Epiphany Masaganda, executive pastry chef of The Sailfish Club in Palm Beach, Florida, traveled across the country to attend the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) to learn about innovative breads because her restaurant is starting a bread program. Rachel Lawson, a baker at De La Terre Cafe and Bakery in Jordan, Ontario, Canada, wanted to sharpen her bread baking skills.

These bakers and more than a dozen more learned creative ideas and sound fundamentals for producing “Old World and Innovative Artisan Breads” in a hands-on session conducted by Julien Otto, chef instructor and master baker for The French Pastry School, during the record-breaking 2019 edition of the IBIE.

The most comprehensive baking industry expo in the Western Hemisphere welcomed industry professionals from around the world on Sept. 7-11 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

IBIE provided a newly implemented day of learning on Saturday, Sept. 7, featuring tailored sessions that gave attendees curated, business-focused tools they need to enhance and grow their businesses. Courses included talent management classes with a concentration on acquiring, developing, and retaining employees and cultivating great leaders.

The day also offered hands-on workshops designed for artisan bakers taught by Otto from The French Pastry School and hands-on cake decorating skills sessions taught by Bronwen Weber.

Among bread formulas demonstrated by Otto included Alsatian rye beer bread, Beaujolais red wine and salami rye bread, onion and potato levain bread and Madras curry and raisin loaf. For his onion and potato levain bread, Otto mixed in instant potato flakes with bread flour, dry instant yeast, salt, liquid levain and water to start the mixture.

Julien Otto shares his insights during a hands-on workshop.

Then he followed by gradually adding olive oil and one minced red onion, prior to letting the dough rise for an hour. “With potato flakes, olive oil and a lot of water, here you have something very moist,” Otto said. “Mix until the dough is just moving from the bowl.”

The IBIE Saturday education program included RPIA’s Business of Baking for Beginners seminar. Nearly 95% of those who start a retail bakery fail within five years, so it is imperative that bakery owners have a well-defined business plan, The RPIA Group executives told a group of about 100 attendees.

“A bad plan will not stand the test of time,” said Randy McArthur, national technical sales for Dawn Foods and a founding member of RPIA. “We hope to get you focused in a finer direction to help you make more money.”

McArthur said a solid business plan requires many traits: the ability to learn and listen, capital, merchandising, passion, work ethic, and knowledge. “You have to be a bit of a master of everything,” he said. “You need a system in place to track trends because times are changing at lightning speed today. How you go to market depends on who you are.” There are more than 40 types of bakeries, like donut shops and bakery cafes, and the key is to open the right type in the right location.

“One of the biggest issues I learned from owning a bakery was to work in your business, not on your business,” McArthur said. “As entrepreneurs, we can expect our staff to know what we know, and they don’t. Unexpressed expectations will not be met. A great plan needs a great team.”

Rick Crawford, RPIA managing partner, added another important consideration for the audience: “Do what your customers want, not what you want.”

Insights for market trends

Keely Siciliano of Dawn Foods discusses the role branding and social media play in driving business growth and brand awareness.

IBIEducate presented the largest education offering to date, with more than 100 sessions designed to deliver a fresh, forward-thinking perspective on business, operations and creativity for every role and every segment within the industry. Seminars focused on the most relevant issues facing the industry today. 

Corbion’s consumer research on new sugar label regulations, presented during the session “Could Purchase Intent Be Influenced by New Sugar Label Regulations?” Marge O’Brien, senior manager, global insights, and CJ McClellan, manager of global marketing, both of Corbion, surveyed 800 primary shoppers online and interviewed 15 primary shoppers in person about their label-reading and purchasing habits. In light of the Food and Drug Administration’s revision of the Nutrition Facts Panel, they researched what consumers knew regarding the changes and how it impacted buying habits for bread and sweet baked goods. Two-thirds of respondents were unaware of the label changes, and those consumers who said the label has some impact on their purchasing decisions were nearly twice as likely to call out the added sugars than those who reported the label would have a low impact on their decisions.

“If your core consumers don’t look at labels, you have to think about how you’re going to handle that as you reduce sugar,” O’Brien said.

With regard to chocolate, today’s consumers seek more premium experiences from chocolate and bakery products, said Marit Allen, market segment development manager of Barry Callebaut, during an IBIE presentation. Simple swaps may inspire shoppers to pay higher prices.

“We believe today’s brands and products need to choose a route,” Allen said. “They either need to trade up and become more premium or trade down and be all about value. But you don’t want to get stuck in between.”

Allen provided tips for elevating ordinary baked foods featuring chocolate. Adding cocoa liquor to a brownie imparts a richer, fudgier and more robust chocolate flavor. Using cocoa powders without alkali results in a deeper color and cleaner label.

