IFT Bets on Las Vegas
by Sarah Theodore
The Institute of Food Technologists will hold its Annual Meeting and Food Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, July 12-16. As the largest annual food technology expo in the world, the gathering is expected draw 20,000 food scientists, technologists, suppliers and marketers. No less than 1,000 experts will be on hand to lead more than 100 technical sessions during the show.
The convention will open with a keynote address from Joel A. Baker, independent scholar and futurist. Baker has been dubbed "The Paradigm Man" for popularizing the concept of paradigm shifts to explain profound change and the vision that drives change within organizations. His new book titled "Five Regions of the Future" explores clusters of technologies, which he calls Technecologies because they arrange themselves into technology ecosystems, and the role they will play in the long-term future of the planet. The book is expected to be released in January 2005.
Hot Topics of this year’s IFT show center around the idea of "Keeping the Food Industry Competitive". "Expanding Margins, Not Waistlines" will be covered July 13, with a special focus on today’s most serious public health issue, the increasing number of overweight and obese people. Rather than let the industry be tagged as a source of the problem, IFT plans to discuss some of the ways the food industry can help create solutions and pursue the topic from a business perspective. The session will examine the issue from Wall Street’s perspective as well as the consumer and marketplace standpoint, and will include case studies on weight management products already on the market.
The Hot Topic session slated for July 14 is titled "Changing the Odds" and will examine the ways in which the food industry is evolving and the factors that are affecting the competitive landscape. The panel discussion will look at the product trends that are driving innovation, and the cost and impact of new technologies.
While not directly related to beverages, the Hot Topic presentation "When Mad Cow Comes Home" will be of interest to many in the industry. Speakers will discuss the science and background of Mad Cow Disease as well as ideas for protecting the public and export markets.
Hitting the Floor
The IFT show will feature 800 exhibitors in 250,000 square feet of exhibition space. In conjunction with the Research Chefs Association, IFT will present the New Product Development Pavilion, a unique, interactive effort that will showcase the concepts of food science and culinology, a new term describing the juxtaposition of culinary art and science. Chefs from the retail, quick-service and full-service restaurant segments will work with food technologists to create culinary dishes using popular, trend-setting ingredients.
Culinary development teams will feature new items daily, and each presentation will include the formulation and an interactive discussion of the development steps, its target consumer and the category of product. The products will be reviewed for overall innovation, requirements for large-scale production and distribution, conditions for ensuring food safety, nutritional benefits and the likelihood of commercial acceptance.
Also on the new product front, the show will feature IFT/Mintel Global New Product Trends & Tasting Presentations. The special exhibit stage will include more than 50 new products from Asia, Europe and the Americas in the categories of Health & Wellness Ingredient Trends, Ethnic Flavor Trends and Convenience & Packaging Trends.
The show’s wide range of educational sessions will begin before the show even starts, with a special series of two-day pre-show programs, and will carry through to more than 100 sessions during the convention. Sunday and Monday, July 11 and 12 will include intensive pre-show sessions on Nutrition and Weight Management; Lipid Oxidation and Antioxidants; the Latest Ideas for Measurements for Sensory and Consumer Testing; Evolving Product Development: Activities Beyond the Bench; Process Control for the Food Industry; and Becoming Part of the Strategic Business Team. One-day programs on July 11 include Winning Direct Marketing Campaigns; and Liability and Foodborne Illness: Understand-ing the Law Can Protect Your Business.
A number of special field trips round out the educational opportunities at the IFT show in Las Vegas. The field trips include visits to the National Vitamin Co., which produces private label vitamins for drug, grocery and health food retailers. The company manufactures vitamins, herbals, botanicals, minerals, protein supplements, dietary supplements and cosmetic hair and body products.
Another field trip will take attendees on a quality assurance and food sanitation tour of Caesars Entertainment Inc. The company is one of the world's leading gaming companies and owns 29 properties in five countries. Its Las Vegas properties include Bally’s, Caesars Palace, Flamingo, Paris and the Las Vegas Hilton which, combined, operate more than 60 restaurants, cafes and food and beverage outlets. The tour will focus on quality assurance and sanitation practices in wholesale and retail food operations.
The final trip will be a visit to Ethel M Chocolates and Botanical Cactus Gardens. The tour of the facility will take participants through every step of the creation process of the premium chocolates. The Botanical Cactus Garden is an arid landscape with more than 350 species of cactus, succulents and desert plants.
The pre-show technical programs and the field trips are not included in the general attendance fee for the show. For more information or to register for the show, call the Institute of Food Technologists at 800/438-3663 or log on to ift.org.