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Dairy processors will get a first-hand look at the new ingredients and flavors for dairy foods at the IFT 12 Annual Meeting + Food Expo running June 25 to 28 in Las Vegas. Billed as the largest annual food science forum and exposition in the world, it offers attendees and exhibitors the chance to discover the latest consumer trends, learn about cutting-edge food science developments and applications, and experience new products and technologies.

The three-day convention is packed with educational seminars geared toward providing attendees with valuable insights in virtually every area and at every level of expertise. More than 100 education sessions and 1,200 poster presentations, each led by experts in their respective fields, will address hot topics in the industry, such as food safety, product development, food health and nutrition, environmental sustainability, and novel processing and packaging. (For a partial list the sessions that focus specifically on dairy foods and processing, see “Must-see Symposia and Posters” on page 74.)

The awards celebration, honoring recipients of the prestigious IFT Achievement Awards and newly elected IFT Fellows, will be held on Monday at 5:30 p.m. This is an opportunity to congratulate colleagues for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the field of food science and technology, as well as learn about some of the major advances being made in the field. Immediately following is a networking reception where attendees can mix and mingle with old friends and meet new ones while enjoying the diverse cuisine and unique entertainment of Las Vegas.

The keynote session is June 26 from 8:30 to 10:15 a.m. IFT leaders will share what’s new at IFT, followed by Howard Schultz, president, CEO and chairman of Starbucks, who will speak on “The Importance of Innovation.” Schultz, who was named Fortune magazine’s 2011 Businessperson of the Year, has taken an active role in focusing public discussion on the importance of job creation to spur growth in the economy through a partnership between Starbucks and Opportunity Finance Network and the Create Jobs for the USA initiative. He will share insights on the importance of scientific innovation in creating thriving companies and communities, and filling the talent pipeline.

Also speaking on Tuesday is 2012 Beacon Lecturer Mehmood Khan, M.D., who serves as the CEO of Global Nutrition Group as well as the chief scientific officer of PepsiCo. Titled “PepsiCo: Leveraging a Legacy of Taste to Lead Global Food and Beverage Innovation,” Dr. Khan will speak about the resources and expertise a global food and beverage business can leverage in order to enable access to safe, delicious and affordable nutrition worldwide. He will share how he leverages his unique experience and perspective as a medical doctor to meet the challenges of accelerating innovation across the company and around the world.


The scientific program

This year’s scientific program is organized around the key focus areas in the industry, and is based on the core sciences that create the foundation of the food science discipline. This track structure focuses on the topics of greatest importance to food professionals. It also makes it easier for dairy professionals to find the sessions most relevant to their interests.

The program involves experts from private and public companies (both manufacturers and suppliers), government agencies and research institutions. Topics range from new health and safety benefits and product innovations to the latest consumer favorites, fears and trends.

The key focus area program tracks are Food Safety & Defense; Food, Health & Nutrition; Food Processing & Packaging; Product Development & Ingredient Innovations; Sustainability; Public Policy, Food Laws & Regulations; and Education and Professional Development. The core science program tracks include: Food Chemistry; Food Microbiology; Food Engineering and Sensory Science.

Make sure to stop by the IFT Community Live: Division Connection on June 27 from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. to meet others in dairy foods processing, learn about what IFT communities have to offer, and identify ways to get involved with IFT.


Walking through the expo

With high-caliber award-winning chefs and master sommeliers, Las Vegas continues to build upon its reputation as a vibrant showcase for extraordinary dining. The city offers many gourmet restaurants for an evening on the town. But, by day, don’t forget to scout the show floor to see and taste all that the ingredient exhibitors are sharing, as well as the latest from every one of the 1,001 exhibiting companies.

This year’s Special Events Pavilion features presentations spanning everything from product development to industry trends. In “Trends + Innovation + New Technologies: Bringing it All Together” on June 26, Innova Market Insights and Food Valley come together to show how consumer demands for healthy products, new convenience solutions and sustainability are driving innovation and the development of new technologies. This presentation will highlight the most important global trends driving new product development in the food and beverage industry today and some new technologies being brought to the market by a highly innovative group of companies with the support of a sophisticated innovation network.

Following the shifts in how “healthy” is marketed to consumers, a Mintel presentation on June 28 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. will explore how products with “low-in” claims drop and those with some types of fortification and those with a focus on “natural” formulations continue to grow. It will look at product activity and consumer preferences regarding “healthy” foods.

Similarly, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy will present new research about insights into the growing consumer movement toward real, fresh and natural foods on June 28 at noon. Attendees will learn about the consumer segments driving this trend, their attitudes and motivations, what product, packaging and placement cues work for this audience, and how dairy and dairy ingredients can help deliver what they’re looking for.

Consider taking a Trend & Solution Tour if you’d like to find those companies that offer products or services related to some of the most significant issues and trends facing the food industry. The self-guided tours will conveniently connect you with innovative companies on the expo floor. This year’s tour topics include: Emerging Flavors and Colors, The Evolution of Sodium Reduction, Food Safety Solutions, Ingredients for a Better You, and Rediscovering Texture – Snap, Crackle & Pop.

To finish off the week, join IFT colleagues and friends when they volunteer at the Three Square Food Bank on Friday morning, June 29. Participants will sort unmarketable (yet safe) surplus grocery items and repack donated food product into cases to be distributed to member agencies and the needy families they serve. If interested, be sure to register for this IFT Cares opportunity. Space is limited to 75 people.  N


Expo Hours

  • Tuesday, June 26. Noon to 5 p.m.
  • Wednesday, June 27. 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 28. 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


Must-see Symposia and Posters

Session 5 — An Inside Look at the American Farm and How Sustainable Practices Impact the Food Industry (Sunrise Session); Tuesday, 7:15 a.m. to 8:15 a.m.

Session 116 — Nonthermal Technologies in Dairy Foods and Beverages: High Pressure Homogenization; Wednesday, 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Session 178 — Emerging New Dairy Ingredient Applications; Wednesday, 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

161 — Dairy Foods Division: Sensory Science Posters (Poster); Wednesday, 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

192 — Dairy Foods Division: Food Chemistry Posters (Poster); Wednesday, 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Session 264 — Safety, Quality, and the Future of Raw Milk Cheese in the United States; Thursday, 1:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.


Travel and Hotel Info

The 2012 IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. LVH-Las Vegas Hotel and Casino is the headquarters hotel. Special rates are available in select hotels through the IFT Housing Bureau. Hotels will not accept reservations directly. Reservations must be made by Monday, May 21, 2012, to receive special rates. Visit www.am-fe.ift.org and click on the Hotel & Travel tab for more complete details, including travel options in and around the convention.