"Driving Growth and Sustainability Through Innovation" is the theme for the 2008 IFT Annual Meeting & Food ExpoSM, and its implicit focus on restoration and preservation makes it an appropriate choice for the event's return to New Orleans. Just as the city is experiencing a rebirth in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, so too does the Annual Meeting & Food Expo June 28 - July 1, provide an opportunity for professional sustenance and renewal, allowing attendees to reconnect with colleagues and suppliers, hear cutting-edge research presentations, and get a close-up look at the latest ingredients and technologies.
The Annual Meeting will offer about 15 sessions that directly address an aspect of environmental sustainability and its impact on the food industry, including a general session on that theme. As always, the agenda will reflect a combination of traditionally popular events and activities as well as some brand new approaches and offerings. For example, this year, for the first time, scientific program sessions will be split along five application-oriented tracks - a move designed to make it easier for attendees to manage their schedules and hone in on presentations of greatest interest. Also new this year are peer-selected Supplier Solution Sessions, which have been designed to provide attendees with an easy way to receive in-depth information and varied perspectives on food and beverage formulation and processing issues - all without leaving the expo floor. This year's sessions will focus on the topics of salt reduction, fiber, proteins, and weight management. (See sidebar on page 31 for a schedule of sessions.)
The event also will provide attendees with a chance to support the local community by participating in a hunger-fighting initiative. IFT has teamed with Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana for a program of fund-raising and volunteer activities. (For more information, see sidebar on page 35.)
More than 20,000 food industry professionals are expected to converge in New Orleans for the Annual Meeting & Food Expo. The Food Expo in the upgraded New Orleans Morial Convention Center will boast offerings from more than 900 exhibitors.
A City Reborn - and Ready
The Annual Meeting & Food Expo was last held in New Orleans in 2005, just weeks before the hurricane hit. The devastating impact of that natural disaster has been widely chronicled. What may not be quite so well known is the fact that, thanks to the far-reaching renovation and restoration efforts that followed Katrina, the downtown district and popular tourist destinations - while retaining their distinctive charm and character - now enjoy a sparkling new luster. That impression was confirmed by members of IFT's Exhibit Advisory Committee (EAC), who traveled to New Orleans this past fall to check on the city's readiness for the IFT show.
"I was gratified and thrilled to find that the city was every bit as vibrant and full of life as I remembered it was on my many past visits," said Sharrann Simmons, EAC member and Senior Marketing Manger, Cognis Nutrition & Health.
"The city is very impressive - cleaner and more inviting than I anticipated," stated EAC member Nancy Richerson, Tradeshows & Events Manager, Wild Flavors Inc. "The enormous amount of renovation within New Orleans has made a huge difference."
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Most of the city's hotels have been remodeled; the tally for hotel renovations over the past two years is in excess of $400 million. Overall, 209 metropolitan area accommodations are open, with 32,000 of an eventual total of 38,000 hotel rooms available. New hotel developments include the opening of the Hilton St. Charles Hotel in 2007 and Harrah's Hotel in 2006. At the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, a $60 million facelift includes new flooring and furnishings, hotel-like finishes, and a brighter, more engaging ambiance.
New Orleans has hosted an IFT exposition eight times since 1940. In the aftermath of Katrina, there was some discussion about whether the city would be ready and able to support the 2008 event, said Heidi Voorhees, IFT Vice President of Strategic Initiatives. After visiting New Orleans several times and meeting with city officials there, it was clear that plans could move forward.
"We have a long history of successful events in New Orleans, and we look forward to a continuation of that success," Voorhees said.
"I think New Orleans always has been and always will be a great convention destination," Simmons reflected. "And I think today, even more importantly, there's almost an obligation for Americans to visit New Orleans and to keep the economy going as it always has been."
Here's a look at some of the activities, programs, and educational opportunities slated for The Annual Meeting & Food Expo.
Early Learning Opportunities
The educational options begin even before the official start of the Annual Meeting & Food Expo with a series of eight Short Courses held Friday, June 27, and Saturday, June 28, at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. Taught by experts, these interactive courses are designed to deliver in-depth, practical information with only a modest time investment.
Topics of this year's courses include: "Concept to Commercialization - Blending Culinary Arts & Food Science," "Food Safety for the Non-Food Scientist," "Food Science for the Non-Food Scientist," "Ingredient Applications for Product Innovation and Consumer Health," "Labeling Requirements and Implications for Foods Marketed in the U.S.," "Managing and Communicating Food-Related Crisis Situations," "Microencapsulation in Food Applications," and "Sensory and Consumer Research in Food Product Development."
The courses require registration fees in addition to the Annual Meeting registration. Details and registration information are available at www.ift.org/IFT08.
