I have truly appreciated the opportunity and privilege to serve as the 2012–2013 IFT President. Over the past year, I’ve often found myself playing the role of ambassador, not only for IFT, but also for food science and technology. I know my successor will continue to do so, as have my predecessors. In fact, we all need to do our part.
Traveling across the United States and around the world, I’ve enjoyed representing you and the food science profession. It’s given me the opportunity to meet food professionals from around the globe, share the many accomplishments of IFT, and listen to your ideas.
In September, I traveled to our neighbor, Mexico, to be the keynote speaker at the Food Technology Summit and Expo. I was impressed with their passion for food science and struck by the similarity of the issues we face in various parts of the world. I made two trips to Brazil during my year as president: the first to participate in the IUFoST Congress at Iguassu and then to keynote at the ILSI Brasil annual meeting. In March, I was invited to be the keynote speaker and lead a panel discussion at the Nutra India conference. It is clear to me from my global journeys that IFT is viewed as a valued and critical partner in advancing food science and technology in these countries.
I also participated in a number of meetings dealing with the issue of world hunger. I attended a Global South Summit in Nashville, Tenn., last October, to develop an agenda with a broad range of stakeholders. This was followed by an excellent series of meetings with the World Food Prize Foundation in Des Moines, Iowa. In April, I attended FAO Food Security meetings with CGIAR, the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research, in Dublin and a parallel ILSI Research Foundation session on modeling food and water shortages. I took part in a panel discussion at the American Chemical Council in Colorado on the opportunities for the chemical industry to work with the food and agricultural sectors to feed the growing global population. Moving forward, IFT will seek to increase the role that food scientists and food technology play in global food security, an issue so critical for our future.
We face another growing challenge in ensuring the safety of our food supply as the supply chain becomes ever more complex. In response, IFT is creating a new, not-for-profit Global Food Traceability Center. This organization will have four integrated businesses: Research; Protocols and Standards; Education and Training; and Technology Transfer. It will engage public and private partnerships to improve industry and government food product tracing capabilities regarding illness outbreaks, recalls, and emergency management. It will also help to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of business processes.
Traceability from farm to fork enhances the safety and security of the food system by minimizing the impact and extent of food safety issues. The public good delivered by a system-wide approach to data collaboration and traceability has become clear. In addition, there are substantial proven commercial benefits such as more efficient supply chain management, improved quality and brand equity, and increased access to new markets. By creating a forum with international scope, IFT will lend its significant expertise and capabilities to strengthening agriculture and food sectors around the world.
In February, IFT held its sixth Annual Wellness Conference. More than 200 food professionals came to discuss best practices on successfully developing and marketing healthful foods. For the first time, we had a live stream of the first three hours of the meeting, which included our keynote speaker Michael W. Smith of WebMD and our teen panel with their enlightening consumer insights.
We held our sixth IFT International Food Nanoscience Conference in Chicago in advance of the 2013 IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo. More than 20,000 food professionals enjoyed more than 100 scientific sessions and a Food Expo with more than 2,300 booths. At the Opening General Session, we honored the inaugural class of Certified Food Scientists. I am one of more than 1,400 who have obtained the CFS credential.
IFT could not have made all of these accomplishments throughout the last year without the dedication of our IFT member volunteers and the hardworking IFT staff—thank you all very much! I have enjoyed serving you over the past year and will continue to support IFT in what I know is an exciting future.
John Ruff, CFS
IFT President, 2012–2013