Ken Newsome is chief executive officer of Markel Food Group in Richmond, Va. He serves on the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) 2022 committee and has worked in the baking industry for more than 25 years. He is a 2022 inductee into the ASB Baking Hall of Fame.
What are you looking forward to most about IBIE 2022?
I’m most looking forward to being together as an industry to share new ideas. Since IBIE 2022 is one of the first international shows to take place in the last two years, the community is eager to reunite, get inspired and to discuss ways to overcome today’s challenges and emerging opportunities.
How is IBIE partnering with the international community to drive international attendance?
IBIE has a strong International Delegation Program that provides benefits like discounts on registration and education for participants. This has been instrumental in drawing large groups from around the world and more importantly ensures they have the support and resources they need to have an incredible Expo. Our work with the US Commercial Services Trade Event Partner Program and participating in virtual events with our partner shows such as iba.ConnectingExperts have also kept us top of mind with global audiences. And finally, we know education is a top priority for this market, and our star-studded speaker roster has enormous reach.
What do you hope people take away from the show?
Solutions for their current challenges, new efficiencies, and ways to make machines and production lines simpler to operate.
What’s your favorite part about IBIE?
Discussing the needs of customers. As an IBIE exhibitor there’s nothing quite like the power of face-to-face conversations. From that ”aha moment” when a baker sees the solution they’ve been searching for, or the in-depth conversations on technical aspects, the exhibit hall is filled with problem solving. It’s also a great venue for exhibitors to get feedback from customers on what is important to them.
What new features should people check out at this year’s event?
I’d recommend the Innovation Showcase to see the latest advancements. While this is one of the returning show features, everything shown within it is new and cutting edge. We will also have two new topic-based pavilions: one focused on cannabis baked goods and the other on sanitation.
How do you anticipate the current industry challenges will impact people’s goals for IBIE?
I think they will be searching for ways to improve flexibility while lessening the need for people in hairnets to move product. With the current labor shortage, it’s essential to automate simple processes so that the staff you do have can focus on higher value activities.
How is the labor crunch impacting the investment in automation?
Naturally, as the availability of people is an issue, it’s more important than ever to automate repetitive activities. That’s why we’ve made a point to highlight the IBIEducate sessions and relevant exhibitors that can equip bakers with the information they need.
What new technology do you find the most exciting? What technology holds the most promise for the baking industry?
Personally, I think it’s all about robotics, vision, and artificial intelligence.
What’s the top reason people come to IBIE?
To see the latest products, equipment, and technology. If you plan to build your business over time, you need to be on top of the production trends. You will see the future at IBIE 2022.