Early in my career, I undertook my first overseas business assignment to the Netherlands, and I recall that the world seemed like such a large place. But in the 30 years of crisscrossing the globe during many business trips, from Europe to South America and Asia, it began to seem that the world had magically shrunk.
In those early years, it often took six months for new scientific learning or issues to travel from the originating country, usually the United States, to another country, typically the United Kingdom or another English-speaking country. Today, in the e-connected world, with English becoming the global scientific language, issues move instantaneously. It was therefore timely that four years ago the IFT Board of Directors approved recommendations from the Global Strategy Advisory Panel on what, where, and how to respond to our global members’ needs.
The “what” focused on food safety, food security, and food health and wellness. The “where” included Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and South Africa, and the “how” was primarily through partnerships. Within those recommendations, the panel acknowledged IFT’s role within the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) and encouraged building on bilateral cooperation with academic, government, and industry member organizations. The report also cited the important contributions of IFT members and the opportunity to foster the development of initiatives of mutual interest to both organizations.
Last year, I visited the Bor Luh Center in Shanghai, China, for a symposium on novel food processing co-organized by IFT’s Fruit & Vegetable Division and Jiao Tong University. I spoke about the incredible changes I’ve seen in China since my first trip 20 years ago, none more so than the explosion occurring in food science. Chinese expatriates, who have long been influential in the United States, are now returning to teach and work in China.
Building on our partnership with the Chinese Institute of Food Science & Technology (CIFST), we continued our publishing agreement and biennial summit, which is slated for Oct. 30 to Nov. 1, 2013, in Nanjing, China. For more than a decade, IFT and CIFST have worked together to build bridges between food scientists and government officials in the United States, China, and around the world.
This month I am traveling to India to meet with leaders of food science and technology in a country with the world’s second-largest population. As with China, Indian food scientists are prominent in the United States and around the world, but with one-fifth of its GDP in food and agriculture, India is seeing a tremendous growth in the need for food science and technology. Stay tuned for more in the coming months on the opportunity for IFT and our members here.
As we seek to reenergize our activities in Mexico, we have keynoted at several major conferences and expos in the last few months. IFT Past Presidents Roger Clemens and Bob Gravani met with leaders from academic and research institutions; I met with industry and government leaders. We are currently discussing several potential partnership opportunities in areas of mutual interest.
Brazil is another country whose growth I have been tracking during multiple visits over the past 30 years. IFT President-Elect Janet Collins and I will be attending separate meetings in Brazil this year. We are finalizing an agreement with SENAI, a Brazilian Federal Food Technology Institute. IFT has completed a comprehensive analysis and validation of their platforms and products, and we are in the process of developing and implementing an optional international module as a supplement for SENAI’s MBA program.
We are continuing our publishing collaboration with the South African Association for Food Science and Technology. SAAFoST is expanding its reach across sub-Saharan Africa and will publish one article from Food Technology magazine in each quarterly edition of its magazine, South African Food Science and Technology. This is also an opportunity for us to create greater awareness of our other important efforts including our Annual Meeting & Food Expo, our webcasts and eLearning opportunities, and our World Without Food Science initiatives.
The global role of IFT derived directly from your wishes and ideas. Please continue to stay engaged and help drive this strategy. Our IFT Student Association members have been particularly active, and recently we announced the formation of an IFT student chapter in British Colombia. I certainly foresee more student chapters as food science programs grow around the world.
As the level of international trade has increased so have the number of IFT’s global partnerships. Globalization will continue to make these relationships even more important as we look to solve the world’s food supply problems through innovation and sharing scientific knowledge.
IFT President, 2012–2013