IFT: A diamond of a show

by Joanie Spencer, Baking & Snack
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As it looks back on 75 years in operation, the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) has reason to rejoice — and much to ponder. At the 2014 Annual Meeting and Food Expo, the organization will reflect on past contributions of food science and task both current and future members to consider the responsibility food science has in ¬≠regard to feeding the world’s ever-expanding population.

Sure, it’s hard to be away from the job for three days — for anyone in an office, lab, on the production floor or holding a teaching position or taking classes. But when those three days are spent at the annual meeting, attendees can accomplish quite a bit in that much time.

With a gathering of more than 20,000 food professionals with responsibilities ranging from R&D, product development, executive management, education, public policy and more, IFT’s annual meeting offers attendees unlimited ways to increase knowledge, create new contacts and grow their businesses. “You’re immediately plugged into key professional relationships, which give you access to industry experts and all those who are decision makers in the food world,” said Jerry Bowman, IFT’s vice-president of communications. 

As the food industry continues to grow in the ¬≠global marketplace and as a global community, this year’s meeting will help put everyone involved into a broader mindset.

Attendees will find inspiration in the June 22 keynote address from Doug Rauch, former president of Monrovia, CA-based Trader Joe’s. Mr. Rauch transformed that company from a nine-store operation into a national powerhouse with more than 340 stores in 30 states. He will share his perspective on the staggering population increase forecasted for the next 35 years and its effect on global agriculture and how we need to think about the distribution of food.

After his retirement from Trader Joe’s in 2008, Mr. Rauch started a non-profit organization aimed at using healthy eating initiatives in underserved and inner-city communities to solve problems such as food waste, hunger and obesity.

All technical sessions, symposia and the Food Expo take place at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center along the banks of the Mississippi River. The show’s 740 exhibitors will occupy 220,000 sq ft of the center’s 1.1 million sq ft of exhibit space.

As IFT celebrates its 75th year, the organization will highlight contributions to food science in the past, present and future in various ways. A new Innovations Center in the Food Expo hall showcases the most impactful contributions to food science during the past 75 years, as well as offering a glimpse of what the future holds. For a more detailed look ahead, two Beacon lectures will focus on the impacts of technology and challenges facing the world’s food supply.

 

On June 22, attendees can gain insight into the challenges facing global food security and, perhaps more importantly, learn about potential solutions from Jane Karuku, president, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. Ms. Karuku is the former deputy chief executive and secretary general of Telkom Kenya, the sole provider of landline phone services in Kenya.

In the second Beacon lecture on June 23, Hod Lipson, PhD, professor of engineering at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, will discuss 3D printing technology’s impact and effects on agriculture, food science and a host of other industries. Dr. Lipson is the author of Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing.

To celebrate this year’s milestone, IFT hosts “Diamonds & Donations,” a special fundraising and networking event set for 9 p.m. on June 22 at Generations Hall, located a block-and-a-half west of the convention center. This is a ticketed event at $75 per person, and for orders of 10 or more, the price drops to $67.50. Student tickets are also available for $50. All donations are tax-deductible.

All proceeds will support various programs from Feeding Tomorrow, IFT’s charitable foundation. Some of those include student scholarships and the Summer Scholars program at Cornell University, as well as the Developing Solutions for Developing Countries competition. “Most of the events at the meeting involving Feeding Tomorrow focus on how to get the next generation of food scientists involved in making a difference,” Mr. Bowman said. “Our big challenge is feeding nearly

9 billion people by 2050, and food science and technology are going to play a critical role.”

As in past years, IFT’s scientific program will address the hottest topics facing the food industry, including food safety, product development, nutrition, sustainability and more. The program is organized into three tracks: Key Focus Area includes topics such as food safety and defense and public policy; Core Science covers food chemistry, food microbiology, food engineering and sensory science; Other Education will examine the emerging topics of professional development and best practices, among others.

Registration is now open for the 2014 meeting. For a complete schedule and more information on specific programs, events and housing, visit www.am-fe.ift.org.
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