Phil Perkins, PhD

Phil Perkins, PhDPhil Perkins (b.1959) is Senior Vice President and Director of Research, Development & Innovation for Bush Brothers & Company. He was born and educated in the United Kingdom, graduating from the University of Exeter with B.Sc.(Honours) in Chemistry in 1980 and a Ph.D. in 1983. His career spans thirty years of working for world-class consumer goods companies, starting with Whitbread PLC (England), moving to M&M Mars (England), then to Grand Metropolitan/Diageo/Pillsbury (England and the USA) and now with Bush Brothers & Company.

Phil joined the IFT in 1991 and has been actively involved on a local level since 1993. As a Professional Member of IFT, Phil was honored with the title of IFT Fellow in 2011 for "extraordinary contributions in the field of food science and technology". Presently, Phil is a member of the Volunteer Section of IFT; he serves on the Finance Committee; and was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Feeding Tomorrow in 2013.

In addition to his work with IFT, Phil serves on the Grocery Manufacturers Association's Scientific & Regulatory Affairs Executive Committee, and served as a GMA Research & Education Foundation Board Member from 2004 to 2009. Phil is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Tennessee in the Department of Food Science &Technology and has served in that capacity since 2004.

Phil has been married to Gillian for 30 years and they have two children, Gemma (25) and Ben (22). Gemma is a Sign Language Interpreter working for the Florida School for the Death & Blind in St. Augustine and Ben has a Marketing degree and is working in Denver.

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What do you feel you can contribute to the growth and advancement of IFT?
Throughout my career I have been actively involved in a number of boards where I have been seen as an effective contributor. I believe IFT is uniquely positioned to make a difference to the way food science and technology is perceived around the world. Food Science is fun and I want to see more bright and talented individuals consider food science as their career of choice. Membership of IFT is key to a successful career in Food Science & Technology and I see great opportunities for IFT to grow with more outreach to Universities, Colleges and Schools to create valuable and sustainable partnerships.

What are the three most important strategic issues facing the profession and the industry that align with IFT’s goals and how would you address these as a member of the Board of Directors?
There are many important issues facing the food industry today. If asked to pick the three most important strategic issues I would say:

  • Food & Safety;
  • Global Diet and Health and;
  • Food Technology & Innovation (to address 1 and 2).
  • Food Safety: The U.S. Food Industry has been subject to much scrutiny in recent years due to the significant increase in both number and size of food recalls by both the FDA and USDA and yet we have one of the world’s safest food supplies. The CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. The IFT Board can and should take a leadership position in promoting food safety and defense programs through contacts with the government and commercial organizations. There are excellent past examples of work done by our members that give us the credibility needed for the government to seek out our help. The board should advocate strongly the use of credible science to influence government policy and public opinion. However, we should not rest on our laurels; we should work to continually improve the safety of our food supply. IFT’s role is to assist and advocate good science and to take the emotion out of these matters.
  • Global Diet and Health: It is shocking that the number of overweight people in the world outnumber those who are malnourished. The IFT Board and its global membership base should seek ways to redress this imbalance with education and technology development programs. A significant step has been the IFT Student Association competition for “Developing Foods for Developing Countries”. The inclusion of international student groups from abroad is both important and admirable. We should take this to the next step and help promote these ideas in the target countries rather than just facilitate a competition.
  • Food Technology & Innovation: This is not the answer in-and-of-itself, but Food Technology & Innovation can be a strong contributor to making food supplies safer and to address both obesity and hunger. The IFT Board can add value by focusing resources on projects that will truly make a difference in these important areas. The increasing interest in food technology and innovation can be seen on the IFT convention floor at the annual meeting. I am also convinced that the entries to the innovation award are getting better year on year. Perhaps we can showcase the best ideas as part of a marketing campaign.

Why do you want to serve on the Board of Directors and how has your work and volunteer experiences prepared you to be a strategic board member?
I am seen as an active contributor and as someone who brings positive energy to work groups. I have served on several boards during my career and I treat Board Membership as a serious commitment in both time and energy. I am confident that my colleagues on the Finance Committee and on Feeding Tomorrow would vouch for me there. Another example is my involvement with the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and resulting appointment to the GMA Science & Regulatory Affairs Council (SRAC) followed by an invitation to serve on the SRAC Executive Committee. The GMA's five strategic pillars are Product Safety; Health & Wellness; Sustainability; Value Chain Optimization and Global Commerce. As an SRAC Executive Committee member I was part of the team who identified the Mission of the SRAC; namely "Develop science-based solutions that improve the safety and nutritional value of the world's consumer products in order to inspire trust and confidence of the world's consumers".

