LAS VEGAS — IBIE 2022 united a scattered industry as it opened on Sunday, Sept. 18. As IBIE 2022 Committee Chair Dennis Gunnell, president of Formost Fuji, cut the ceremonial loaf of bread, relief and gratitude were the emotions of the day as the industry returned to Las Vegas after three long years of pandemic isolation and unprecedented challenges.
“I cannot begin to express how grateful I feel to be standing here today,” Mr. Gunnell said. “When we concluded our 2019 event, none of us could have imagined what would lie ahead. And for three years since, our industry has faced some of the biggest challenges of our lifetime: a global pandemic, major fluctuations in demand, global supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, inflation. And for a period of time we weren’t sure we’d be able to have a live event.”
The pent-up energy after three years of restricted travel and canceled or postponed events has fueled excitement for this year’s show. As of Sunday, baker attendance was up by double digits and had surpassed 2019 numbers. This figure validated the theme Mr. Gunnell spoke on: resiliency.
“But here we are, together,” Mr. Gunnell said. “Resilient and stronger than ever. The baking industry is like no other. We are a tight-knit community. Many of us are like family. We adapt, we endure, and, most of all, we innovate.”
The opening ceremony was held in front of the new West Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, which was under construction during the previous Expo. In addition to featuring a new hall, Mr. Gunnell pointed out many other new features that attendees can enjoy. The growing cannabis market for bakery is center stage at the Cannabis Central Pavilion (Booth No. 7547), and the Sanitation Pavilion in the West Hall centralizes exhibitors who offer solutions for food safety.
Mr. Gunnell celebrated that IBIE is a place to discover the latest in technology, whether its equipment, ingredients, packaging or safety technology, and this year’s event would be attendees’ best opportunity to see all that the industry has been working on since 2019.
“As you walk the show floor this year, you’ll see advancements and opportunities down every aisle, from automation and robotics to new ingredient solutions,” he said. “The industry is evolving rapidly, and IBIE 2022 is the place where you can get the full picture of what’s happening now and in the future.”
The Innovation Showcase, powered by Sosland Publishing Co., points attendees to the latest technology they will find on the show floor. The Innovation Showcase this year is located in the Convention Center North and West Hall Connector.
Vice Chair Jorge Zarate, global senior vice president of operations and engineering, Grupo Bimbo, welcomed people to the Expo and noted the value of being together.
“We know now that Zoom cannot replace — and does not even compare — to what IBIE has to offer: the face-to-face interactions, the serendipitous conversations that happen on the show floor, experiencing the equipment and technology firsthand — seeing it up close, touching, testing and speaking directly with our contacts,” Mr. Zarate said. “This is our community’s platform, and I am so thrilled to see you all here, today.”
Mr. Zarate will take over as committee chair for IBIE 2025.