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IFT’s Business FIRST stage made its in-person debut this July with three full days of offerings spanning some of the hottest topics facing the science of food community, from how to curb food waste to an up-to-the-minute look at how the profession is changing. Did you miss a panel or wish you could revisit a favorite one? We’ve got you covered. Here’s a sampling of some of the best-attended sessions:
“State of the Profession (Part 1): Recruiting, Compensating, and Retaining Tomorrow’s Food Leaders.” Has the science of food profession entered a new era? In this panel, three career experts—a recruiter, an HR executive, and an advocate for women’s advancement—delved into how the pandemic and “The Great Resignation” are reshaping the industry. “Almost every [job] candidate I speak to is looking for a remote position because they want work-life balance,” said Moira McGrath, president of the executive search firm OPUS International. “They are less willing to relocate, and that’s making it difficult for food manufacturers to find the right candidates.” Women, in particular, are reevaluating job offers before jumping at them, added Angela Dodd, founder of The Females in Food Community, with many opting to become “solopreneurs” to safeguard control over their work lives. Listen in to this nuanced discussion that includes trends in recruitment, salaries, and pay equity. “We’re trying to figure out what this hybrid world is going to look like," said Henry Artalejo, a senior vice president at Griffith Foods, “because not everybody’s rushing back to the office.”
“Tackling Food Waste: Defining the Problem, Innovating Solutions.” An estimated 40 percent of food produced globally is lost and wasted, while more than 250 million of the world’s population are acutely hungry or starving. How can this be? And what can we do about it? A panel of experts discussed a way forward that offers concrete solutions and hope for the future. Hear about a comprehensive action plan for significantly reducing food loss and waste by 2030 from Alexandria Coari, vice president of capital, innovation, and engagement at the nonprofit ReFED, and learn from innovators who are implementing change globally, like Lisa Berger, cofounder of Zero Bullshit in Stuttgart, Germany. Berger described how her company used upcycled, edible food waste to successfully develop and market the Better Cracker, a high-protein, high-fiber snack. “The public thinks that food waste means poor quality—food that goes in the bin,” she said. “We wanted to show that it is possible to combine healthiness with sustainability and good taste.” Addressing food waste in the developing world, Purdue University entomologist Dieudonné Baributsa shared how his game-changing grain storage bags have been adopted by some 10 million farmers in Africa, Asia, and beyond. Hermetically sealed, the bags keep crops dry and free of pests, reducing needless waste and improving the local food supply.
“Innovators on the Edge: Pushing the Boundaries of Science to Feed a Hungry Planet.” Podcaster and food scientist Adam Yee of My Food Job Rocks! moderated this panel of four successful entrepreneurs who’ve brought food startups to life using unconventional ingredients. Featured guests included Kirsten Sutaria, cofounder of Doozy Pots, a “tiny little plant-based ice cream company” and the first to craft ice cream from hemp and oats; Thomas Jonas of Nature’s Fynd who grows fungi in the former Chicago Stockyards to make protein-rich cream cheese and breakfast patties now sold at popular grocery chains; Joshua Nixon, cofounder of Prime Roots, a company focused on crafting the next generation of meat alternatives with a product about to hit the market; and Minh Tsai, founder of Hodo Foods, who’s been cooking up the perfect tofu in San Francisco for two decades. The four discussed everything from the attributes of a successful cofounder—“somebody who has accepted to not be paid for a while,” joked Jonas—to how to secure capital, recruit talent, and distinguish themselves with compelling storytelling in a crowded marketplace.
IFT FIRST programming is available to all total access, student, emeritus, and online experience attendees through December 31, 2022. Watch the sessions you missed or revisit those you found particularly enthralling.
If you completely missed the live event, it’s not too late. You can still gain on-demand access here.
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