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The atmosphere will be celebratory at the Awards Celebration Saturday evening, June 28, at the convention center. The event will honor the 13 IFT Achievement Award laureates and 23 newly elected Fellows for their contributions to the field of food science and technology.
At the event, IFT President John Floros will recap IFT's year and present a preview of what's ahead in his State-of-the-Institute address. He also will introduce incoming IFT President Sheri Schellhaass and President-Elect Marianne Gillette, both of whom will take office in September.
The session will be followed by a Networking Reception, where attendees can meet and congratulate the evening's honorees, as well as network with friends and colleagues.
On Sunday morning, June 29, innovation expert Tom Kelley will help get the creative juices flowing with his keynote session address. Kelley is a best-selling author and the General Manager of IDEO, a design and development firm that designed such cutting-edge products as the Apple mouse and the Palm V. Kelley will share both big-picture insights and specific concepts that can be used to foster innovation within an organization. The Keynote Session is sponsored by www.HFCSFacts.com.
The winners of IFT's Food Expo Innovation Awards competition will be announced at the keynote session.
Stay on Track with the Scientific Program
The Scientific Program Sunday - Tuesday will serve up a wealth of timely and relevant information. Nearly 200 educational sessions and more than 1,400 presentations, each led by experts in their respective fields, are planned. It will be a chance to learn about the very latest research and its applications in food science, discover new products and technologies, and share ideas with colleagues.
All symposia, workshops, panel discussions, and roundtables have been grouped within one of the following tracks: Science Fundamentals, Applied Science, New Products and Technologies, Student Programming, and Professional and Business Development.
The New Products and Technologies Program is among the highlights of the Annual Meeting's scientific and educational programming thanks to its focus on recently commercialized technologies. It includes three sessions and 22 presentations. The first session on Sunday afternoon focuses on ingredients. The next is on Monday morning, June 30, and covers analytical methods. The third session is a Table Top Showcase on the expo floor on Monday afternoon.
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Theme General Session
On Monday morning, industry experts will focus on the timely theme, "Environmental Sustainability and the Supply Chain." Speakers from Barry Callebaut, General Mills, Blu Skye Sustainability, and McDonough Braungart Design will participate in the discussion of sustainability.
The sustainability General Session is sponsored by Cognis Nutrition & Health, a featured sponsor of the 2008 IFT Annual Meeting theme and educational programming related to selected theme components.
Tuesday Trend Panel
On Tuesday morning, July 1, Food Technology Contributing Editor and leading trend tracker A. Elizabeth Sloan will lead a discussion under the banner, "Developing Products for Green, Gray, and Growing Consumers." This session, the Food Technology Presents Trend Panel, is positioned to deliver new insights into key consumer behavior drivers, health and nutrition concepts, and the "greening" of the food industry. The Trend Panel presentation is sponsored by DSM.
Town Hall Meeting
All members are invited to IFT's annual Town Hall meeting on Tuesday afternoon. It's an opportunity to hear updates on current and future IFT initiatives, ask questions, and connect with members from around the globe.
At the Expo
The halls of New Orleans Morial Convention Center will be a hub of activity during Food Expo hours from 11 a.m until 5:30 p.m. Sunday - Tuesday. As always, comfortable shoes are a must because Food Expo booths and events will occupy 220,000 sq ft of space. Here's a peek at some of what's planned.
At 11:30 a.m. daily, presenter Maria Caranfa will zero in on the role that fresh claims and organic and natural products are playing in foodservice menus in a presentation titled "The Fresh Factor."
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New product experts Lynn Dornblaser and David Jago will be center stage for three pavilion presentations daily, each of which will conclude with product sampling. The times and topics are as follows: 12:30 p.m. - "Ingredient Sustainability;" 2:30 p.m. - "Inherent Goodness of Ingredients;" and 4:30 pm. - "Formulating Healthy Food for Kids."
This year's theme, "The Sustainable Plate: From Farm to Table," will provide each team with the chance to convey the challenges and opportunities associated with creating a wholly sustainable meal option. Each day, a different team will present its take on food development - from ideation to finished product.
Student Association Activities
Many of today's food science students have already begun to help shape the future of IFT, and the Annual Meeting & Food Expo will serve up a full plate of activities for students. This year, in addition to the IFT Student Association booth, a lounge area in the convention center has been designated specifically for students. Among the programs developed for student members will be a symposium on navigating informational resources and another on diversity and multinational teams. Career development sessions also are planned.
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Here's a preview of some of the other programs and events that are in store for students.
New Professionals Mixer
A social event, geared specifically to those who are new to the profession, is planned for Sunday evening. It will provide an opportunity for those who attend to socialize and network while enjoying the atmosphere and ambiance of New Orleans.
