Many baking companies attend the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE), held in Las Vegas on Sept. 17-21, with the intention of looking at making a capital investment in new equipment. While capacity and labor constraints have given commercial bakers an appetite to invest, supply chain bottlenecks and long lead times have been a hindrance to getting new production lines started up as quickly as in years past. 

Bakers’ appetites for investment don’t seem to be waning despite the long lead times for equipment, and many have accepted that this is the new normal.   

“I think we’re already accepting that deliveries are going to be long,” says Jason Frye, committee member and senior vice president of supply chain and planning, Flowers Foods, Thomasville, Ga. “Early on in COVID, people were more optimistic about deliveries being on schedule, but suppliers are getting hit by it on all sides, whether its Allen Bradely or small parts. I think we’ve accepted the fact that 12 months is a realistic timeline for a lot of equipment.”

While bakers may be understanding and generally accepting of the new normal, committee members did anticipate the issue would be a necessary conversation on the show floor.

“I’m sure none of us coming as a baker are only coming to try and shorten the delivery times,” says Jorge Zarate, IBIE vice chairman and senior vice president of global operations and engineering, Grupo Bimbo, Mexico City. “But obviously the situation is forcing us to get into very close contact with our suppliers, and IBIE is the perfect moment to do that. You’ll have everyone in the same room, so it’s easier to review what’s going on.”

That’s the benefit of bringing the entire industry together in person for IBIE, says IBIE 2022 Chairman Dennis Gunnell, president of Formost Fuji.

“IBIE is hopefully a place where you can get some answers because you’ll have all your suppliers there, and you’ll have the opportunity to talk to them about it,” he says. “None of us as exhibitors should be going to the show blindly thinking that’s not going to be a point of conversation.”

IBIE will provide bakers the opportunity to build on their supplier relationship and give them face-to-face interactions to try to find solutions to these challenges the baking industry is facing. 

“From a baker perspective, we would agree that now is the time for relationships,” Frye says. “With the delays that we’ve seen in the supply chain, the relationships we’ve had between bakers and suppliers is even more important than it’s ever been. You learn who you really can rely on and who you need to be working with.”