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Sugar, Alternative Protein, Digitization, Pulse Ingredient Processing
Experts share predictions on the trends that will shape the future of the food industry at different points throughout the year. But a look at the most popular on-demand scientific sessions at SHIFT20, IFT’s virtual event and expo, gives a view into topics that are top-of-mind right now for food scientists and technologists, and the challenges they are working to solve. 

Following is a look at the top 10 most viewed scientific sessions at the virtual event.

1. Topping the list of most viewed content is a fireside chat on advances in rare sugars. People understand that sucrose sweetens food, but many don’t realize that it imparts functional properties as well. Striking a balance between attaining these functional benefits while reducing sugar due to consumer preference and nutrition guidelines is a constant challenge for food scientists. This presentation discusses the taste and flavor attributes, functionality, and processing of Allulose and Tagatose for reduced sugar foods and beverages. (Session 208)

2. Plant-based eating was a hot topic at SHIFT20, so it’s no surprise to see a symposium focused on the need to better understand consumer decision-making in order to engage the next generation of consumers and further evolve the category coming in 2nd on the list. Over the last decade, the plant-based sector has transitioned from niche to mainstream, showing a staggering growth of over 30% in the last two years. This session articulates the motivation for initial trial, repeat purchase, frequency of purchase, and attributes that drive liking in plant-based products, as well as novel processing technologies to create nutritive, cleaner, and tastier products under stringent guidelines. (Session PR 203)

3. Coming in 3rd is a science and technology symposium geared toward our sensory and consumer scientists, although these technologies do not belong exclusively to the domain of technical experts. App-based data collection, machine learning, alternate data streams, and graph-based knowledge management are four immediately available technologies transforming our ability to collect and analyze meaningful consumer data. This session provides insights into each of these technologies to help you discern which is the right option based on your research needs. (Session 229)

4. Next up is another science and technology session. This one focuses on coproducts from pulse ingredient processing. In recent years, pulse ingredients, such as flours, protein concentrates, protein isolates, and texturized proteins, have received much attention for their use in a variety of food products. Pulse ingredient processing produces several coproducts, such as starch, fibers, steep water, and aquafaba, that are valuable raw materials. This symposium reviews recent research advances on how to valorize these coproducts and their potential applications in food products.  (Session 103

5. Rounding out the top 5 is another session regarding plant-based foods. As the alternative protein market continues to gain momentum, significant hurdles remain for plant-based food manufacturers to create products that are equally compelling to their meat or dairy counterparts. This session discusses how improved product design rules, rooted in fundamental food and materials science, and the development of new ingredient technologies, including the emergence of synthetic biology and application of advanced physicochemical characterization techniques, are significantly improving the ability to design and deliver superior plant-based foods to consumers. (Session PR102)

6. Our 6th most viewed session falls in the health and nutrition area, with a look at the impact of diet on human health from the perspective of the gut microbiome. There is a proven relationship between gut bacteria and plasma metabolites, inflammatory markers, and the risk of developing various metabolic diseases. The microbiota can be readily modulated by exposures to different dietary compounds, which in turn have the potential to impact human physiology responses including digestion and absorption of nutrients, mucosal immune responses, and the synthesis of bioactive compounds. Therefore, it is critical to evaluate interactions between dietary compounds and the gut microbial community as it could have a significant impact on human health. It is also essential to understand this interaction for further development of nutraceuticals and functional foods. (Session 119)

7. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning for a safer, better, and more sustainable food production ecosystem takes the 7th spot on our list. AI and machine learning are increasingly being used in a variety of applications in the food industry. This session looks at digital agriculture, including AI and machine learning, and provides practical examples of how these tools can be used on the farm and in factories to improve decision-making in microbial food safety and food. It also covers how AI can be used to develop models to predict consumer preferences, trends, and market performance of existing and new products.  (Session 101

8. Returning to the health and nutrition arena, our 8th most viewed session covers evolution in the probiotics marketplace. Consumer acceptance of probiotics has grown rapidly over the past few years, and with this growth comes new demands for products that deliver more health benefits per serving. This session provides an overview of the current and future state of the probiotics market, critical elements of formulating to deliver the desired probiotic population throughout shelf-life, and how strain selection and formulation will evolve to deliver a better product for the consumer. It also explores the risks of mislabeling and economic adulteration in probiotic preparations.  (Session 129)

9. The next most viewed session delves into the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was designed to drive measurable improvements in food safety for U.S. consumers. This session utilizes the FDA Data Dashboard, as well as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, private food safety data, and related information, to provide insight into whether this new FDA approach is having an impact. In addition to quantitative data, panelists provide qualitative data case studies on the impact of FSMA from a food manufacturing facility perspective. (Session 109)

10. Rounding out the top 10 is a health and nutrition session centered around novel foods. This session provides an overview of the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, the current rules and regulatory process for naming and labeling new food technologies, trending labeling and marketing claims on meat and various other food products, how to legally make and substantiate claims, and the risk of non-compliance. (Session 118)

With more than 100 on-demand scientific sessions, the 10 most viewed sessions are only a fraction of what’s available for SHIFT20 attendees to explore. Fortunately, access to the scientific content, which also includes panel discussions, symposia, and technical research posters, is available through July 1, 2021, so it’s not too late to immerse yourself in this rich information, learn something new, and connect with experts in the various topic areas. Explore the program overview and register to access all the on-demand content on the SHIFT20 website

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