In the three years since the last International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE), our industry has faced a changing political landscape, a changing workforce and a changing consumer. Thanks to input from our valued members and trusted industry partners, the American Bakers Association (A.B.A.) helped guide this year’s IBIE programming. With that knowledge, we are confident that the show will help address issues important to all of us: legislative and regulatory policy shifts, solutions for our dynamic workforce and industry-specific consumer trends.

A changing political landscape

Navigating the halls of IBIE is complex, as is navigating the halls of Congress and the maze of U.S. regulatory agencies. As we head into an election year after welcoming new faces to the 116th Congress and federal agencies, several issues remain a constant, one of which is the new bioengineering labeling requirements with the new Nutrition Facts Label.

Along the same lines, it is important for bakers to understand policy initiatives underway in key states as well as how to make sure their bakeries are in line with changing — and impending — federal regulations.

Our industry has consistently shown its dedication to sustainability, through partnerships with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, for example. ABA is gathering information to help bakers reduce their solid waste for inbound items as well as product packaging. We are an industry of action — and we believe we are an industry of solutions.

A changing workforce

The baking industry is fortunate to have a dedicated, passionate and highly skilled workforce nearly 800,000 strong. However, in a tight labor market and supercharged economy, attracting and retaining talent has been a challenge. It is critical for our industry to show baking as not just a job but a lifelong career.

Bringing along and supporting the next generation of leaders for the baking industry is vital to our future success. Baking companies around the world are facing a multi-generational challenge in the marketplace and workforce. The A.B.A. is hosting an all-star discussion of industry executives at the NextGenBaker Global Leadership Forum. Corporate leaders from Dawn Foods, Grupo Bimbo, Flowers Foods, and The Kroger Co., will share their unique perspectives on these challenges and leadership lessons they have learned along the way.

The IBIEducate program — of which the A.B.A. is contributing 16 sessions — is the largest baking education program in the world. There’s programming for retail and wholesale. People in anything from management and R.&D. to sanitation and engineering have sessions that will help grow their career — and their company.

A changing consumer

With so many dietary patterns, more global flavors and an emerging consumer vertical in Gen Z, it is vital for bakers to be nimble while also understanding the emotional power of their products. Recent A.B.A. thought leadership projects like the “Power of Bakery 2019” report in partnership with the F.M.I., sponsored by Corbion, as well as A.B.A.’s 2019 study: “Attracting Millennial and Gen Z Customers,” showed the industry’s opportunity to capture the modern consumer.

Findings from our two studies surprised even the seasoned researchers conducting them, but one was no surprise: Consumers have a deep emotional connection with bakery products. I see evidence in many categories that bakers are making the needed adjustments to meet those changing consumer tastes.

The A.B.A. is delighted to be a co-owner of IBIE along with BEMA and in partnership with Retail Bakers of America. Please take the time to visit us at the A.B.A./BEMA booth in the Grand Concourse of the Las Vegas Convention Center.