Cordia Harrington is chair of the American Bakers Association (ABA) and chief executive officer of Crown Bakeries in Brentwood, Tenn. She has been in the baking industry for 27 years. The 2022 International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE), held Sept. 17-21 in las Vegas, marks her ninth IBIE. 

As an industry CEO, what is your message for why other executives should attend IBIE this year?

IBIE is the largest baking trade show in the Americas offering innovation, new packaging and industry ideas about products, sustainability and robotics. It is an efficient and effective opportunity for bakery leaders to engage with our teams and make plans for our business. IBIE is a can’t-miss industry event. 

What have you learned from previous IBIE events and how have you incorporated your experience into leading your company over the years? 

The education, especially the Nielsen lecture that gave a snapshot of consumer trends, helped us launch our artisan products, and each presentation gives ideas for innovation. I love connecting with experts in the industry who specialize in their specific aspects of baking. From production and equipment to ingredients and packaging, I always walk away from IBIE with a renewed perspective about how Crown Bakeries can improve service to customers.

Crown Bakeries has been growing rapidly over the past few years. How will IBIE prepare the company to achieve its short- and long-term goals?

IBIE is known for projecting future industry technology, especially in the area of reducing head count on the plant floor. I hope to discover new innovations we can utilize as Crown Bakeries continues to grow. 

How is ABA contributing to IBIEducate, and what can bakery attendees expect to take home from this experience? 

ABA is bringing industry experts to IBIEducate to share insights across various subject areas, from manufacturing and sustainability to food safety and government policy. Beyond the sessions at IBIEducate, ABA will host the NextGenBaker Leadership Forum for rising leaders in the industry.

What do you see as the leading consumer trends for baking, and how will IBIE help bakers leverage these emerging opportunities?

IBIE reflects where the industry is currently and where it is headed. This year, the new Cannabis and Sanitation Pavilions are just two examples of how IBIE is spotlighting booming and critical market segments. 

How is your company working to attract more workers? How will IBIE provide them with more tools to help with recruitment?

Like so many companies, recruiting new team members has been a challenge. Luckily, there are several IBIEducate sessions that address just that, including a session called “Workforce - Hiring, Development and Retention” on Saturday, Sept. 17. 

IBIE is also an excellent training tool for the new hires entering our industry. I cannot think of a better introduction to baking — from the technology on the show floor to the IBIEducate sessions. 

With rising costs impacting the industry, how can IBIE provide bakeries with tools to better manage operations? 

IBIE provides a forum to learn new ways to improve plant efficiency and utilize automation. I am looking forward to seeing how exhibitors demonstrate the latest technologies that can help bakeries like ours better manage various operational and supply chain challenges. 

What’s your favorite part about IBIE? What is on your must-see list for this year’s show?

My “must-see” list includes all the equipment displays, the new sanitation pavilion and attending the education sessions. The new Cannabis Pavilion will be interesting. The QuickBITES will be a series of 20-minute TED Talk-style speaker sessions with industry experts. As the name suggests, it will be quick and digestible — I like this style of learning. Best of all is seeing old friends on the show floor.

As ABA chair, what is your message for the baking industry as we get closer to IBIE, and what are your expectations for the show?

The baking industry is a big family. Being together again following the pandemic will be terrific. While I know we will learn a lot, “people enjoy doing business with people,” and we will all enjoy sitting eye-to-eye placing orders, working on customer product ideation over dinner and having drinks at the game tables together. I look forward to seeing everyone!