Our sister magazine, Baking & Snack, recently interviewed Jorge Zárate, senior vice-president of operations for Bimbo Mexico and IBIE 2016 committee member, about strategies the committee is pursuing to continue expanding opportunities for international exhibitors and visitors. From expanding global outreach by sending committee members to an increasing number of international trade shows to creating technology tools to help break language barriers, Mr. Zarate and show organizers are working to make IBIE 2016 and future shows truly global.
Baking & Snack: From an international perspective, how will this year’s IBIE event be different from previous shows?
Jorge Zárate: Year after year, our post-show surveys indicate that the international market is becoming more and more important for our show, and we continue to build on the growth we’ve seen the last several show cycles. Compared with other major shows in the U.S., we have a very high percentage of international attendees. They make up about 30% of our attendance and hail from more than 100 countries. This year, we’re really starting to hear feedback that confirms our international positioning. We’ve also really ramped up our marketing and have cast our net wider, targeting international prospects more aggressively than ever before. This year, we have more than 160 international exhibitors, and that number continues to grow.
How is IBIE partnering with the US Department of Commerce and the International Buyer Program (IBP) to promote the show and draw new exhibitors and attendees?
Mr. Zárate: You have to apply to get accepted into the IBP, so it’s an honor that we’ve been able to work with them on our third consecutive show. The Department of Commerce has been a great resource for recruiting international delegations. They have posts in more than 75 countries and serve as our “boots on the ground.” We work very closely with them to identify our target markets and audience profile while we support them with the information and marketing materials they need to attract buyers to our show. They also provide a great resource for matching up international attendees with suppliers at the show.
How have the IBIE committee and the show’s sponsors reached out to the international community to recruit more exhibitors and attendees?
Mr. Zárate: We have a very aggressive multi-channel campaign that combines media, direct marketing and personal outreach. We leverage exhibitors and committee members who attend international events to promote the show on our behalf. For example, our Chairman Michael Cornelis was at the Food & Hotel Asia show in Singapore promoting IBIE, and Committee Member Fred Springer was at Foodex in Birmingham, U.K., last week. IBIE also exhibits at several trade shows including, iba, Europain, Gulf Foods Manufacturing, Bakery China, FIPAN and MOBAC.
What lessons have they learned from attending other international shows?
Mr. Zárate: While at the shows, IBIE Committee representatives meet with dozens of international delegations to discuss opportunities for partnerships to further build the international program. These delegates represent countries such as South Africa, Brazil, China, Italy, France and Germany.
How should North American exhibitors prepare for increased international attendance?
Mr. Zárate: IBIE and the IBP will have translators available at the show, but we also recommend exhibitors bring bilingual sales personnel and translated materials if they plan to target international attendees. We also encourage exhibitors to fill out the form to be included in the Export Interest Directory that’s handed out to all of our international attendees in the International Trade Lounge. The directory lists all of the suppliers who export and the countries where they do business. It’s a great tool for matchmaking.
What networking opportunities will be available for US and international attendees?
Mr. Zárate: IBIE is great for facilitating networking — on the show floor, in the International Trade Center, educational sessions or at the All-American Tailgate networking reception.
As someone who has attended many baking shows across the globe, what personal tips do you have for new international exhibitors?
Mr. Zárate: I suggest doing as much planning in advance of the show. Make a thorough list of points of interest: innovation/product launches, problem-solving solutions, ingredients, training, learning opportunities, updating equipment or systems or even networking with specific exhibitors or industry colleagues.
Once you have your list, I recommend making a road map to plan each day. Use the IBIE Connect mobile app and set up your appointments and use the app to help navigate the show. We are sure by following these steps you will get the most benefits from attending the show.
After each day, take some time to write down your most relevant findings from your day, and make any adjustment to your road map for the next day. Make sure you leave extra time to just to stroll around — you´ll never know what coincidental introductions may bring to your business.
In the past, Europe has been underrepresented at IBIE primarily because there are so many bakery shows in that region. How is IBIE bolstering its European attendance and making the show more attractive to that market?
Mr. Zárate: This year, we exhibited at iba and Europain to help penetrate the European market further. We also have a partnership with SIGEP/AB Tech Expo in Italy and several other media and association partners who are helping us to spread the word.
What is the best strategy for approaching IBIE from a show floor perspective?
Mr. Zárate: The show spans more than 700,000 square feet, so it’s a lot of ground to cover. IBIE has several show planning tools available this year that will help attendees make the most of their time. IBIE Connect will launch this summer and serves as a matchmaking tool for exhibitors and attendees. The platform allows you to set up appointments in advance and also lets you sort by language to find suppliers who have bilingual staff. The app is also a great tool for navigating the show onsite.
What educational sessions might be of the greatest interest to international attendees?
Mr. Zárate: This year, we’ve added an international track to the education program. Sessions include Food Labeling for U.S. Import, Trends and Opportunities in the Mexican Baking Market for U.S. Exporters and How to Introduce Your Products to the U.S. Market. The program features more than 90 sessions focusing on a variety of topics that are relevant to both international and domestic attendees.
What new show accommodations, such an upgraded international lounge, is IBIE offering?
Mr. Zárate: Each show cycle, the IBIE Committee strives to improve the event and create a true destination for our attendees. This year we’ve added several new engaging features and events to create excitement and facilitate networking on the show floor. These include the IBIE Idea LAB, Global Gold Chain Alliance Pavilion and the All-American Tailgate networking reception.
Where are some of the largest international contingents coming from in 2016? How has international attendance shifted from previous IBIE cycles?
Mr. Zárate: It’s still too early to tell. I expect we’ll see large groups from Mexico, Brazil and China. Latin America and Asia, in general, have been large growth markets where we’ve been focusing a lot of our attention. While Europe is currently served by iba and Europain, we’ve made concerted efforts to attract more European attendees to the show.