Recapping the events, products and lessons learned at Canada’s biannual bakery bonanza
By Doug Picklyk
With a spirit of renewal in the air, attendees flocked to this spring’s Bakery Showcase in early May to soak in the product demonstrations and take advantage of the many learning opportunities available.
Hosted by the Baking Association of Canada (BAC) at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ont., this year’s three-day event, held May 1 to 3, enjoyed attendance of over 4,000, matching the numbers attracted to the biannual show in 2014.
In a sit-down chat with BAC president Paul Hetherington following the event, he expressed his pleasure with the show. “You always like to grow, but we didn’t have a decline in attendance which is a positive, but one of the things we found really interesting this year was the traffic pattern. Historically, over the three days of the show Sunday was the busiest, Monday a bit slower and Tuesday generally is the least busy. In 2014 Sunday and Monday were almost even in attendance, with a drop off on the Tuesday. This year, more than 50 per cent of the attendance came on the Monday.”
Why the change? He speculates that it could be because of changing retail business practices, with shops being open Saturday and Sunday, or perhaps people are deciding to keep Sunday as their day off. “That’s something we’re going to be looking at to ascertain if that’s going to become a long-term trend.”
With respect to show size and the number of exhibitors, the event was down this year. Hetherington explained how every eight years Bakery Showcase is sandwiched between two international events: the IBA in Munich, Germany, (September 2015) and the IBIE event in Las Vegas (October 2016). “When we look back at our records, our event was the same size as it was back in 2008 when we had last had this confluence of events,” he says. “We recognized that was going to be a challenge, but we maintained our ground, even though we continue to have more consolidation in the industry. So we are pleased with that.”
To keep the event attractive and informative, the association stepped up its educational program this year. “We have historically provided some form of educational programming, but starting at the Bakery Congress in Montreal last year we began putting more investment into a paid speaker program, with a separate registration and investing in bringing in quality speakers to address issues of the day. My personal belief is we delivered on that, and the feedback we’ve received from those who participated was positive.”
Along with the learning sessions scheduled each day prior to the show opening, on the show floor the BAC hosted the Knowledge Center in partnership with Ardent Mills, and with the Healthy Grains Institute involved. “The effort behind that was simply to help industry understand what the opportunities are with different grains. That’s the type of information transfer we’re trying to achieve,” says Hetherington, who adds that going forward they will be looking at how to generate more dynamic activities on the floor.
Also attracting attention at this year’s event was a cake decorating demonstration featuring professors and students from Algonquin College’s baking and pastry program.
Aside from the educational elements, the BAC is broadening its horizons to deliver innovative production and product ideas to the event through an international outreach. “We had two foreign delegations come through this year — one from China and one from the Middle East,” Hetherington says. “We also had about 14 delegates come from various trade consulates. We’re trying to spur on interest with those consulates to work with us to bring in products and services from other countries that would give attendees something new and exciting.”
For the BAC, entertaining new ideas and programming for the show is part of its continuous learning and its goal of transferring information, both local and international, to the Canadian industry.
On the show floor
Attendees at Bakery Showcase witnessed a wide variety of machinery from ovens, mixers and dough dividers to labeling and packaging solutions. And the ingredient companies also had a lot to show and share. The following is a sample of what we saw:
- Holding firm: Lallemand Yeast Group’s Michel Dion showed us a demonstration of the company’s FlexFirm proof-tolerant yeast that allows for extended proof times. Doughs can be held in ambient temperatures for eight hours after proofing and hold their form.
- Reusing day olds: Dawn Food Products showed practical solutions, like using a waffle maker to repurpose day-old donuts or turning day-old cake donuts into cake-pops.
- Gluten-free flour substitute: Dealers Ingredients highlighted its Profi Bake high protein, high fiber composite powder that performs as a functional replacement for wheat flour in baking applications.
- Clean sprouts: Everspring Farms, supplier of sprouted grains, has upped its sanitation game with enhanced microbial reduction, adding to its existing BRC certified food safety plan.
- Organic able: Ardent Mills promoted its organic milling capabilities and announced the launch of SimplyMilled Organic Flour, including strong bakers, all purpose and whole wheat, and as the sponsor of the Knowledge Centre the company was giving flour milling demonstrations and lessons on different grain types.
- Chocolate rocks: Callebaut introduced ChocRocks, small glossy, irregular shaped chocolate bits to add to the presentation and texture of sweet treats.
