The most visible change seen at the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) in 2022 was the introduction of the West Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, which was being built during the 2019 Baking Expo.

Between both the North and West Halls, 844 exhibitors, 200 of which were new to IBIE, showed off their new equipment, ingredients and services to buyers. They represented 6.25 million lbs of technology, equipment and supplies on display. Exhibitors on average also increased their booth size by 60 square feet or more to make space for all the innovation.

“People came with their checkbooks out,” said Dennis Gunnell, IBIE 2022 committee chair and president of Formost Fuji, in reference to a $6 million dollar purchase made on the show floor among other sizable transactions. “I haven’t talked to any exhibitors who didn’t have more leads than they did in 2019 — not a single person.”

This isn’t surprising due to the way the baking industry has been eager — and sometimes forced — to adopt new technologies since 2019. The pandemic prevented many OEMs from visiting plants for maintenance and repair. Labor is in shorter supply than ever, motivating baking companies to consider automation they’ve been hesitant to adopt in the past. 

The needs of today’s industrial bakeries were reflected in the solutions found in the West and North Halls. Equipment suppliers showed how their equipment was easy to use, simple to clean and took burdens off a tight workforce that is less skilled.

Another way these issues were addressed on the show floor was through system integration. Some of the largest equipment companies supplying the industrial baking industry — Linxis Group, Markel Food Group and Middleby Bakery Group — highlighted how their brands offered automation across multiple production points, creating streamlined automation for the entire bakery line, or large sections of it.

Other equipment suppliers targeted midsized baking companies that might just now be interested in automating their production lines to reduce their reliance on labor. 

Preventive and easy maintenance was also prevalent at the expo with companies launching or promoting remote troubleshooting programs and even applications that walked operators through solving the problem on their own.

On the ingredient side, shelf life was a hot topic, as were clean label, better nutrition, sourcing and supply chain stability, and sustainability. When asked what bakers’ priority was for formulating, most ingredient suppliers agreed: all of the above.

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.