ABA’s MacKie grateful and proud on the eve of IBIE 2022


LA VEGAS Asked what will be special about IBIE 2022, Robb MacKie offered a simple answer.

“It happens – let’s start there,” Mr. MacKie, president and CEO of the American Bakers Association (ABA), said in an interview Sept. 17 before the start of the ABA-held triennial event and BEMA. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic came months after IBIE 2019 and upended plans for countless conferences, conventions and business shows in the two-plus years that followed.

“Even a year ago, there were big doubts about whether events would happen,” Mr MacKie said. “We were in the throes of the pandemic. I think beyond that, what makes this really special is that the industry is eager to reconnect.

Over the summer Mr MacKie traveled overseas to promote the IBIE, and he said the enthusiasm for the show was “palpable”.

“It’s an industry that shares knowledge, experience and, frankly, they love each other,” he said. “This is at a time when we are still feeling the effects of the pandemic.”

The void of major bakery industry meetings since 2019 (iba 2021 was cancelled) gives this year’s IBIE added importance, Mr MacKie said.

“It will be the first international pastry fair and, to be honest, one of the first international food fairs since IBIE 2019,” he said. “With the last three years without any of these shows and everything we’ve been through, if you miss the IBIE until 2025, it feels like two lifetimes.”

Coming amid a jumble of economic, supply chain and other challenges, Mr MacKie said IBIE 2022 will highlight these issues. In addition to automation solutions, he said some equipment exhibitors at their booths will take advantage of IBIE to recruit employees.

While registration numbers won’t be finalized until after the show, MacKie said the numbers on the eve of IBIE indicate several interesting and mostly positive trends.

Although overall attendance may drop slightly from 2019, in line with the recovery in travel trends as COVID-19 recedes, bakery attendance is expected to increase by 15-20%.

Reflecting the underlying changes in the industry over the past three years, the profile of bakers attending the show will be different this year.

“Something new and unique to this show is the companies bringing new hires, many of whom have no baking experience, to IBIE. They use IBIE as part of their integration, to help them understand the industry,” MacKie said. is a wonderful learning opportunity.

He said vendor consolidation was weighing on the number of vendors at IBIE 2022, but would be down “not dramatically from 2019”.

Attendance will be weaker in China and other parts of Asia that had been big sources of enrollment in the past, but MacKie said a strategic focus on recruitment in Europe and Latin America has paid off and the response from bakers in the Middle East and Canada has been surprisingly strong.

Overall visitation to international bakers is expected to increase by approximately 30%.

Commenting on a recent announcement that the ABA will partner with BEMA on Nexus, MacKie praised the concept. The event is designed to take place between IBIE years and will be owned by the ABA and BEMA, the two owner associations of IBIE.

“BEMA did the lion’s share of the work on this: the creation, the concept,” he said. “And I think that’s a really strong concept. The exit from the pandemic, creating an opportunity for bakers and suppliers to meet, had been significantly reduced.

First announced by BEMA in June at the group’s annual meeting, MacKie said the ABA had been brought in to discuss Nexus a month earlier.

“Tim Cook (former Chairman of BEMA and President and CEO of Linxis Group) deserves a lot of the credit with the staff at BEMA,” Mr MacKie said. “He, Kerwin Brown, and Emily Bowers provided conceptual insight to ABA staff in May in Washington.

“There was no specific proposal; they wanted the ABA to be at the table in all the ways our members were comfortable,” Mr. MacKie said. “We have shared the discussion with ABA management.”

At BEMA’s annual meeting, Cordia Harrington, ABA President and CEO of Crown Bakeries Cos., met with BEMA executives to discuss Nexus in more depth. In August, BEMA management met with ABA management, who agreed to join the Nexus event as a full partner.

MacKie cited an oft-heard plea from the baking industry for fewer but more valuable industry events. He said Nexus is expected to be the forum for a joint meeting in the fall between the ABA and the baking industry’s allied trades boards.

It is expected that a joint steering committee will be established to oversee the event with representation from both ABA and BEMA.

“We still have a lot of work to do to finalize the details,” MacKie said. “But it’s an exciting opportunity.”


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