IBA is the world’s biggest bakery show. Comprising 10 halls, there is no other show on earth where you see stands offering hospitality to customers - and those customers number upwards of 100 at a time.

The fantastic variety of breads and rolls form beautiful spectacles and the cakes, though delicious and tempting, somehow seem to take second place. But the purpose of any show is business and, if you are an equipment supplier, then your first job is to entice customers onto your stand.

Machinery plays a major part at the show. Tromp Baking System’s MD John Stenning said: "I believe we are showing the fastest pie manufacturing system in existence. Our machinery is aimed at medium to large companies and we are strong in depositors, pizza and pastry-making equipment, as well as water splitters, seeding and flouring machines plus Van der Pol ovens."

Tromp is a Dutch company with agents worldwide. UK clients include Allied, Ginsters, Northern Foods and Warburtons. Stenning explains that his background is in food manufacturing and Tromp also provides silos, "so we can cover everything from storage to baking and cooling".

So what did he think of IBA on the second day? "It’s an impressive show. There is a lot of stainless steel on machinery stands like ours and people walk past and miss things. You have to drag them onto the stand and, with one or two questions, ascertain quickly if they are a potential customer," he said. But he also has 23 different companies booked to visit his stand during the show.

Fluorocarbon’s John Salmon said his company makes bakeware systems - pans, trays and bread tins suitable for everything from burger buns to baguettes. McDonald’s and Tesco are both customers. Salmon explained why: "Our tins come in aluminium steel and stainless steel but we can apply a special SBS coating to them, which enables buns and loaves to be released without using spray silicone glaze plus a release oil."

Salmon pioneered the SBS coating in the UK. "It is a fluoropolymer base and I started tooling up for McDonald’s some years back. They needed a perfect product, so release oils were taboo. The silicone glaze they were using would last for around 250 tin releases, then the tins had to be stripped and re-glazed.

"Now our coating will do 3,000 releases and last 10 or more times longer. SBS is more expensive as a coating, but works out much more economically in the end. Also you can have a whole set of tins and send them all back for recoating at the same time, while using another complete set. Before, you had an ongoing daily problem with tins. This system cuts down on slips, oven fires and mist from the oil. We make the tins and coat them."

Apart from McDonald’s had anyone else shown an interest? "We had a new contract from Tesco and revamped all 454 Farmhouse and split tins for Mike Coslett at its in-store bakeries. We called it Big Bang day! All the tins had to be changed at once, without disrupting bread supply. At IBA we hope to increase our worldwide customers. Last time Kuwait Flour Mills & Bakeries was a customer; it runs its own chain of bakeries. In the UK, Allied, Fletchers and Warburtons are all customers."

Meeting and greeting

One of the joys of being at an overseas bakery show is bumping into people you do not see so often back home. Sean Maguire, MD of Neville’s Bakery, a big Irish plant bakery commented: "It’s a very good show; there is a lot of business being done here. I’ve just bought a set of tins from Fluorocarbon for £2,000 sterling.

"Baker Perkins (formerly APV) supplies most of our bakery equipment. I am looking at its dividers, which are very robust and accurate and suit our needs. I have had one 18-year-old divider, which has been revamped twice, and it is very good equipment. Now I am looking at its latest models."

Filip Buelens, MD of Belgian firm Chocolate World, provides moulds and materials for producing artisan chocolates and boasts the UK’s John Slattery among his customers. He also offers equipment that can allow bakers and chocolatiers to produce high-quality chocolates in a semi-automatic way. The new modular concept can be operated in a small footprint, he said.

Diosna mixers (UK agent Benier) had the multilingual Friedrich Pfeil on its stand, explaining how a new design continuous mixer, aimed at large plant bakeries, mixes up to 10 tonnes of dough per hour. "We have patented this totally closed mixing system, which has low energy consumption and leaves very little remnant, so recipes can be changed over quickly," he said. "It can work together with a high-pressure rapid water jet, so users can make a mother dough if required, which provides a better tasting loaf with higher water absorption."

He said a test unit will be available in the UK in early 2007. n


=== Machinery trends ===

Bakers prefer machinery that offers:

? simple operation and handling of even complex machinery

? user-friendly computer controls, including for smaller units

? energy-saving baking ovens

? automatic loading devices

? hygienic design and the increasing use of stainless steel

Source: IBA statistics


=== Helmut Martell, ===

head of the German Association of Plant Bakers, describes the current climate in Germany

"Our membership criteria are a little different to the UK. There are around six large industrial bakers, but a total of 50 groups with around 200 sites and these include large wholesale bakers and some who own chains of shops.

The market for industrial bread is growing, due to more customers buying from supermarkets. There has been some consolidation in the industry and there are always rumours that there will be more.

"A typical plant bakery makes three types of bread: premium, medium and discount. The most popular breads are a rye mix and a wheat mix but there is also multigrain.

"Rye wholemeal still represents about 15% of sales but there is a general trend towards Italian loaves and French baguettes - more so among the young.

"We have a new kind of distribution in Germany - the self-service discount bakery shops, which sell rolls and leading breads at up to half price of other retailers. They are normally bake-off outlets and are owned by up to 30 different groups. The shops, around 600 in all, tend to be situated in pedestrian zones.

"In Greece and Italy there is now a law that you have to state if bread is bake-off, but it does not exist in Germany and these shops are gaining market share."


=== Peter Becker ===

heads up the 17,000-strong German Craft Bakers Association and describes his hopes and concerns for the future

"Bakery is a very good career for young people to enter. Young people need idols to imitate - in our case, good bakers with good reputations. Our young bakers have just taken part in an international competition, judged by their peers.

"All the young bakers were asked to make breads with a Harvest Festival theme. Competition itself is a good thing; it brings out the best. And our young bakers will have learned from the other winning teams.

"The key issues facing German craft bakers at the moment are supermarkets, which are growing in size. They all have a bake-off section, which sells goods at a low price. Also, discount bakeries, seem to be appearing everywhere.

"But we are a strong organisation and we lobby well. We need to persuade shoppers there is a better alternative to mere convenience - namely high and consistent quality. Nowadays, craft bakers must be perfect in both products and service. They must achieve better taste through slow fermentation and using a good oven.

"The way to win is not faster dough at lower prices. It is to use a mother dough, a slow ferment and a good deck oven. Craft bread must have a special taste and texture and we must declare that to our customers.

"There is a slight change in products, with younger people moving towards Mediterranean breads, alternating with German breads, and consuming more soft rolls. Many schools have now started to run breakfast clubs and, to promote a healthy breakfast, you must eat more bread.

"For bakers, the big headlines about wellness and health should be our opportunity. Bread in Germany is part of the basic quality of life. If you choose your special bakery and your special products, then it contributes to a high quality of living. That is the message our craft bakers must get across to their customers."