Attendees at IFT in New Orleans observe trends on healthful food ingredients,
sustainability and food safety.
The Institute of Food Technologist's (IFT) annual convention was held in New Orleans, June 29-July 1, drawing attendees from 80 countries. More than 200 technical sessions were held on product development, ingredient technology, food safety, processing, packaging, and micro and nanosciences. New this year were supplier sessions on salt reduction, fiber, proteins, weight management and trans fats, among others.
Keynote session speaker Tom Kelley, best-selling author and general manager of IDEO, the design and development firm that designed such cutting-edge products as the Apple mouse and the Palm V, opened events by suggesting ways to bring more creativity to the product development process. Try incorporating the roles of “anthropologist” and “experiential architect” into your organization. An anthropologist goes out into the field and finds “things hidden in plain sight,” i.e. identifies “latent customer needs,” Kelley explained. After an anthropologist helps a company identify consumer needs, it falls to the experiential architect to design the products to address those needs, Kelley continued.
IFT's general theme session entitled “Environmental Sustainability and the Supply Chain,” provided some interesting discussion. Sustainability is a process, not an end result, said Gene Kahn, global sustainability officer, General Mills. No individual product or company is fully sustainable, said Kahn, founder, Cascadian Farm Organic, which was acquired by General Mills. Rather, “sustainability is a continuum of improvement activities,” he observed. The moderator and panelists set the stage for the discussion by sharing some statistics, including the following:
Only 25 percent of what goes into the product development pipeline comes out as a product; the rest is waste, noted Diana Rothschild, Blu Skye Sustainability Consulting.
Every 10 lb. of food sold to a consumer results in 3 lb. of food waste and 3.5 lb. of packaging waste, said Kahn, citing USDA data.
18 percent of greenhouse gas production is associated with food processing, according to Kahn.
82 percent of total water consumption is related to the food system–primarily linked to agricultural production, according to Kahn.
More than 1,000 exhibitors filled New Orlean's convention center during the Expo, giving attendees ample opportunity to network with fellow colleagues and explore the latest in ingredient technology. Ingredients available for formulating more healthful products appeared predominant throughout the show floor. These ingredient categories included those contributing anitoxidant properties, such as superfruits; those that help reduce sodium or sugar levels; trans fat-free alternatives; naturally-derived ingredients; fiber-rich ingredients and functional-type ingredients for nutritional enhancement.