Face-to-Face: Meet Lorin DeBonte October 2018

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...

Lorin DebonteLorin DeBonte, research leader, Large Chain Food Service, Global Edible Oil Solutions, Cargill Inc.

  1. How did you get your start in the food industry?
    I started working in the food industry in high school at a small Italian restaurant in my home town. The owner brought his recipes from Italy, which created distinction from the main line restaurants. He used fresh ingredients to incorporate into the back of the house preparation. Our attention to the details of preparation and presentation kept our customers coming back. After college, I started my career developing trans fat free frying oils, which combined the elements of breeding and producing high oleic canola oils with frying stability and taste. I worked hand-in-hand with CPG companies, potato par fryers, and restaurants to identify the right flavor profiles for the oil. We fried a lot of products to evolve the oil and canola genetics to perfection.

  2. What do you love about your job?
    I love the people I get to work with every day whether it is at Cargill or our customers. We are all striving for the same things: better nutrition, great food, quality, an innovative approach to new food systems, community, and happy families. Food is the focal point in all of this. I enjoy the ability to work globally with my colleagues to bring new concepts through ingredients and supply chains to our customers. The project teams are made up of diverse backgrounds, which is invigorating as we push the boundaries of what we know today.

  3. What is the biggest challenge that you face in your job?
    The speed of food product evolution and being able to establish the ingredient supply chain fast enough to meet the demand. When we look at new oils on the market, there is a long development time to have any products in sufficient volume to manage demand and risks. Being a global leader has its challenges in connecting to customers and teams wherever the rising sun is to the setting sun. Some days you just run out of hours to get it all done.

  4. What have you learned or been exposed to in the past 12 months that has helped you in your job?
    I have learned to work in the global food environment. It is complex and not often connected enough to take advantage of regional learnings. We have different supply chain options, food designs, regulatory, and trending consumer preferences. I have learned how to bring teams together to share and capture knowledge to bring solutions to our customers.

  5. How do you see the food industry evolving over the coming year?
    The food industry will continue to consolidate into groups being managed by investors to drive cost management and efficiency. The industry will continue to evolve product formulations with clean simple labels, non-GMO, and sustainable sourcing. The automation of ordering or viewing food choices through apps is mainstream whether from your home or office. I expect to see more investment in this area. Home food delivery will address quality issues to continue to grow the opportunity. We have been through the elimination of partially hydrogenated fats so expect the focus to shift to saturate reduction in the oil platforms.

  6. Fun Fact: What’s your favorite food?
    Italian food is my favorite as it is core to my family heritage. Family is about conversation around the table, sharing stories and great food. There is such diversity across the regions of Italy that you are never without new combinations to prepare. The multiple courses brings connections of flavor and texture from the first dish to the last. I enjoy preparing a dinner of the seven fishes, which I have expanded to 18 fish dishes, for a large group of friends on Christmas Eve. Fortunately, my Italian menu is served in courses for ease of preparation. Be ready for 3 hours at least of eating.

If you are an IFT member and wish to be profiled, please contact Kelly Hensel at khensel@ift.org or 312-604-0211.