I was visiting with a baker about a speaking opportunity at an upcoming conference. He explained to me the topic of the speech, the size of the conference, even the size of the room. And he described this particular gathering and its attendees as “collegial.” He said it’s a place where bakers and suppliers come together and, for a few days, put competition aside and celebrate their commonalities.

That word struck a chord with me because it’s the very one I used to describe the baking industry when I first joined Sosland on our sister publication bake magazine. I appreciated how artisan bakers supported one another through idea sharing, and it often made for great editorial content. After all, for an independent retail shop, another bakery outside a few miles’ radius might not be considered competition.

Then I joined Baking & Snack and the commercial side of the industry, and I erroneously assumed all that would change. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Sure, there are trade secrets and proprietary information that ensure healthy competition in the marketplace. That’s what makes the world go ’round.

But there are certain settings where the curtain comes down, and competitors — whether they’re bakers or suppliers — become colleagues, perhaps even friends. In groups such as the American Bakers Association, BEMA, the American Society of Baking, CASBA, SNAC International, Retail Bakers of America … the list goes on … members of this industry come together to learn from one another and figure out how to tackle challenges in automation, workforce, sanitation and more.

That will only intensify in Las Vegas this fall at the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE), to be held Sept. 7-11, when the industry comes together for one of the largest bakery trade shows on the planet. IBIE — Baking Expo to you vets — epitomizes the collegiality of baking on every level.

Of course, every exhibitor will vie for the attention of the thousands of attendees walking the show floor, but at events like the All-American Tailgate, the networking will know no bounds … or borders. The Expo also has partnered with other shows like iba, held in Munich, to host virtual reality bakery tours, and it will welcome international trade groups, including the Taipei Bakers Association.

Artisan bakers can discover how to scale up, and wholesalers can learn a thing or two from the craft shops on what the trendiest consumers want most from their food. Everyone in the industry will have a chance to network and ideate, all the while getting down to the business of baking.

IBIE is coming, and as the show’s official media ­provider, Baking & Snack, in partnership with several other Sosland publications, will be the conduit to all the information you’ll need to navigate the show. Before you get there, be sure to pick up a copy of our IBIE PreShow Guide. It covers the industry from every possible perspective and is sure to get you in the right mindset as you head to the show.

The collegiality of baking is what makes this industry so special, and I can’t wait to see it in action. I hope you learn from your colleagues and competitors … and I hope that doesn’t stay in Vegas.