Face-to-Face: Meet Luis Fernandez
Ever wonder if anyone else is facing the same professional challenges as you? Or just looking to connect with some new people in your field? In IFT's Face-to-Face series, we will be introducing you to a different IFT member every month with a fun, insightful Q&A session.
This month meet...
Luis Fernandez, Applications Technology Leader Europe, Cargill.
- How did you get your start in the food industry?
When I was at high school I loved chemistry, mathematics, physics, and biology, so I decided to pursue my first degree in biochemistry (6 years). I didn’t know that the sciences dedicated to food would be my deepest passion. After that discovery, I completed a post-degree in food science (2 years) and started immediately after graduating in the food ingredient industry. As in many cases, my first job at Sanofi Bio Industries was just a lucky coincidence (found an ad in the newspaper) and helped me to discover the B2B and ingredient applied technology in all food categories.
- What do you love about your job?
Food science and technology is connected to the daily life of people of all ages. I feel excited about new finished products and ingredient development, understanding consumer expectations, and fitting the project constraints. Customer partnership and leading a team engage me strongly.
- What is the biggest challenge that you face in your job?
The biggest challenge is to connect the food technology family internally and externally. Avoid reinventing the wheel and thinking in silos. Promote sharing knowledge, open innovation, and service-oriented behavior. The food stakeholders (consumers, producers, suppliers, retailers, foodservices, legislation, etc.) became more demanding and we have to satisfy the most challenging expectations for finished product quality, ingredient functionality, and cost.
- What have you learned or been exposed to in the past 12 months that has helped you in your job?
I reconfirmed the critical importance of “consumer education.” The perception of good-for-you, natural, minimally processed … might be fully loaded with bias and lack of information. The different understanding and position around the globe related to GMO, food irradiation, clean label, sustainability.
In the volunteer arena, I learned a lot about “change leadership” in my 2 year assignment as President-elect and member of the board of IUFoST. I also enjoyed the learning experience on “fair judgment” as jury panel member in different awards (developing solutions for developing countries, global industry innovation award, food and health ingredient Europe innovation award).
- How do you see the food industry evolving over the coming year?
Evolution not revolution … new ingredients, raw materials, processes, packaging, letting producers develop new finished foods exceeding consumer desires (texture, taste, flavor, appearance, health claim, stability, shelf life) at acceptable price. Food security will remain a fundamental call for action to all food partners (industry, NGO, academia, government) in order to create a sustainable solution. On the other side, weight management will maintain a key focus to mitigate obesity.
- Fun Fact: What’s your favorite food?
My favorite food is “vareniki” which is a Ukrainian food prepared by my grandmother and very popular in Ukraine. I was lucky to taste it again when I visited the country recently and saw my relatives. This tasty Slavic food is embedded in my greatest memories from childhood and will stay with me for life. It is synonymous with affection, family, comfort, and well being.
If you are an IFT member and wish to be profiled, please contact Kelly Hensel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-604-0211.