During the course of my career I have had the opportunity to serve on several Boards. Examples include: Founding member and President of the Twin Cities Knowledge Management Forum; Board Member of the Food Update Foundation; Advisory Board Member for IdeaDollar.com; GMA's Research & Education Foundation Board; and GMA's Science & Regulatory Affairs Council Executive Committee.

I believe the IFT Board can leverage my experiences from serving the GMA for 10 years along with 20 years of involvement with IFT and 30 years in the food industry working with five companies in two countries. My experience has also been enlightened by the formation and chairing of a Technical Advisory Board for Bush Brother's & Company which has been in operation for 10 years and has included one former IFT president and three IFT Fellows.

What defines a successful board and how would you contribute?
A successful board is made up of individuals with diverse backgrounds, who see things from different perspectives and who are comfortable debating issues and opportunities. Board members should have a mutual respect for one another as a result of the value and experience each board member provides. Board members should be clear on their objectives and focused on their deliverables and should be able to disagree without being disagreeable. I have been fortunate in serving on several Boards that operate in this manner and I believe I can bring this philosophy and work-style to the IFT BOD.

Formal Education
Ph.D. 1983, Chemistry, Exeter, U.K.
B.Sc. (Honours), 1980, Exeter, U.K.

Career History

Company

Title

Start Date

End Date

Bush Brothers & Company (U.S.)

Senior Vice President and
Director of R&D and Innovation

2000

Present

GrandMet/Pillsbury/Diageo (U.S.)

Director/Senior Director

1991

2000

GrandMet (U.K.)

Senior Manager, Packaging and NPD

1989

1991

M&M Mars (U.K.)

Manager, Supplier Quality Assurance

1985

1989

Whitbread Plc. (U.K.)

Senior Scientist

1983

1985

Leadership Experience

Company/Org

Position

Start Date

End Date

Feeding Tomorrow Board of Trustees

Member

2013

Present

IFT Food Additives Tactical Team

Member

2013

Present

IFT EVP Search Committee

Member

2013

Present

IFT Finance Committee

Member

2012

Present

IFT Fellows Award Jury

Member

2011

2013

IFT Food Expo Innovation Award Jury

Member

2010

2011

IFT Community Member Test Group

Member

2010

2010

IFT Executive Leadership Forum Planning Group

Member

2010

2010

GMA Scientific & Regulatory Affairs Committee

Member

2009

Present

IFT Senior Executive Engagement Task Force

Member

2009

2010

IFT Social Media Focus Group

Participant

2009

2009

GMA-FPA Science Institute Board

Member

2007

2009

FPA Research & Education Foundation Board

Member

2004

2009

University of Tennessee, Department of
Food Science and Technology

Adjunct Professor

2003

Present

NFPA Regulatory & Scientific Affairs Committee

Member

2002

2006

Food Update Foundation

Board Member

2002

2006

Twin Cities Knowledge Management Forum

Founding Member

1997

1999

Professional and Community Recognition

  • IFT Fellow (2011)
  • Keynote Speaker: Food Technology & Innovation Forum (2010)
  • Speaker: Food Technology & Innovation Forum (2009)
  • Speaker: The Market Research Event (2008)
  • Wines of the South judge - over 440 wines from 60 wineries and 13 states (2006 to 2009)
  • Keynote Speaker & Co chair of The Annual Knowledge Management World Summit (1999)
  • Co-chair: Knowledge Management & Organizational Learning Forum (1998)
  • Speaker and Advisory Committee member: 1996 European Food and Drink Industry Forum.
  • Chairman and Speaker: 1995 European Food and Drink Industry Forum
  • County Council Scientific Advisor 1988 -1990; Berkshire U.K.
  • Speaker: L’Institut Francais de l’Embellage et du Conditionnement IFEC (1986)
  • Published six scientific papers and contributed to a number of U.S. Patents.