“Consumers are increasingly aware of what they put in their mouth,” Allen said. “They want to know everything about the real origin of their food, and they also want to know how the origin is influencing pure flavors. They want believable and trustworthy information about where their food comes from, who grew it, who created it.”

Hands-on demonstrations

Jory Downer demonstrates world-class pastry techniques.

Two new Artisan Marketplaces crafted by Puratos and The Bread Bakers Guild of America (BBGA) respectively, housed a virtual reality tour, samples from the world’s only Sourdough Library, and featured demos from Certified Master Bakers including Lionel Vatinet, Peter Reinhart, Lauren Hass, Leslie Mackie and Jory Downer.

Duff Goldman, who starred on Food Network’s popular show “Ace of Cakes,” made a special appearance at IBIE in partnership with AB Mauri where he signed autographs and crafted a unique cake sculpture, Spilled Yeast. Made of fondant, wood and foam, his sculpted, oversized packet of iconic Fleischmann’s yeast is a unique reflection of the actual 7-gram package that consumers purchase today. Now 151 years old, Fleischmann’s is the oldest bakery yeast brand in North America.

“It’s nice working with AB Mauri. We are celebrating the art of baking,” Goldman said. “Arts and crafts are two different things. You can’t make it art if the craft isn’t awesome. People are making stunning cakes all around the world. More and more people are getting better at it. And that’s exciting. It’s people in Africa. It’s people in South America. It’s people in Europe, and they’re really doing neat stuff.”

The Retail Bakers of America (RBA) Bakers Center, brought to you by Bundy Baking Solutions, hosted baking competitions and live demonstrations from some of the biggest names in the industry, including Buddy Valastro, the Cake Boss, whose demos were standing room only. This new state-of-the art center also hosted the 18th annual Pillsbury Bakers’ Plus Grand Champion Creative Decorating Competition.

On the show floor

Guy Frenkel shapes bread dough made with purple maize and blue barley.

International markets greatly contributed to the event’s growth, as professionals from more than 100 countries made up nearly 30 percent of the attendance. “IBIE continues to provide the platform for the entire baking community to gather and celebrate the vibrancy of this industry, innovative trends and digital automation technologies, advances in baking processes and the thousands of bakers and support services who have a passion and commitment to the success of this industry,” says Joe Turano, IBIE chairman.

Nearly 1,000 exhibitors (237 new to IBIE) and the largest show floor in history allowed this year’s event to break records for growth. More than 20,000 professionals attended education sessions and walked the exhibit hall.

Numerous exhibitors featured innovative product solutions and reinforced their history in the North American marketplace.

BakeMark demonstrated its market position as “the complete package for quality donuts.” Dating back to the 1946, when BakeMark introduced its first donut mix, the company launched into manufacturing to address the growing need of bakers requesting premade mixes. BakeMark has continued to meet the needs of an ever-changing market by introducing a variety of mixes and other products for donuts, cakes, sweet goods, Hispanic products and more.

Malt Products Corporation (MPC), a manufacturer of malted barley extract and other natural sweeteners, showcased its recently enhanced and rebranded OatRite portfolio of liquid and dry oat extract sweeteners. As consumer desires for non-GMO, plant-based, and multi-functional ingredients continue to grow, MPC food technology experts discussed why oat extract has become an increasingly popular option for bars, cookies, bagels and other baked goods. MPC’s OatRite extracts are made from whole grain sprouted oats minimally processed in a state-of-the-art plant, producing a syrup with a mild sweetness and pleasant oat taste and aroma.

Retail bakery owners Paul Bendinskas of ABC Cake Shop in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Julie Pinho of Pinho’s Bakery in Roselle, New Jersey, helped Dawn Foods introduce the three winning Baker’s Request cake flavors (coffee, coconut and honey) developed as part of Dawn’s Inspired by You program, appearing at the Dawn Foods booth during IBIE. Dawn unveiled valuable consumer insights and a wide range of product innovations including Dawn Balance Naturally Brilliant Icings and new Exceptional Lemon Old Fashion Donut Mix.

AAK USA Inc. created several great-tasting concepts to showcase AAK’s fat and oil solutions to help bakers create better-for-you bakery and non-dairy plant-based products that consumers will embrace. “Our newest global brand for plant-based foods, AkoPlanet, offers formulators a real-life solution for plant-based foods and supports AAK’s continued commitment to help fulfill consumers’ desires for better-for-you, clean label and sustainable products that look and taste great,” said Octavio Diaz de Leon, president of AAK USA and North Latin America.