Michael Cornelis is vice president of international sales and development for American Pan, a Bundy Baking Solution, and has worked in the industry since 1985. He’s attended the International Baking Industry Expo (IBIE) since 1989 and served as chairman in 2016.
During your time on the IBIE committee, what areas have you been most passionate about?
The two things that have been near and dear to my heart from both my administration as chairman and now has been increasing international attendance and increasing educational offerings. Why? What’s the point of all that? The point is we study the demographics of the feedback we get in the post-show surveys. We get into the weeds on all that information we receive, and these are the things our constituents want. Our attendees want an educational experience. Our exhibitors want to see international attendees. And with “international” in our name, we’re proud to host more than 109 countries at the show and roughly a quarter of IBIE’s attendants are international.
What are you most excited about for IBIE 2022?
I always like to highlight the hands-on sessions or celebrity demonstrations. Those are the things that excite me the most about this year’s education sessions. I’m really excited about the World Bread Awards USA. The list of judges is really impressive, and I’m so excited to see some of these bread industry celebrities in person. And some of the stories about the past winners are truly inspirational.
What new features should attendees check out?
We’ve rebranded the 20-minute TED-esque talks, formerly known as Fresh Take Talks to QUICK BITES (Baking Industry Trends & Educational Stories). I am a huge fan of these talks because they take place on the show floor, and you pop in to listen to a speaker for a bit and still gain a lot. And then you go back to what you were doing.
How will the educational programming be different for IBIE 2022?
We change our programming and sessions to serve what our attendees and exhibitors want. In this case, we’re hoping our attendees walk away with tangible strategies and ideas and are able to implement them right away when they get home. In essence we’ll focus on recruiting, retaining and training employees as well as structuring businesses for growth and success. We’ll have tracks geared to retail, medium and wholesale bakers, and these will include hands-on demonstrations and the industry’s top instructors and influencers.
I think that’s going to be a game changer in our educational programming. In my first years of being on the committee we only had about six classes, and in 2019 we had more than 100. With IBIE happening on a three-year cycle, that’s an incredible amount of growth over three shows. We’ve knocked it out of the park again and again, and I’m fully convinced we’ll do it this year too.
How do you anticipate supply chain challenges will impact how bakers approach their equipment investments?
Two of our bakery executives on the committee said that while they used to plan projects 12 to 28 months in advance, they are now planning them three years out, and that blew me away. I’ve been in the industry nearly 40 years, and I’ve never heard that before. Supply chain delays and longer lead times are really changing the way businesses plan for growth and changes.
How will that impact IBIE?
I think there will be a mindset where people say I need to close this deal now even though it’s 2 to 3 years away. People can’t afford to let any more time slip. It’s going to be a different environment knowing that lead times for raw materials, metal sourcing and electrical components are all so far out now.
How are you seeing labor impact bakers’ approach to automation and equipment investment?
I think many people have the assumption that the labor issue affects first world nations more, but as someone who deals almost exclusively internationally, I can tell you that isn’t true at all. We’re seeing people highly interested in automation on their production lines and packaging lines in every corner of the world, even places one would assume labor is easier to get or lower cost.
This is the future of our industry. I’m convinced that people working on the production line will go away in our lifetime. We’re already starting to see it now in some facilities. I was in a facility in Asia for six hours studying their automation and never saw a single person the entire time. It’s already happening, and I think we’re going to see it more and more.
How are you drawing in international attendees through the educational programming?
What we’ve found through our post-show surveys is that international attendees come for the educational sessions especially. They want to know what we’re talking about in the North American baking industry and what they might be able to bring back to their countries. They aren’t just coming to IBIE for their own businesses, but also the members of their local and regional bakery associations. I think that’s exciting.
As I’ve attended other international baking shows, I’ve noticed that as IBIE has increased its educational offerings, so have some of the others. In fact, in the past year we have provided sessions at iba’s virtual events, iba CONNECTING EXPERTS.