My first couple of days at the Institute of Food Technology convention (IFT11) have been great, if a little overwhelming! Over 9,000 attendees, 900 exhibiting companies – hard to know where to begin.
I will give a bit of a ‘grab bag’ of impressions and ideas:
- sustainability is a major theme and concern of the food industry. What exactly does it mean? It does seem to be a mix of issues including environmental concerns, public health, employee welfare and charitable works. These things have been part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) for some years. Listening to the likes of McDonald’s,
Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola the sustainability drive is now about pushing suppliers to adopt their CSR policies.
- A big presence of Chinese chemical and ingredient companies at the expo. While some of their marketing pitches are unsophisticated, their determination and pricing is compelling!
- No identifiable Australian presence at the conference or expo. Apart from a few expats doing great things over here – special thanks to Wayne Howard and the team at BASF for their hospitality!
- Whole grains and their health benefits seem to have a higher recognition here than in Australia. Even corn producers are getting in on the act with ‘ whole corn’ formulation ideas being demonstrated.
- There is a debate raging between corn producers and others about the health benefits of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), with some products now sporting ‘HFCS-free’ claims.
More thoughts from New Orleans tomorrow. Follow my tweets on @frankehyland