Las Vegas, NV, might not be Hollywood, but for the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) it’s close enough to launch the organization’s “What’s Cool About Being a Food Geek?” video competition at the IFT Annual Meeting and Food Expo. The video competition will culminate in an awards ceremony, The Poppys, at this year’s gathering to be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV, June 25-28.

The event offers professionals in the food industry access to more than 100 education sessions and 1,000 presentations covering topics such as food safety, health and nutrition, product development and ingredient innovation, public policy, sustainability, professional development and education, and processing and packaging. Food scientists also will find sessions about food chemistry, food microbiology, food engineering and sensory science. This year, IFT partners with Ajinomoto Co., Inc., Fort Lee, NJ, to bring attendees a complimentary scientific program digital library, which gives access to the meeting’s scientific program sessions, recordings of presentations and speaker biographies.

An exhibit hall filled with companies and organizations wanting to supply food companies with information, ingredients and equipment awaits attendees. Specialty and Trend pavilions help fast-forward expo-goers to the latest products available, while the Trend and Solution Tours help them navigate the show floor.

This year’s keynote session, held Tuesday, June 26, features speaker Howard Schultz, president, CEO and chairman of Starbucks Corp., Seattle, WA. Attendees will also hear from IFT leaders and learn what is new at IFT. This session also highlights three finalist videos in the competition. Winners will receive a Poppy award statue. A panel of five judges, consisting of IFT members and communication professionals, will judge the videos according to how creatively they answer the question, “What’s cool about being a food geek?” The panel will also consider production value.

The video competition isn’t the only new thing to hit IFT. The Making Healthy School Meals Easy Challenge also makes its debut this year. This competition will pit four teams against one another to convert recipes from the 2011 USDA Recipes for Healthy Kids competition into a manufactured product that maintains the original nutrition content, flavor and taste. Teams will be made up of four members: a chef, food technologist, manufacturer and school food service worker. The entries will be judged by an expert panel, with the winning team announced on the Expo floor June 27.

A variety of housing arrangements are available, with the LVH-Las Vegas Hotel and Casino as the meeting’s headquarters. Special rates at many Las Vegas hotels are available only through the IFT Housing Bureau. Hotel reservations must be made by May 21 to receive special show rates. To register or learn more, visit