Feeding Innovation at IFT 15

by Joanie Spencer
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On the global stage, food science finds itself at a crossroads. Consumers, especially those in an ever-­increasing global middle class, are demanding healthier food — and more of it — while at the same time expressing mistrust for commercially made food and science in general. At IFT15, set for July 11-14 in Chicago and organized by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), industry, academia and government will come together at the crossroads to address these issues and more.

“We chose the theme ‘Where science feeds innovation’ because it really is an opportunity to get a great blend of the science that’s sparking innovation and creating new products while seeing how it’s supplied in a global marketplace,” said Kelly Fox, IFT’s vice-president of meetings and events.

While the food needs of a middle class might be growing worldwide, “The global food system is becoming a pretty small place, which is why this meeting is so important,” explained Jerry Bowman, vice-president of communications. Faced with consumer demands for different products from different parts of the world, IFT15 attendees have an opportunity to find solutions in one place, as this meeting typically attracts exhibitors and attendees from about 100 different countries.

Between education sessions, keynote presentations and the trade show floor, attendees will get a well-rounded experience of the most innovative advances in food science. “You’re seeing the latest developments in the science of food, and it’s a place where you can actually see, touch and taste those products right on the event floor and then learn more about them in the scientific and applied sessions,” Mr. Bowman said.

IFT15 has added to this year’s lineup a CEO panel titled “Is Big Food Bad Food?” moderated by Ron Insana, CNBC and MSNBC contributor and writer for Money magazine and USA Today. Panelists, who at press time included Alan D. Wilson, McCormick Co., Sparks, MD, and Javad Ahmed, Tate & Lyle, Chicago, will marry perception with the reality of the food business. “It’s a unique opportunity to get a top-level view of what’s happening in the industry,” Mr. Bowman said.

In its 75th year, IFT continues to look toward the future of feeding the world through its “FutureFood 2050” initiative. During the July 12 general session, “FutureFood 2050: the Art of Producing a Science-Based Documentary” will showcase the process of making IFT’s documentary film Food Evolution from Oscar-nominated director Scott Hamilton Kennedy. The documentary is scheduled for release at film festivals later this year, but attendees will get a sneak peak during this general session.

“FutureFood 2050 is a rallying point for our members, but more importantly, it’s a platform for public outreach efforts so we can show the promise of food science as a positive solution for feeding the 9 billion people that will inhabit the planet by 2050,” Mr. Bowman explained. More information can be found at www.futurefood2050.com.

Covering floor space equal to almost seven football fields, IFT15 is a mammoth event that requires advance planning to get the most out of it. This year, IFT developed a mobile app to help plan ahead and navigate the show from a smartphone or tablet. To download the app, visit the Apple or Google Play app stores and search IFT15.  

Early bird registration is now open with a ­discounted rate through May 29. For information and to register, visit www.am-fe.ift.org.

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