Almost 20,000 visitors walked the aisles of the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) 2004, held recently in Las Vegas. Attendees viewed the equipment, products and services on display by 778 companies. "It was an excellent show. The atmosphere was upbeat, and the changes we did to add value to the retail baker did just that," said Robert Kirkpatrick, IBIE 2004 chairman.
Those changes included a program geared toward retail bakers sponsored by the Retail Bakers of America (RBA). The Tips and Trends Demonstration Theatre showcased bakers demonstrating their tips on improving bakery sales. Topics included blown and pulled sugar techniques, easy rolled fondant ideas and Puerto Rican breads, presented by the Puerto Rico Baking Team.
RBA also encouraged bakers to talk one on one with fellow bakers during its Industry Chats. The chats were moderated by some of the industry's leading bakers, including Lynn Schurman, Cold Spring Bakery; Brian Hinton, Lakeview Bakery; Hans Nadler, Nadler's Bakery & Delicatessen; Lisa Ketcham, Masons Bakery & Deli; and Paul Sapienza, Sapienza Pastry Inc. The chats covered employee training issues, how to manage corporate accounts, incorporating Hispanic products and how to improve profits by looking at indirect costs.
"Attendees spent more time on the show floor than at previous shows," Kirkpatrick said. "We tried to enhance the educational sessions to give people additional reasons to come."
Exhibitors demonstrated the newest innovations in equipment and ingredients. While the low-carb trend may be dying, the side effects of this trend are still resonating, especially with the surge in whole grain products.
Several flour companies promoted new lines of white whole wheat flour. This flour offers the health benefits associated with whole wheat flour, but with the flavor of refined white flour. The benefit for bakers is that they can offer healthful whole wheat bread with the flavor of white bread.
Oven manufacturers also showcased new advances. One new oven bakes rolls automatically, refilling a selfservice bin where customers can select warm just-baked product. Another manufacturers oven transforms convection heat to infrared heat to reduce baking times. For additional information on product innovations showcased at IBIE, turn to page 54 and visit www. bakerynet.com.
"The buzz on the show floor was positive. It was a good show from every standpoint," Kirkpatrick said. "In our attendee surveys, this show was rated at a higher level than the last two IBIE shows."
Make your decorating capabilities clear
As customers expect more from your decorated cakes, do not hesitate to charge for your skill and effort, said Kasia Wilk, decorating consultant, Lucks Food Decorating Co., Tacoma, Wash. During an RBA session at the IBIE show, Wilk offered tips for cake decorators to be creative and profitable in a fast-paced, high-volume bakery environment.
"Consider computer time and photo manipulation time, and be sure to charge for it," she said. With computer image technology expanding into the cake decorating world, decorators are increasingly taking on graphic design responsibilities. Time at the computer should be considered cake decorating time as well, so incorporate the cost into the retail cake price. Encourage customers to bring in their files for photo cakes on a disk.
Keep customers informed about your bakeries capabilities, particularly with wedding cakes. "Although you may have taken hundreds of cake orders, this may be the first and only wedding cake the bride will order," Wilk said.
She recommends developing a brochure of the types of cakes your bakery can do to let customers know if their requests are out of the norm. "Also on wedding cake orders, build a consultation time into the order process."
Precise cake ordering and organized work areas also are key components of a profitable cake decorating department.
Avoid clutter in cake decorating work spaces by regularly disposing of broken supplies and specially mixed icing colors. Frozen cake layers need to be easily accessible to decorators. Cake boards also need to be accessible, but stored so they are kept clean away from potential icing or airbrush color mishaps.
"Cleanliness is next to Godliness," Wilk reminded. "If your decorator didn't show up, could another decorator walk into your shop and take over."
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