The previous time the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) held its annual meeting and food expo in New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina tore through the area one month later. One of the most interesting facets of this year’s show will be simply seeing how that charming city has fared since then.
New Orleans is not back to its pre-Katrina form and may never be. But three years is a long time, and the tourist areas of New Orleans – both the Ernest Morial Convention Center and the nearby French Quarter – probably will look no different to the 22,000 food industry professionals from around the globe who are expected for IFT 08.
The annual meeting and food expo will be June 28-July 1 at the Morial Convention Center. At least during the days, attendees – most of them in research, product development and associated scientific/technical positions -- will be concentrating on the latest developments in scientific research, technologies, new products and consumer trends. What they do on Bourbon Street after dark is their own business. However, there’s a full program, with many early morning activities, to keep them on reasonably good behavior.
Scientific Program Tracks
Pre-show activities start Friday, June 27, with day-long short courses and an evening International Food Nanoscience Conference. Saturday is devoted to association business: committee meetings, a career fair, the annual awards dinner and networking reception. The real conference program and expo start Sunday, June 29, with the keynote address at 9 a.m. Tom Kelley is a best-selling author (his most recent book is The Ten Faces of Innovation) and the general manager of Ideo, the design and development firm that designed such cutting-edge products as the Apple mouse and the Palm V. He’s expected to emphasize how everyone in an organization can contribute creatively to a project, and that innovation can be made a cultural way of life in an organization.
Immediately following the keynote, the expo begins. The show floor will be open 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Some 900 exhibitors – with a heavy emphasis on ingredients, but also representing equipment, services, software and other technologies -- will fill 200,000 sq. ft. of the Morial Convention Center. A special emphasis of this year’s programming will be how innovation can assist both business growth and environmental sustainability. There will be more than 50 sessions addressing that theme. Some are: - Sustainable Fermented Food and Beverage Practices - Assessing the Sustainability of Packages Designed for Food - Environmental and Sustainability Product Labeling
But there also are more traditional sessions found at an IFT show:
- Global Regulations on Nutraceutical and Functional Food Industries
- Probiotics, Prebiotics, & Synbiotics: Translating Research into Healthful and Appealing Products
- Colloidal and Nanoparticle Systems for Improving Food Quality
- Cold Plasma – An Emerging Technology for Food Processing
There will be daily Supplier Solution Sessions, in which vendors will talk in depth about their products, services or solutions, right on the expo floor. Some of this year’s planned sessions are on fiber ingredients, salt reduction/flavor enhancement, proteins (dairy, soy, grain, etc.), heart health, and weight management and satiety. Some of the specialty areas at the show and meeting include:
- Specialty pavilions (Healthy food ingredients, Organic ingredients, Food safety and quality, and International)
- Culinology demonstrations, where food science meets cuisine, cosponsored by the Research Chefs Assn.
- Global New Products, by Mintel
- Taste the Trend, by Innova
- Employment bureau – designed for both job seekers and employers
- Town Hall Meeting – All IFT members may participate in a forum about the association’s future.
There also are four technical field trips: to Motavit Seafoods, Chef John Folse & Co.’s manufacturing plant, Community Coffee Co.’s manufacturing facility and Kleinpeter Farms Dairy. All are first-come, first-served ticketed events with additional fees. Register at www.am-fe.ift.org.
Food and New Orleans seem to go together. As a result, that city has hosted several past IFT shows. In appreciation of those great experiences, and mindful of New Orleans’ continuing need for assistance, IFT has some special charitable events planned for this year’s Annual Meeting & Food Expo.