Purchasing seminar to take a look at energy issues

by Eric Schroeder
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KANSAS CITY — This year’s 30th annual Purchasing Seminar, presented by Food Business News and Milling & Baking News, will be held June 10-12 at the InterContinental hotel in Kansas City, and will feature 23 speakers covering ingredient markets, energy, transportation, packaging, the economy, trade and farm policy. Interest in the seminar has stepped up the past two years with the impact of biofuels, hedge fund participation and weather events.

A number of presentations at the seminar will explore the wide ranging ramifications of the surge in demand for agricultural products by the energy industry.

"We went through a period of time when input costs for bakers and food processors were relatively predictable, but that has changed, and now many of these costs have risen significantly while market volatility remains high," said Mark Sabo, president of Sosland Publishing Co., sponsor of the seminar. "We have had to expand the program to include additional food ingredients and have increased the coverage of non ingredient items, including packaging, transportation and energy, all of which have experienced significant price increases in the last several years."

A highlight of this year’s program will be a presentation on the economy delivered by Lowell Catlett, professor of economics, agriculture and genetic engineering at New Mexico State University. Dr. Catlett, who also is Dean of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics at New Mexico State, is a consultant to the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, the Interior, Defense and Labor and has been a consultant to many Fortune 500 companies. An acclaimed presenter, Dr. Catlett twice received the Don C. Roush Award for Excellence in Teaching and is a recipient of the prestigious Burlington Foundation Faculty Achievement Award for Outstanding University Teaching. In 1994 he was one of two Western Regional recipients of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges "Excellence in College and University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences Award."

In addition, the program will continue to focus on both domestic and global demand for wheat, corn, feed grains, sweeteners, shortening and oils. New this year will be presentations on ethanol’s impact by Rob Westmoreland, executive vice-president of Informa Economics, and a closer look at agricultural production for food and fuel, presented by Ron Madl, director of the Bioprocessing and Industrial Value-Added Program at Kansas State University. The view from Washington will be handled by Robbin Johnson of the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, who will discuss both the World Trade Agreement and upcoming farm bill.

"With all the issues in play this year we believe that the Purchasing Seminar takes on greater importance for procurement and supply chain managers," Mr. Sabo said. "We believe that the two-day program we have been able to organize will be information rich for anyone with responsibilities for managing input costs."

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