Birth of the modern era
Fast forward to 1949. Thirteen years had passed since the previous Expo. After weathering economic difficulties and wartime privations, bakers were ready for change. They got it at the first baking show to be jointly sponsored on a regular basis by BEMA and the American Bakers Association (A.B.A.).
Baking Expo 1949 marked the first such assembly in the modern era and was hailed as a wildly successful event. Organizers promptly set the next one for 1955, and the show settled into a six-year cycle of events at Atlantic City and other venues. The pattern held steady for the 1961, 1967 and 1973 expositions.
Changes and challenges
The timetable held to four years apart for the next five shows: 1985, 1989, 1993, 1997 and 2001. That period saw the rise of the information age and the introduction of full bakery computer-integrated manufacturing, touch-screen equipment controls and computerized master batching systems.
From an automation perspective, the 1980s saw overtilt-bowl horizontal mixers, rotary bread dividers and gravity-controlled, stress-free dough handling. The 1990s took a quantum leap with open-architecture computer controls for processing lines, servo-driven enhanced equipment, high-rise robotic fermentation rooms, ultrasonic slicing techniques and low-stress systems for high-absorption, artisan doughs
Bigger, better programs
With the move to Las Vegas came increasing demand for more program content. Over the years, industry associations, including the Tortilla Industry Association (TIA) and the Independent Bakers Association (IBA), scheduled their fall meetings to coincide with the burgeoning exposition, but attendees wanted more. Specifically, they requested educational offerings open to the whole trade. In 2004, they got a series of “hot topic” seminars conducted by AIB International.
In succeeding years, the Retail Bakers of America (RBA) and the Bread Bakers Guild joined AIB International in providing speakers and producing educational sessions.
Let’s get interactive
The 2016 gathering again set new records for exhibition space (700,000 square feet, up 28% from 2013), exhibitors (more than 1,000 with 340 new to the show) and visitors (a 9% increase over the previous IBIE). The Innovation Showcase more than doubled in number of participants. The first All-American Tailgate Party gave attendees additional networking time on opening day. One exhibitor pioneered with a virtual reality tour of an operating bakery. That’s something many bakers will see in full force at the upcoming show, which runs Sept. 7-11 in Las Vegas.
IBIE 2019 is focusing heavily on education. The IBIEducate program and BEMA-U will highlight the many opportunities to be included at upcoming shows.