitors and visitors enjoy the end of a successful day at the trade fair in an Oktoberfest tent, with authentic Bavarian specialties and live music.