The American Dietetic Association’s (www.eatright.org) annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (Oct. 25-28, Chicago) had something a lot of recent food shows have been lacking: improvements. Where many shows are turning into shadows of former selves, the ADA show was tighter, better organized and more useful than it’s been in years. Of interest to processors would be the leap ingredient companies have made into the ADA pool.
Last year, we wrote of a few ingredient manufacturers who stuck their toes into the not-so-strange-after-all waters patrolled by thousands of registered dietitians and other dietetic professionals. The payoff must have been rich. This year saw National Starch Food Innovation, DSM Nutritionals, Bunge, Sambazon, Ocean Nutrition, Earthwise Nutritionals, Cargill, Ajinomoto, Carmi Flavors, Hilmar Ingredients, International Fiber Corp. and other ingredient providers as exhibitors, not to mention dozens of grain, oil and sweetener companies.
Why the big interest? Do dietitians purchase ingredients? Well, yes they do. It’s way past time the role of RDs in fields other than client care was noticed. Not only are major companies such as Kraft and General Mills making extensive use of RDs, so, too are a growing number of small- and medium-sized companies. With the health movement in its third decade of continuing double-digit growth, smart outfits are hiring dietitians to oversee the inclusion of health components to the product line — and thus growth to the bottom line.
One more thing is at work here: Ingredient companies are recognizing the role dietitians play in marketing ingredients. This means processors have another line of communication for the latest in nutrition developments. Through a vast and diverse education and communication network, dietitians are instrumental in helping drive demand for hot ingredients and the products that use them.