After three years of dealing with a pandemic, a topsy-turvy market for baked goods and a supply chain and labor crisis, the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) 2022 did not disappoint. Bakers showed up in Las Vegas in full force this September to find solutions, educate themselves and network with their peers. 

Nearly 20,000 industry professionals registered for the triennial event, with a notable 25% increase in baker attendance. After two years of uncertainty about the future of in-person events and the hope that bakers were hungry to attend in-person meetings, Dennis Gunnell, chair of the IBIE 2022 committee and president of Formost Fuji, noted that these baker attendee numbers speak for themselves. 

“Having the baker numbers exceed 2019 results just says it all,” he said. “If the bakers are here, the suppliers will be here, and the bakers showed up to the fullest extent. They arrived, and they were excited to do business and do it in person. I didn’t hear one person say ‘I wish we could have done this virtually.’ ”

Despite optimistic energy from the baking industry leading up to IBIE, the committee originally anticipated a drop in international attendance due to both current travel restrictions in certain parts of the world as well as the lack of in-person events abroad where IBIE typically markets the show to the global baking community. However, the final tally of international attendees showed a robust presence: 27% of baker attendees were from outside of the United States, surpassing the previous expo’s results and representing a 34% growth in that category. Canada and Mexico led the 106 different countries represented with a 52% and 40% increase in baker registrations from these countries, respectively. Bakers also attended from Italy, Brazil, the Netherlands, Colombia, Germany, France, El Salvador, Australia and more.  

Baker attendees were gifted with a wealth of educational sessions, demonstrations, competitions and plenty of innovation to see on the show floors in the North and West Halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center. 

“IBIE 2022 has exceeded all expectations,” Gunnell said. “The Baking Expo has a long history of championing innovation aimed at the changing needs of our bakers — from the advancements on the show floor and IBIEducate presentations to the high-quality buyers walking the aisles. During a time when trade events are getting a fraction of their pre-pandemic participation, our industry showed up even stronger.”

IBIE 2022 revealed a baking industry ready to move past the trials of the past three years and build on the growth and lessons it’s learned. For the show itself — American Bakers Association (ABA), BEMA, Retail Bakers of America, the IBIE planning committee and staff — Gunnell could not have been prouder.

“If we had this challenge 20 years ago, I don’t believe we would have been as equipped to deal with it,” he said of planning the show in the midst of a pandemic. “The relationship between ABA and BEMA is stronger than ever. And because of that we weathered this as smoothly and efficiently as possible.”

Looking ahead, IBIE 2022 offers many a launchpad of inspiration for new products and the adoption of new technologies for better efficiencies and operations. 

“As an industry, we’re in a good spot,” Gunnell said. “The trajectory is up.” 

IBIE 2025 will take place Sept. 13-17, 2025, in Las Vegas.  

This article is part of Baking & Snack's ongoing post-show coverage of IBIE 2022. Be on the lookout for the full story in the November issue of Baking & Snack.