Improving the industry's 'Foodsmarts'

by Keith Nunes
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The food industry’s scientific and technical community will gather in Chicago at the city’s massive convention center, McCormick Place, July 27 to Aug. 1 for the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo. The event, which attracts more than 20,000 visitors from around the world, will focus on the product development trends that will shape the industry’s future. The show, which has been branded under the name "Foodsmarts," serves as a forum for food scientists and technologists to discuss the latest research related to product development.

The theme for this year’s meeting is health and wellness, a trend that has touched just about every aspect of the food production business. Many of the event’s general and scientific sessions will focus on how the health and wellness trend is evolving as well as the scientific challenges companies face in developing and marketing healthy products.

Two of the I.F.T.’s general sessions will focus on the trend. On Monday, July 30, for example, the topics of obesity, food safety, trans fat, sustainability, international regulations, tariffs, and addressing the issue of bioengineered organisms will be the focal point for a session titled "Senior executives cut the fat on industry’s approach to health, wellness and foods."

Speaking on the topics will be Marc Belton, executive vice-president of worldwide health, brand and new business development for General Mills, Inc., Minneapolis; Lance Friedmann, senior vice-president of global health, wellness and sustainability for Kraft Foods Inc., Northfield, Ill., and Chor San Heng Khoo, an executive with Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J.

How health and wellness is defined varies by country. The speakers, who all work for companies that have a global presence, will put in perspective how the topic differs around the world. The issue of functional foods also will be discussed. As the meeting’s organizers have noted, it has not been so much a lack of technology that has hampered the growth of the functional food market, but finding a new approach and model to develop and market the products.

While the first general session will look at the current market situation facing food companies, the second general session, to be held July 31, will look ahead. Four trend tracking and regulatory experts will discuss future directions and provide insights into future food and beverage opportunities, and regulatory issues facing the food industry in North America and abroad.

With health and wellness now a principal driver of the global food industry, Barbara Katz, president of HealthFocus International, St. Petersburg, Fla., will start the session with HealthFocus’ 2007 survey highlights on changing consumers’ health, nutrition and wellness attitudes, behaviors and concerns. She will provide insights into marketing to today’s varying generations, prioritize key issues and identify emerging opportunities.

With many trends starting abroad and a world of new creative food and beverage concepts exploding, LuAnn Williams, senior analyst for Innova Market Insights, Duiven, The Netherlands, will identify what trends and product categories have staying power and what products and packaging efforts translate across borders. Innova Market Insights is one of the world’s leading new product and global trend-tracking groups.

Emerging trends within the food service segments also will be a focus of the session. With restaurants setting the trends for tomorrow’s food industry, Joe Pawlak, vice-president, of Technomic, Inc., Chicago, will talk about the macro trends underlying away-from-home food choices and concerns, up-and-coming industry issues and future directions for the restaurant and food service industries.

To provide a perspective on the regulatory issues surrounding the health and wellness trend will be Peter Barton Hutt, a partner in the firm of Covington & Burling, Washington, D.C., an adjunct food and drug law professor at Harvard Law School, and former chief counsel for the Food and Drug Administration.

What sets the I.F.T. apart from other meetings is the breadth of its education sessions. During the course of the meeting, more than 30 hours of panel discussions will be held and cover (see "Scientific session," this issue, Page 48) diverse topics such as whether a ban on trans fat is a healthy solution to the interface between food and pharmaceuticals.

Oral sessions, fast-paced research presentations, also will be held throughout the meeting and allow researchers to present their findings on a wide variety of topics. Over 45 sessions will be held on specific topics such as food microbiology, dairy foods applications and thermal processing. A full list of the sessions may be found at www.ift.org.

It is show time

Central to the I.F.T. is its exposition, and industry suppliers from around the world will be exhibiting products and services. While the overall theme of this year’s meeting is health and wellness, exhibitors will be showing their full lines of products. Approximately 1,000 companies will utilize 250,000 square feet of show floor space.

For added convenience, show planners have added several specialty pavilions to centralize the purveyors of certain products throughout this year’s show floor (see "Specialty pavilions" above).

Other special pavilions at this year’s exposition will include two manned by representatives from Mintel International, Chicago and the Research Chefs Association (R.C.A.), Houston. Mintel researchers will make presentations on a variety of topics, including new food introductions. The presentations also will include an opportunity to taste many of the recently introduced products.

The R.C.A. will present live cooking demonstrations on the show floor. Each day a new duo of chefs and scientists will present an innovative food product that addresses the nutritional needs of a specific demographic group.

For more information on this year’s I.F.T. Annual Meeting and Food Expo, visit www.ift.org. Schedule changes and exhibitor booth listings will be updated regularly.

