ROBB MACKIE: This Year’s IBIE Will Be an Opportunity for the Industry to Address the Ongoing Supply Chain Woes

In preparation of the 2022 International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) – commonly known as the Baking Expo™ and the Western Hemisphere’s largest baking industry event, we reached out to Robb MacKie, president and CEO of The American Bakers Association (ABA) to gather insight about the trends and the challenges within the industry, meeting visitors’ expectations, and what the program highlights are this year.  

ABA is the Washington D.C.- based voice of the wholesale baking industry with a history of over 120 years and main sponsor and co-organizer of IBIE. ABA advocates on behalf of more than 1,000 baking facilities and baking company suppliers and their members, an industry generating more than USD153bn in economic activity annually and employing roughly 800,000 highly skilled people.

  • What are some of the current industry trends to be observed this year? Please refer to insights from ABA members.

This year’s IBIE, more than any previous show, will be an opportunity for the industry to address and work through solutions for the ongoing supply chain woes. IBIE 2022 is the first time the industry will come together on a global scale since the last Baking Expo TM in 2019 – and we have a lot of ground to cover in a few short days. Specifically – workforce shortages, commodities markets in disarray, and inflation.

  • Please reflect on the challenges the industry (and ABA members) faces in regards to employment, pandemic preparedness and supply chain disruptions.

The industry continues to face challenges in several key aspects of their businesses like workforce recruitment and retention, supply chain disruptions, and more. The dedicated staff at ABA is in constant communication with Members to understand the landscape of these issues. Then, using that knowledge, we find solutions with policymakers and create educational opportunities for Members to learn best practices.

At IBIE, we are planning to address these challenges during programs on the expo floor and also at IBIEducate. IBIE world-class education program offers more than 100 sessions, across the entire spectrum of topics, making it largest baking industry education event in the world.

For example, the NextGenBaker Leadership Forum features a distinguished panel of industry leaders who will discuss how to attract and retain top talent, build high performance teams, and encourage a culture of innovation. 

ABA’s Lee Sanders, SVP of Government Affairs will join a group of industry leaders for a session called Supply Chain Challenges: A Panel Discussion. The discussion will focus on topics including supply chain strategies, policy efforts, and future forecasts. Panelists will include Hayden Wands, Vice President of Global Procurement, Commodities for Grupo Bimbo, and Maggie Brown, Director of Global Supply Chain for Kwik Lok.

  • Considering your extensive leadership experience in this industry, what would you say would be the toll of these many challenges for the baking world? What will bakers have to change to stay in business?

The baking industry is resilient and innovative. With every challenge, like the pandemic and related supply chain issues, the baking sector finds new opportunities to come together as a community and find solutions. As a seasoned baker told me recently, there are always challenges being a baker, we just lean in to continue to serve our communities.

  • You are stepping down from your position after 17 years. What would you say was your legacy and what are you most proud of in your successful career?

A couple of things really stand out for me. First was the way we were able to bring the industry together to represent a full community of baking. We were able to bring together bakers of all sizes, products, ownership structures along with the entire baking supply chain. This allowed ABA to speak with one unified voice which increased the industry’s clout with policy makers as well as develop broad industry solutions. 

Second, was resetting IBIE on path for growth and relevancy to the global baking industry. Working with the dedicated volunteer leaders, outside partners and the outstanding ABA, BEMA and RBA teams we have made IBIE the invaluable resource it is today for bakers and suppliers to conduct business, to educate the industry, and to spur needed innovation.

Most importantly, building an incredible team of high performers who tirelessly serve the baking industry. There is nothing this team can’t accomplish for the industry they love and admire. I have been so blessed to work alongside this amazing team and am in awe in what they accomplish every day.

You can read the rest of this article in the July-August issue of European Baker & Biscuit magazine, which you can access by clicking here

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