- Colour coding: Chicago Metallic showed its non-stick DuraShield pans with coloured coatings so bakeries can easily segregate their production, and highlighted its StayFlat sheet pans with sidewalls that prevent bowing over time.
- Time-saving ferments: AB Mauri showed its Aromaferm cereal ferments that allow bakers to produce breads with taste and texture of long fermenting sourdoughs and achieve the longer shelf life consusmers desire.
- All in the family: ADM Milling, the wheat processing division of Archer Daniels Midland, shared its space with company affiliates including Golden Peanut, which showed its peanut flour — including organic versions suitable for baked goods.
- Playing flavours: McCormick Canada took a twist on its flavour forecast for 2016 by incorporating pulse proteins and tropical Asian flavours into treats including a Malaysian Rendang curry coconut macaroon, Rendang curry kettle chips, and a lentil and chickpea muffin.
- Pizza for everyone: LC Bakery Equipment attracted crowds to its central location on the show floor by demonstrating its customizable revolving and deck ovens, baking a series of breads and pizza offerings for attendees.
- That’s one huge panatone: Lesaffre Yeast announced its new certified organic Red Star Organic Block Yeast, the first organic fresh yeast produced in North America. Also at its booth was a massive panatone baked from a 22-pound dough.
- Detector protector: targeting bakery production, Fortress Technology of Toronto demonstrated its Interceptor metal detector — its latest highly modular design.
Where are we going?
Among the learning sessions held before the show was a panel of bakers who provided their insights into what shops are facing today. Entitled “Where are we and where are we going: the bakers perspectives,” the panelists included: Dufflet Rosenberg, founder of Dufflet Pastries; Simon Blackwell, owner of Blackbird Baking Co.; Gottfried Boehringer, president of The Stonemill Bakehouse; and Darryl Rowe, president of Weston Bakeries.
On the topic of consumer perceptions about baked goods, Rosenberg said people talk about clean label, but consumers don’t know what “natural” means.
Rowe agreed. “Consumers are more informed, but not better informed,” he said. “All of us are on a journey to find what consumers want today and tomorrow.”
For Boehringer it was about delivering a “good for you” story that consumers can understand and relate to.
When asked about discerning fads from trends, Rosenberg said it’s the public that decides what will be a fad or a trend. And while Boehringer noted we will always have cycles, Rosenberg said the media is charging up trends today, and social media makes it more explosive than it ever was. She noted how cupcake shops popped up and then faded away. “Is the French macaron here to stay?” she asked, then answered, “I think it is here to stay.”
When it comes to social media, two of the panelists said they are very involved. “I think social is very important,” said Blackwell, listing Instagram, Twitter and now SnapChat as key channels. His bakery has close to 17,000 Instagram followers.
Dufflet is also active on Twitter and Instagram. “To keep your followers you have to be part of the community,” Rosenberg said. “It’s not just an advertising tool.”
Both Boehringer and Rowe indicated they were not too active on social platforms.
Playing off the social media theme, panelists were asked about how they deal with millennials as customers. “This is why social media is so important,” said Rosenberg, “and online ordering too.”
Boehringer explained the importance of transparency. “Your company’s core values must resonate with their core values,” he said, citing the importance of focusing on the triple bottom line: social, economic and the environment.
For Weston, Rowe said portability and convenience were important, while also maintaining a more natural product. “Being less packaged is viewed as more natural, but is it safe?” he said. “Over time we have to deal with food safety.”
Finally, the panelists were asked about the next trends. For Blackwell the answer was not an item, but a back-to-basic approach. And that sentiment was echoed by Boehringer, who pointed to the move towards long fermentation for breads as opposed to industrialized loaves.
Rosenberg couldn’t identify one trend, but said she’d like to get away from bright colours and having to create perfect gems for people to take photos of for Instagram.
And according to Rowe, transparency and portability are the new trends. Transparency so customers can understand what’s going into products, and portability because people are snacking more.
The trends pointed out by the bakers were all visible on the Bakery Showcase show floor, where the eye-catching decorative items, quick snack ideas and the promotion of clean label and natural ingredients continue to hold strong.
It will be interesting to see how these trends hold up for the next Showcase in 2018. In the meantime, mark your calendar for the next Bakery Congress set to be held at the Vancouver Convention Centre, April 23 and 24, 2017.