The 2012 IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo® in Las Vegas will highlight the latest in food science and technology. This year’s Keynote Session brings a unique perspective on innovation, talent, and the global reach of the profession through our Keynote speaker, Starbucks Chairman, President, and CEO Howard Schultz.

His personal story is unique, and Starbucks reflects his entrepreneurial vision. Schultz built the world’s largest coffeehouse company that now has more than 145,000 employees and 17,000 stores in 58 countries. It is still growing. In 2011 Starbucks reported record revenue and record profit.

Schultz defines innovation as creating disruptive events that have value. A recent example under his leadership was the introduction of VIA®, Starbucks’ instant coffee brand, which he expects to be a billion-dollar business for the company in the next few years. Schultz said he would not have brought the product to market without the innovation needed to make a cup of instant coffee taste like it was brewed at Starbucks.

There is an important lesson to be learned from Schultz and the Starbucks success story when it comes to meeting market needs. In a time of significant changes in consumer behavior, the need for constant innovation has never been greater than it is today. He said companies have to first be curious, next anticipate what others do not see, and then have the courage to take action.

While the Starbucks story is unique, it is part of an emerging business philosophy that is reflected in the book Blue Ocean Strategy. The book poses an interesting challenge: Why compete with rivals when you can make them irrelevant? The authors, W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, focus on the strategy of creating new demand in new market space to meet the needs of a constantly changing, global consumer marketplace. The authors make the case that otherwise companies will be destined to battle head-to-head with competitors for known customers in an existing industry.

The Blue Ocean Strategy philosophy is reflected at the IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo, where every booth showcases new innovations from throughout the food industry. Talented individuals could not have made these innovations possible without the science that we find in the Scientific Program. There are several symposiums and poster sessions on innovation such as “Food Industry Innovation for Health,” the Late Breaking Session “Stimulating Sodium Reduction Innovations & Overcoming Technological Challenges,” and “Yellow Pea: An Emerging Sustainable Legume for Nutritional and Functional Food Innovation.”

It is our responsibility to foster innovation in the food science profession. We can do this by recruiting and educating the next generation of innovators. By focusing on filling the job pipeline with the brightest, most creative young minds, we will be able to take on the global challenges ahead of us—from food safety to nutrition to food insecurity.

As a nonprofit scientific society of food professionals, IFT’s most important mission is to ensure a safe, nutritious, and abundant global food supply. That mission will become even more challenging in the future as the world’s population surges to nine billion by 2050. Nearly all of that increase will occur in China, India, and Brazil. Meeting that demand will require innovation on a global scale. Scientific innovation must be accelerated and applied in both the developed and developing world. We must find ways to reduce the 30% to 50% of the world’s food that is wasted, thrown out, or lost to insects and spoilage. To curb the waste, we will need to develop better packaging and create shipping methods close to food production sites in less-developed regions of the world. We must invest in reducing post-harvest losses, particularly in developing countries.

Advances in all areas of scientific endeavor will be necessary to meet this future food challenge. Integration of scientific knowledge is paramount. It will take all of us: food scientists, biologists, physicists, chemists, nutritionists, clinicians, computer scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and food companies, and it will take organizations like IFT to lead the way.

This month in Las Vegas at the Annual Meeting & Food Expo, IFT will bring together thousands of the top people and companies in the food profession. They will learn, connect, exchange ideas, and form collaborations. I hope you will join us and take part in shaping the future in an ocean of opportunities.


Roger Clemens, Dr.P.H.,
IFT President, 2011–2012
Chief Scientific Officer, Horn Company, La Mirada, Calif.
[email protected]