At last month’s keynote session at the Annual Meeting & Food Expo, IFT unveiled a new way to tell the story of food science and technology through a unique video campaign called “A World Without Food Science.”
The overarching kick-off video theorized how our modern food retail landscape would be adversely impacted if food science did not exist. It illustrated what may happen in a grocery store without the existence of food science through a series of black-and-white images showing empty shelves, rotten fruit, insect-infested grain, spoiled meat, and extremely high-priced produce. Attendees at the keynote saw a stark contrast to what would be expected when visiting their local grocer. The video raised the important question: What would happen if there was no food science around?
After showing the possible outcomes without food science, the scene changed to color when the announcer explained how food science professionals make it possible to have food that is safe, flavorful, nutritious, and plentiful. To view the video, please visit www.worldwithoutfoodscience.org.
The campaign also includes five separate video segments that feature interviews with experts from various food science disciplines to show the positive impact of food science on consumers’ daily lives. The first two video segments of the series presented during the keynote address focused on two topics: 1) availability of foods, which explains how food science is responsible for providing abundant food to meet the growing population estimated to be 9 billion by 2050; and 2) food safety, which discusses the role of food science in ensuring food is safe to eat.
The startling concepts of the video are based on an IFT scientific review titled “Feeding the World Today and Tomorrow: The Importance of Food Science and Technology” published in the peer-reviewed journal, Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. This white paper highlights the history of food science, how the profession helped us achieve where we are today, and how it will help us tackle future challenges.
Why the need for the hard-hitting videos?
With the rapid pace of consumers’ lifestyles, many are far removed from the origins of their food and how it is made. As a result, they often take for granted that food will always be there—because it always has been. More importantly, consumers are unaware that food science and technology play a critical role in delivering safe and abundant food to their grocery store shelves, and ultimately to their kitchen table. Therefore, the local grocer serves as an excellent backdrop to showcase the broad reach of food science throughout every product category in the grocery store and the surreal experience of what happens if there was no food science.
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Secondly, food issues are very personal and there are many in the media, including book authors and TV show celebrities, who negatively characterize our food system. Despite the negative press, Edelman public relations revealed through their annual global survey known as the Edelman Trust Barometer, http://trust.edelman.com, that consumers still trust the food system overall. Based on the survey, the three industries that topped the most trusted list are technology, automotive, and food & beverage companies. In contrast, those on the bottom of the trust totem pole included the media, financial services, and banking in descending order.
To help counter this trend, the World Without Food Science campaign and expert interviews offer a unique visual program that will make key audiences sit up and take notice of the profession, important food issues, and how food science has responded with positive solutions on a global scale. A key audience for the pieces will be the media, the consuming public, and those considering the profession.
Going forward, three more videos in the World Without Food Science campaign will be released throughout the year. Topics include Nutrition, Environmentally Responsible Food Production, and Developing Food Products for Specific Populations. Each video will be distributed freely and featured along with facts and additional resources on www.worldwithoutfoodscience.org. The videos complement other multimedia materials that show the practical application of food science for consumers, such as food safety in the farmer’s market, how to store leftovers, and understanding label expiration dates. These videos feature several Food Science Communicators, who regularly conduct interviews with top media organizations. Please visit www.iftfoodfacts.org for more information.
With the rise in video usage on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and throughout the Internet, video is the communications vehicle of choice. IFT members can help take advantage of easy access to a variety of these communications channels to tell this story through social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or by encouraging everyone to make this a viral campaign that we all can participate in.
The World Without Food Science video series was made possible through funding support from the following IFT Divisions: Citrus Products, Food Microbiology, Nutraceuticals & Functional Foods, Product Development, Refrigerated and Frozen Foods, and Quality Assurance.
Jerry Bowman is Vice President,
Communications & Media Relations, IFT, Chicago, IL