Philip E. Nelson

It is now officially correct to admit that the economy is in a recession. Not that this recognition makes any difference—we have all felt the impact, even more so since September 11. The impact on IFT is no different.

Fortunately, IFT had developed economic policies over the years that put aside monies for a “rainy day.” This means that IFT is still economically sound. However, we are faced with declining revenues that require us to take significant actions to avoid deficit spending and dipping further into our reserves. With projections of a revenue shortfall, a Financial Planning Task Force was put in place to review our situation and to begin to lay out plans to adjust this year’s budget.

Committees were asked to review their efforts for this year, to prepare for a budget contraction and consider other ways to package their efforts to reduce expenses. At our October meetings, the committees responded, and significant savings were accomplished by altering program goals or by delaying implementation. In these tight times, most committees agreed to forego their March meetings in Chicago by using e-mail and conference calls to accomplish their business.

IFT’s office practices have been reviewed to reduce costs, and staff ’s contributions to revenue generation have been further evaluated. Opening-night-speaker expenses at the Annual Meeting will be reduced, as will the Presidents’ travel expenses. We have postponed work on a major expert report on functional foods. All in all, we identified more than $600,000 that can be eliminated or put on hold until signs of a recovering economy appear imminent.

This is not the way I had dreamed of spending my year as IFT President. However, one must take what one gets and deal with it. Believe me, IFT has not come to a halt. Committees are invoking new ways to accomplish their goals even better and will become “leaner and meaner.” We are addressing new challenges such as bioterrorism and will begin new planning for the future.

Our volunteer society is as strong as its members, and I have learned that food scientists and technologists are tough and thrive on challenges.

IFT’s lease is up, and in February we’re relocating our headquarters office to a new location in downtown Chicago (525 West Van Buren St., Chicago, IL 60607). During the past two years, IFT’s Task Force on Headquarters Relocation has provided guidance and oversight for this monumental project. Stay tuned for more details in the next issue of Food Technology.

IFT President, 2001–02
Head, Dept. of Food Science, Purdue University