Mary Christ-Erwin

It’s that time again. It is time to say goodbye to another year and look forward to the possibilities and opportunities that await us in 2012. This forward march is critical for any organization, and IFT’s many active members are keenly aware of what the organization’s role can be in driving solutions in food, medicine, and health, using current and emerging food science and technologies. Whether those solutions are in the area of foods for the management of health, evidence-based review, sustainability, safety, or the application of consumer technology and social media on food and nutrition education globally, IFT is unequivocally in the game and is looking forward to becoming an even more visible and impactful player.

Before looking forward, however, it’s important to pay past accomplishments their due. Our organization enjoyed a productive and exciting 2011, with new staff, new structures and procedures, continued success in both the Wellness Conference and the Annual Meeting and Food Expo®, and a leadership team ever-committed to IFT excellence, progress, and visibility for both the oganization’s and membership’s contribution to the world’s food supply, health, and wellness.

As 2011 winds down, IFT leadership and membership are looking ahead to designing the most effective strategies for building upon existing strengths and addressing the gaps, both of which will propel the organization forward and galvanize excitement. While there are multiple effective approaches to building a strategic framework, IFT has the tools and the talent to achieve the focus it needs to continue to build its core equity, making that understood and appreciated by the other organizations and constituencies striving to create solutions for a healthier world. The IFT team is poised to address the known challenges—as well as the curves in the road—that require food science solutions.

First and foremost, IFT is ever-mindful of its mission to advance the science of food, and rigorously aspires to its long-range vision of ensuring a safe and abundant food supply contributing to healthier people everywhere. Before any organization can evolve and grow effectively, it must—with razor-sharp clarity—organize itself to communicate its brand value, determining what it will take to strengthen that brand to enable it to work effectively and with measureable impact on the challenges and the opportunities facing it. IFT has long recognized this and is well along that road, having advanced the discipline of food science and technology to create the food solutions desired by consumers and stakeholders worldwide.

Most importantly, while IFT understands its role in creating food solutions, it also recognizes that it cannot do so in isolation. Partnerships and alliances are critical globally. It is those opportunities for sharing ideas, with scientific minds working in collaboration to look at food challenges from multiple angles, that will result in the most impactful ideas. Whether IFT’s approach is driving cross-division thinking and cooperation or bringing in outside experts for consultation or creating subgroups like the Food and Nutrition Sciences Solutions Task Force, IFT has been in the forefront of recognizing the advantages inherent in facilitated collective thinking.

IFT opportunities for global impact in ensuring a safe and abundant food supply are clear, but so are its challenges. With food processing under fire, it is imperative that the benefits and the significant contributions of food processing be vigorously demonstrated and communicated to both stakeholders and consumers. Food processing is at the core of our organization; it is the expertise of our members. It is a fundamental reason our food supply is abundant and safe. Addressing the current backlash against food science and technology must be a priority. After all, how did it happen that science and technology are seen as enhancement to our lives in communication, transportation, safety, and personal efficiency and organization, but when it comes to food, the word “technology” becomes suspect? If IFT is to reach its full potential in contributing to food solutions globally, this significant roadblock must be overcome.

IFT’s voice is needed now more than ever. IFT’s seat at the table of science and policy must not only be clear, it must be actively desired and sought. Science and scientific solutions emerging from IFT and its members must be a cornerstone of the world’s search for the best solutions to feed the world and contribute to the health of consumers globally.

IFT welcomes 2012 with open arms, open minds, and extraordinary talent. Cheers!


Mary Christ-Erwin,
Contributing Editor
Partner & Global Director Food, Beverage & Nutrition, Porter Novelli Public Services Washington, D.C. 
([email protected])