Employment Bureau and Career Fair
The 2008 IFT Employment Bureau at the Annual Meeting & Food Expo offers both job seekers and employers an easy and efficient way to meet and interview onsite. The Employment Bureau will be open Sunday - Tuesday. New this year is a Career Fair that will be held on Saturday afternoon in the Employment Bureau and will allow potential employers and professionals to meet informally.
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Food Science Outreach
All IFT members, especially Food Science Ambassadors, are invited to take part in a Food Science Outreach Workshop on Monday morning. The workshop will provide guidance on using food to teach science. Participants will practice quick and easy experiments from IFT's "Food Science Activity Guide."
More to Follow
Our look ahead at the Annual Meeting & Food Expo continues in the following pages, where Food Technology editors preview selected technical sessions, papers, and exhibits.
A full list of Food Expo exhibitors and their booth numbers, plus the Scientific Program as of press time, follows the editors' previews. In addition, the complete Scientific Program, abstracts, and exhibitor descriptions are available in searchable form online at www.ift.org/IFT08.
It's all part of our goal of setting the stage for you to experience a productive, sustaining, and revitalizing visit to New Orleans for IFT's 2008 Annual Meeting & Food Expo. We hope to see you there!Mary Ellen Kuhn is Managing Editor of Food Technology magazine ( [email protected] .)
Altaf H. Carim, Program Manager, Nano-scale Science and Electron Scattering Centers, U.S. Dept. of Energy, will deliver the keynote address on the topic, "Prospects and Tools for Nanoscience: Applications, Characterization, and User Facilities."
The conference also will feature technical presentations and discussions of key topic areas - from regulatory issues to potential societal concerns, as well as a luncheon address by Robert J. Nicolosi, Professor of Nutritional Sciences and Director, Center for Health Disease & Research, Division of Nano-Medicine at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.
Conference sponsors are Advanced Foods & Materials Network and Holland’s Agency for International Business and Cooperation.
--- PAGE BREAK ---Field Trips Offer an Insider's View
You can sign up to volunteer or make a contribution when you register for the Annual Meeting & Food Expo. It's not too late to help, however, even if you have already registered. Simply log back on to the Web site and select "Purchase Tickets Only" or email [email protected] for more information. Volunteer slots are available on Saturday morning or afternoon or Wednesday morning.
Potential volunteer activities include:
Cash contributions also will be accepted at Second Harvest donation stations set up in the registration area of the Annual Meeting & Food Expo and at the Networking Reception.
The need is great. A 2007 U.S. Census Bureau survey calculated the Louisiana poverty rate at 19.2%, with more than half (54%) of this population residing in the area served by Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana. One of every four persons living in poverty in this area is a child.
"In addition to the already unprecedented need for assistance in the hurricane-affected regions of Louisiana, a spike in need has recently occurred as federally sponsored disaster relief locations and shelters have closed and brought another wave of evacuees back to their home areas of the state," said Natalie Jayroe, President and CEO of the local Second Harvest food bank.
"To serve this population of clients, the food bank needs to maintain a monthly distribution rate of between 3 and 4 million pounds of product over the next five years, serving at least 50,000 people a month," she added.
--- PAGE BREAK ---Biotechnology Division Marks 25th Anniversary
Thus, at the 2008 IFT Annual Meeting, a special symposium will be held on Monday afternoon to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Biotechnology Division. At this symposium, an overview of the history, evolution, and future of food biotechnology will be presented by Dallas Hoover, one of the division's founding members. This will be followed by the Divisional Lecture delivered by Roger Beachy, a leading authority in the field of biotechnology. Since the introduction of genetically modified (GM) food crops in 1995, more than a billion total acres of GM soybeans, maize, cotton, canola, papaya, and squash have been harvested and consumed. It is estimated that more than a trillion meals containing GM products have been eaten, all with a remarkable history of safety.
Beachy's presentation will discuss examples of new GM crops being developed, and challenges for adoption of food crops with enhanced nutrition, drought tolerance, and disease resistance.
Beachy is the founding President of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and is responsible for setting its scientific mission. He is recognized for his work in molecular virology, gene expression, and, in particular, for development of transgenic plants that are resistant to virus infection and of a chemical gene-switching system for use in plants.
Roger Beachy will share his expertise at the Biotechnology Division symposium.
If you'd like to run - or walk a mile - for this worthwhile cause, the advance registration fee is $15 for students, $25 for all others. On-site registration is $30. Pledge forms are available, too. For more information, contact Elizabeth Plummer at [email protected].
Participants in last year's Fun Run raised more than $45,000 for the IFT Foundation's Scholarship Fund.