Schedule at a glance

Friday, July 27

8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Pre-meeting short courses

9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Global Chinese health food symposium

Saturday, July 28

8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Pre-meeting short courses

8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Global Chinese health food symposium

5:30 p.m. - 6:45 p.m.

Awards ceremony

7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Reception

Sunday, July 29

9 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Keynote address

11 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Exposition open

2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Scientific sessions

2 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Poster sessions

4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Scientific sessions

Monday, July 30

8:30 a.m. - 10 a.m.

Scientific sessions

8:30 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.

General session

8:30 a.m. - Noon

Poster sessions

10:30 a.m. - Noon

Scientific sessions

11 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Exposition open

2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Scientific sessions

2 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Poster sessions

4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Scientific sessions

Tuesday, July 31

8:30 a.m. - 10 a.m.

Scientific sessions

8:30 a.m. - 10 a.m.

General session

8:30 a.m. - noon

Poster sessions

10:30 a.m. - noon

Scientific sessions

11 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Exposition open

2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Scientific sessions

2 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Poster sessions

4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Scientific sessions

Wednesday, Aug. 1

8 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.

International nanotechnology conference

9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Global food safety and quality conference

Scientific sessions

Sunday, July 29

2 p.m. - 3:35 p.m.

Is a trans fat ban a healthy solution? Viewpoints from around the world

Linking food, nutrition and health: Perspectives from health focused associations

4 p.m. - 5:35 p.m.

Impact on illness: Recent learning on safe food handling

The WHO/F.A.O. global strategy for diet, physical activity and health, and potential responses from the food industry

Global emergence of nutraceuticals and functional foods

Monday, July 30

8:30 a.m. - 10:05 a.m.

F.A.O./WHO experts decide to redefine dietary fiber as intrinsic plant cell wall polysaccharides

Meeting the learning outcome assessment expectation for I.F.T. program re-approval

10:30 a.m. - 12:05 p.m.

Research/development and food chemistry roles in response to crisis events

What constitutes a fruit or vegetable serving equivalent in processed products?

2 p.m. - 3:35 p.m.

Food packaging and the quest for environmental sustainability

Health augmenting fermented dairy, indigenous and ethnic foods: New developments

Late Breaking Session: Topic to be announced

4 p.m. - 5:35 p.m.

Health augmenting alcoholic beverages

Vendor qualifications: Streamlining information exchange between raw material vendors and manufacturers

Is there life after the food contact notification program? What are the legal/regulatory alternatives to food additive petitions for new food packaging?

Tuesday, July 31

8:30 a.m. - 10:05 a.m.

Innovation and commercialization clusters: A competitive advantage for food science and technology development

Interface between food and pharmaceuticals

Point counterpoint: Where science meets funding, part 1

10:15 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.

Point counterpoint: Where science meets funding, part 2

4 p.m. - 5:35 p.m.

Prebiotics for enhancing health and functionality

Professional development 101: How to successfully transition into your first job

Professional skills development seminars

Tuesday, July 31

8:30 a.m. - 10 a.m.: How to negotiate with vendors and suppliers

Understand the basics of successful negotiating.

Replace bargaining anxiety with purchasing confidence.

Get the price and terms you and your organization need.

10:30 a.m. - Noon: The essentials of communicating with diplomacy and professionalism

Learn to deal with difficult customers, co-workers and others.

Deflect rude and cutting remarks and look good doing it.

Handle the toughest questions with finesse.

1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.: Asset protection and retirement planning

Learn how an asset protection plan can safeguard your home or child’s college education fund. Discuss how an asset protection plan discourages lawsuits.

Keep the cost of living and taxes from eroding your quality of life in retirement.

Examine the components of a solid retirement plan.

2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.: Conflict resolution and confrontation management

Gain new insights into workplace conflicts and recognize how personalities and attitudes affect outcomes.

Learn the importance of valid feedback; how to give it and how to benefit from it.

Learn to recognize the first signs of potentially disruptive conflict and deal with it before the crisis stage.

4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.: Excelling as a highly effective team leader

How to coordinate, clarify and focus team members’ efforts without cutting into their creativity.

How to provide feedback that encourages, inspires and sparks results.

How to set goals and boundaries that can change and empower the team as it matures.

Specialty pavilions

As an added convenience for visitors, this year’s Institute of Food Technologists annual meeting and exposition will feature specialty pavilions where the exhibitors of specific products will be clustered. Pavilion topics will include:

• Healthy Food Ingredients: The newest functional and nutraceutical products will be on display.

• Food Safety and Quality: Instruments, services, processing and packaging technologies to ensure the safety of food products will be exhibited.

• Organic Food Ingredients: Ingredients for the development of U.S. Department of Agriculture certified organic products will be exhibited.

• International: Products and services from companies outside the U.S. will be on display.

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Food Business News, July 10, 2007, starting on Page 45. Click here to search that archive.

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