Margaret A. Lawson

The Institute of Food Technologists was established in 1939 in part to foster and nurture sound science leadership in the food science and technology profession. Today, IFT remains dedicated to delivering and representing true sound science leadership.

My role as IFT President is to serve as steward of our goals and vision, coupled with my unwavering support for IFT to continue as the bastion of scientific integrity. It is imperative to maintain the scientific credibility of IFT, granting our members the ability to guide research and to positively influence regulatory decision making based on sound scientific knowledge. The ultimate value of IFT lies within building its scientific foundation and fostering the connection with the scientific community at large.

My main aspirations and plans for IFT’s future are reflected in IFT’s five long-range goals:
• IFT will be a primary worldwide resource of scientific and professional-based food science information. IFT’s core value is sound science leadership, and we reinforce this through the development of expert reports, Scientific Status Summaries, and our Annual Meeting scientific program. Thanks to the newly formed Annual Meeting Scientific Program Task Force, a new and invigorated scientific program is being developed for next year’s IFT Annual Meeting.

• IFT is also our members’ primary resource for knowledge and professional development. We are a scientific community committed to professional development and lifelong learning. The IFT Annual Meeting + Food Expo®, IFT seminars, workshops, and conferences are designed to provide IFT members with the latest technical information. IFT strives for an active forum for the free exchange of ideas and information among all food science professionals.

• IFT is a leading advocate for science on food-related issues. Our strength depends on the truly interdisciplinary nature of food science. We rely on the collaboration among the basic sciences necessary for the food industry, government, and academia. Our vigor is the cross-disciplinary scientific approach for a safe food supply, which includes promotion of public policy without sacrificing integrity. IFT brings to our profession and outside audiences a multidisciplinary focus which serves as a resource and unified voice for all disciplines of food science and technology.

• IFT is acknowledged and respected as a supporter of organizations with common interests. IFT’s elected officers and staff work tirelessly to create an enriching environment for partnerships with noteworthy allied organizations and coalitions to further continuing education, mutual professional benefits, and appropriate public policy.

• IFT will continue to be financially secure and stable. The reality is that IFT does not have unlimited resources. IFT’s Executive Committee strategically evaluates and identifies the programs and services that we hope are most beneficial to our members. The IFT Foundation is challenged to secure funding for the new IFT programs. IFT’s officers remain dedicated to meeting the demands of the profession and IFT members, while ensuring that IFT remains financially secure.

Based on the ongoing strategic work of task forces recently established by immediate Past President Herbert Stone, we are taking a close look at the demographic makeup of our membership. The main focus is on future leadership and future members. The hope is to ensure a nurturing and beneficial place for every member within IFT. The challenge is to find a balance between implementing critical changes within IFT that respects our historical base yet meets current members’ needs while staying in front of the food science profession’s issues.

What are some of today’s issues? How does the changing world around us affect the state of the food industry? We must be aware of the global realities prevalent today, including the growth of the world population, the deterioration of clean water sources, and the reduction of farm land, all of which force technological advancements to improve the efficiency of providing food from the farm to the table. We will be the scientists to generate and share the technology to improve the world’s food supply.

So what does the landscape of the food industry look like today? There are a decreasing number of multinational food companies, an increasing number of medium-sized companies that provide high-quality ingredients or finished food products, and an increasing number of smaller startup companies. University food science departments are spending an exorbitant amount of time trying to secure funds for research and new faculty. What does this mean for IFT? How can we support the changing academic and corporate environment? This is certainly a challenge.

We look to our IFT members as the driving force for positive change and growth within our association. Please join me, the Executive Committee members, the Council representatives, and the committee and task force volunteers as we build on the solid IFT foundation established by our earlier members, while creating a solid and cohesive bridge to our future.

by Margaret A. Lawson,
IFT President, 2005–06
Technical Services Manager, T. Hasegawa USA, Cerritos, Calif.
[email protected]