By Michelle Brisebois
By Michelle Brisebois
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – Canada’s premier baking industry show recently
celebrated a new location and a whole new vibe to match, wowing
visitors May 16-18 at the International Centre near Toronto’s Pearson
|Jake the Baker cartoonist Brian Fray signed autographs at the Bakers Journal booth.|
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – Canada’s premier baking industry show recently celebrated a new location and a whole new vibe to match, wowing visitors May 16-18 at the International Centre near Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
With hundreds of vendor booths and more than four thousand attendees, Bakery Showcase gave bakers and allied trades a chance to evaluate new trends, equipment and ingredients, and to network with other business partners. It was a pulse check on how the industry is doing and where it’s headed. And based on the tone and excitement of this year’s show, our industry has every reason to feel good about the future.
The world was in a very different place when Bakery Showcase was last held in 2008. The economy was struggling and many businesses were focused on survival. For many bakeries and suppliers to the industry, innovation and investing in new equipment took a backseat to more urgent financial matters. Based on the robust attendance of exhibitors and show visitors, it’s clear that bakery products and the businesses that help produce them are very much on an upswing.
“The response by the industry to Bakery Showcase this year indicates that they’re re-engaged,” says Baking Association of Canada (BAC) president Paul Hetherington. “Attendance to the show was up 20 per cent over 2008 and exhibitor sales were up 15 per cent.”
While solid attendance is certainly one key indicator pointing to a revitalized industry, the tone of the show suggested that suppliers, manufacturers, retailers and bakers are more than ready to position this industry for success.
If there was one theme that seemed prevalent, it was health.
|Cinelli’s impressive lineup of ovens.|
|Novelis displayed its wide range of environmentally friendly aluminum foil pie plates and other containers and packaging for bakeries.|
|The team at N2 Ingredients brought an impressive display.|
|Cinelli’s impressive lineup of equipment.|
“The number one trend we’re seeing right now is the health and wellness trend,” Hetherington says. “We were pleased to see from the show that the industry is looking at these issues and addressing them to help us meet changing consumer needs.”
Exhibitor N2 Ingredients exemplified this trend, announcing the launch of ALTERNA, the gluten-free alternative to wheat and other gluten-containing flours and grains. ALTERNA is designed to replace flour in traditional bakery and other food products. Gluten-free products and ingredients were found at several other booths as well, suggesting this is a trend with significant momentum.
Hemp Oil of Canada exhibited a number of hemp-based products, including flour and oils suitable for dipping with a wonderful nutty flavour. Hemp is rich in 18 key amino acids and is gaining popularity as health trends take hold. NutraSun Foods Ltd. displayed a line of whole-grain scone mixes, natural cookie and muffin mixes, and Snowbird natural white wheat flour.
Sun Opta Ingredients Group promoted fibres from oats, soy and peas, while several vendors offered lower-sodium products to address political and consumer concerns related to added salt. One of these, Nealanders International Inc., showcased its Salt Rite product, which claims to be a 1:1 replacement for salt in recipes while containing only trace amounts of sodium. AB Mauri Low Sodium Baking Powder reduces the amount of sodium while retaining functionality.
In that vein, AB Mauri-Fleischmann’s is one supplier that has transcended its traditional roots as a manufacturer of yeast. While yeast continues to be a key part of its business model, AB Mauri-Fleischmann’s also provides mold inhibitors and AB Mauri Gluten and Emulsifier Enhancer (ABM 310) to allow for gluten and possibly emulsifier reductions. These innovative solutions use enzymes, a natural alternative that allows the baker to remove ingredients from the label, making it “cleaner.”
“By removing the chemicals, you allow the natural flavour to shine,” says AB Mauri-Fleischmann’s technical support manager Michel Dorval.
While ingredients spoke to consumer health, some suppliers exhibiting at the show focused on environmental health. Novelis promotes itself as the world’s largest aluminum can recycler. Its Bakery Showcase stand highlighted the fact that it takes only 60 days for an aluminum can to be recycled back onto the grocery shelf. Novelis displayed packaging solutions using aluminum bases that are 100 per cent recyclable. Meanwhile, another exhibitor, Bottle Box, showcased plastic clam packs made from 100 per cent post-consumer recycled PET beverage bottles. No more guilt about those plastic water bottles!
Innovation on the production side of the equation was evident too. Cinelli/Esperia Corp. displayed a proofer-retarder roll-in rack that allows the baker to control fermentation over a long period of time. If things get backed up at the oven, the unit is designed to automatically reduce the temperature to slow the proofing process. Quick Shine by Custom Baking Products allows bakers to get a beautiful finish without eggs, which reduces the risk of bacterial contamination. Exhibitor DecoPac displayed myriad tools to create wonderful themed cakes, and Rich Products of Canada highlighted its flavoured icings and new berry cake.
The National Wedding Cake Competition joined the Decorative Bread Competition this year for the first time at Bakery Showcase. The competition featured two categories: one for professionals and one for students. The first-place winner for the professional category was Trang Nguyen of Gateaux Fleurs de Paris Inc., with a beautiful classic cake decorated in white with gold lace and tuxedo accents. A beautiful burgundy rose on top punctuated the white-and-gold colour theme.
Emily Rigo of George Brown College triumphed in the student category with her elegant white and silver Cameo cake worthy of a vintage Hollywood star. All of the cake entries were stunning and it was especially exciting to see the future of the industry so aptly represented by the student contestants.
“The skill levels were evident in the quality of our professional and emerging talent,” Hetherington says. “We were pleased with the response for the first time having the wedding cake competition, and we’re looking at how we take it to the next level for 2012.”
At the Bakers Journal booth, our very own Brian Fray – the creative genius behind the popular Jake the Baker cartoons – met attendees and autographed posters. He thoroughly enjoyed having a chance to meet the people who read his cartoons and no doubt glimpse a little bit of themselves every issue through his art and humour.
The show’s new location at the International Centre, with its easy access to Pearson International Airport, proved to be a great fit. But the enthusiastic response to the show resulted in a spike in attendance that provided some congestion at the registration area.
“We’ll be looking at changing the registration process for the next show,” says Hetherington.
When queried as to whether he was satisfied with the show’s success, Hetherington deferred to his constituents.
“It’s really a question of what do the attendees and exhibitors think of the show? That’s what’s important.”
Based on the excitement and innovation at Bakery Showcase 2010, it seems Canadian bakers and their suppliers have an abundance of reasons to look forward to where the industry is headed – and to eagerly anticipate the next edition of Bakery Showcase in 2012.
Michelle Brisebois is a marketing professional with experience in the food, pharmaceutical and financial services industries. She specializes in helping companies grow their brands and can be reached at email@example.com.