Robb MacKie is president and chief executive officer of the American Bakers Association (ABA). He has worked in the baking industry for 27 years, and this year is his 9th International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE). IBIE is owned by ABA and BEMA and supported by the Retail Bakers of America (RBA).

After a lengthy reliance on virtual meetings, how important is the in-person meeting to the industry?

As we saw at the ABA Convention in March and with moving to in-person events after a very, very long time: there is simply no replacement for face-to-face meetings. So many relationships were renewed or started and so much business was conducted at the ABA Convention, I can only imagine the experience at IBIE will be extraordinary. The importance of physically coming together – in a safe way – cannot be understated.

How will IBIE 2022 build off the success of IBIE 2019?

The IBIE committee has been tremendously strategic in determining which areas we should grow by looking at data to support that strategy. Our attendees have always been incredibly busy, but now, given all the new challenges thrown their way, we are even more mindful of bringing programming that addresses their specific needs today as well as in the next five to 10 years.

How have the past two years impacted the planning of the show and what can attendees and exhibitors expect?

Normally, the IBIE planning committee meets several times in person throughout the three years between shows. However, we went more than two years without seeing each other all in one place face-to-face. That said, the planning has been even more involved and more rigorous virtually.

IBIE is the largest baking trade show in the Americas for a reason. It showcases the entire vertical supply chain and offers something of value for every segment within the grain-based food industry. Here, you’ll find everything you need to run a successful operation under one roof, making it easy and efficient to shop thousands of products and solutions. For example, if your business is looking to solve for a labor challenge you can quickly weigh your options, vendors and price points for automation solutions. This time at the Expo also allows you to reconnect with new or current vendors to forge deep relationships, forecast lead times or supply challenges, ask product experts technical questions or see live demos.

Between show features addressing hot topics, the Innovation Showcase and the hundreds of new products launched at IBIE, you’ll learn about emerging trends and advancements, so you get ahead of what’s next. If any of those pain points sound familiar, IBIE is exactly where you need to be. In just a few days you’ll be able to generate substantial and lasting impacts for your business.

We’re bringing back some of our most popular show features, including the Artisan Marketplace, BEST in Baking, RBA Bakers Center and the Innovation Showcase. Other returning features include the Creative Cake Decorating Competition, the International Trade Center, the Great American Pie Festival, the Pizza Information Center and a newly rebranded QuickBITES (Baking Industry Trends & Educational Stories) to reflect the 20-minute TED-style talks designed to inspire and shed light on industry hot topics.

What’s your favorite part about IBIE? How has this part of the show been enhanced for 2022?

One of the most important offerings that IBIE provides is the world-class IBIEducate program, the largest baking education event worldwide. IBIEducate will address popular topics and the hottest trends across the entire professional baking spectrum in interactive and engaging sessions. It will offer expert insights on pressing challenges, with topics like talent management, food safety, sustainability, clean label, automation and more. International attendees in particular find this offering extremely valuable. This comprehensive program provides value to all segments of the grain-based foods industry, whether you specialize in wholesale production, snack food manufacturing, artisan bread, cake decorating or even pet food production.

The offerings also serve a broad range of job functions with relevant content for management, HR, marketing, research and development, engineering, retail baking, cake decorating and more. We encourage attendees to bring the entire team for training —upskill, reskill and retain your talent by investing in their growth.

What new features should people check out at this year’s event?

We’re debuting two new pavilions at IBIE, one focused on the business of cannabis baked goods and the other on sanitation solutions, which is an increasingly important topic. Aside from gathering exhibitors based on these areas of expertise, the Cannabis Central Pavilion will also offer education sessions about the business of cannabis infused baked goods and confections.

Also new in 2022 is the Tiptree World Bread Awards USA, which will be celebrating outstanding loaves created by our nation’s bakers. Applications are open now and cover a diverse set of 15 product categories. These awards will be presented at IBIE and select winners will be featured in show floor demonstrations.

What’s the top reason people come to IBIE?

Beyond the value we all get from attending IBIE, I’m most proud of the value we’re providing the industry. IBIE is a non-profit event supported by ABA, BEMA and the Retail Bakers of America, with all proceeds invested back into the industry. Over the past decade IBIE has reinvested more than $18 million in the baking industry and helps fund a number of meaningful initiatives for industry growth and success, including scholarships, advocacy, consumer education, sustainability, food safety and more.