"We are living in a new era of hyper-competition," said Todd Buchholz, former White House economic policy director, trend forecaster, author and presenter at last week's Worldwide Food Expo. During his presentation, "Competing and Succeeding in a Global Economy," he pointed out that the speed and open competition of the current economy has caused concerns. Buchholz said most change is being driven by what he calls the "Scissors Economy." As both companies and consumers seek a direct route to suppliers in order to cut costs, it's the middle man who is being cut out of many transactions. Although Buchholz said the export market is now stronger than it has been in his lifetime, the building blocks of the world economy have been turned around. Instantaneous change or the "here today, gone today" mentality is here to stay. Innovation, branding, service, cost control and new markets will be the keys to success. Wall Street will look for companies that build trusted brands and alliances and have a particular customer focus. Competition from China and India will be a challenge, as will the repercussions from ethanol substitutes for oil. As Hispanic-American buying power expands and aging baby boomers remain active, demographics will greatly influence the marketplace. Complete solutions -- from concept through the life of the service or product will be essential. "In this maelstrom, in this perfect storm, with increasing energy prices, global warming concerns and terrorism, lies an opportunity for prosperity and innovation," he concluded. "This is your chance to create a better life for your family and community."