The Worldwide Food Expo Has Arrived!

The year’s largest North American food industry event offers new technologies and ideas.
It’s almost time for the country’s largest exhibition of the latest in products and news for the food-processing industry. The Worldwide Food Expo takes place from October 26 to 29 at McCormick Place in Chicago, and it is expected to draw more than 30,000 attendees from around the world.
The WWFE, which comprises the International Meat, Poultry & Seafood Convention and Exposition and the Food, Dairy, and Beverage Exhibition, is sponsored by the American Meat Institute (AMI), the International Association of Food Industry Suppliers (IAFS), and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA).
The Expo covers a variety of food categories, including poultry, meat, prepared meals, snacks, frozen food, meat, seafood, and more. Exhibits will spotlight innovations in processing, packaging, ingredients, supplies, and services.
The show floor
More than 1,200 exhibitors will showcase their products and services on more than one million square feet of exhibit space. The show floor will feature special exhibits on sanitation, food safety, and packaging. Product development, as well as refrigeration and freezing have separate pavilions devoted to them. A new material handling and distribution pavilion will feature robotics, trucks, containers, and conveyor systems.
According to show management, almost 90 percent of attendees come to see new products. Buyer attendance has grown 14 percent at the show, and the estimated average planned purchase is $4.8 million. Executives, plant managers, operations managers, and many more company officials are among the Expo attendees.
Tech sessions
The Expo’s Food, Dairy, and Meat Tech sessions will highlight the latest innovations from the industry’s top suppliers. The 20-minute Tech presentations feature technical papers presented by exhibitors on new products and technologies that are re-shaping the industry. This year’s presentations cover a variety of topics in processing and packaging, ingredients and formulation, and sanitation and food safety.
The 12 companies that will be featured in the Meat Tech sessions are Herdon & Redmond Engineer/Architects, Hixson Architecture & Engineering, Kemin Food Ingredients, Mepaco, Munters Corp., Praxair Inc., Purac America, Quickdraft, Smiths Heimann, Synergetics Installations Worldwide, Unitherm Food Systems, and Vineberg Communications. Among the companies presenting at the Food Tech and Dairy Tech sessions are Ecolab Inc., Multivac Inc., Polygon Co., Siemens, and Tetra Pak Inc.
The Tech sessions are just one part of the Expo’s educational options. More than 45 educational workshops, offering more than 75 hours of programs, will also be available. “Manufacturing Solutions” will focus on what matters most on the production side of the food industry. Courses include “Improved Plant Efficiencies Through Smart Engineering,” “Innovation in Product Development,” Implementing Lean Manufacturing at Plant Level,” and “Plant Maintenance Short Course.” Credit for Continuing Education Units, Professional Development Hours, and Learning Units is available from the IAFIS for these sessions.
Several new retail sessions will focus on how food processors and manufacturers work with retailers to fulfill ever-changing consumer demand. The three sessions examine new technologies being used to make processing and manufacturing leaner and more efficient to keep up with the demand for innovative new products, as well as critical issues on which retailers and processors can work together to benefit consumers.
The retail sessions are “Traceability in the Perishables Category,” Consumer Expectation Demands Retailer-Processor Collaboration,” and “RFID in the Retail Food Industry: How Fast, How Far, and How Promising.”
Pre-show conference
The Meat Industry Research Conference (MIRC) held in conjunction with the AMI Meat, Poultry, & Seafood Expo, takes place October 25 and 26, and will focus on allergens, food defense, and culinary arts. MIRC is co-sponsored by the AMI and the American Meat Science Association. A welcome reception is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on October 25, sponsored by the Solae Company, a leader in the research and application of soy protein.
The conference, free to registered AMI Expo attendees, is targeted at those responsible for food safety, product development, regulatory compliance, and research and development. Food industry executives and experts will lead the education sessions on allergens, natural and organic opportunities, the affects of animal diet on meat consumption, and processing characteristics of pork, culinary arts, food defense, and other hot topics. MIRC is now fully integrated into the AMI education program. After the conference concludes at noon on October 26, attendees can head for the exhibit floor.
A number of sessions with contemporary topics will focus on:
Allergens: Food allergen ingredient labeling continues to take center stage at many company, industry, and government meetings as the regulatory agencies increase inspection. Learn what is required and the latest on proposed regulations. The session will cover consumer issues, new regulatory developments, and validation testing for allergens. Expert speakers include Anne Munoz-Furlong, chief executive officer and founder of The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, who will offer a consumer perspective; Jennifer Johnson, principal member at Bodendorfer- Johnson, LLC, who will address regulatory developments; and Tracie Sheehan, Ph.D., vice president, food safety for Sara Lee Corp. who will discuss process control.
Natural and Organic Opportunities: Natural and organic products are growing segments in the retail and foodservice segments. Learn about the current standards for the natural/organic segment, audits, and possible changes to come. In addition, learn more about the production and processing of natural organic products. Hear from retailers about the benefits of integrating these products into conventional product mixes. Speakers include Dave Carter, chair of USDA’s National Organic Standards Board, who will discuss current standards and possible changes; Joe Smillie, vice president of Quality Assurance International, who will discuss third-party verification, audits, and documentation; and Dr. Allen Williams, consultant and vice president of The Jacob Alliance, LLC and Livestock Management Consultants LLC, who will discuss branded beef programs.
Update session: Effect of Animal Diet on Meat Composition & Processing Characteristics of Pork: The session will be led by Dr. Lori Gatlin, an agricultural research technician at North Carolina State University, who will address how what an animal eats affects meat quality.
Culinary Arts: Explore how new culinary trends impact meat product development, from marinades to spices. Listen as a top chef discusses how consumer attitudes and appetites are changing demand for products that have ethnic accents, full flavors, offer sophisticated touches, and have great presentation. Learn what drives consumer crave and how to keep them satisfied. Dave Zino, director of the Beef and Veal Culinary Center for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, will discuss the role of the chef in meat product development. The session will also offer instruction in food presentation skills for meat scientists.
Food Defense: Learn how to ensure an optimal food defense using a variety of strategies. Protect against threats like food contamination and learn ideas on how to ensure the security of plant personnel and products. Meat industry executives will explain how Homeland Security regulatory requirements will impact meat operations. Expert speakers include Dave Wincowski, regulatory affairs manager for Kraft, speaking about the impact of food defense strategies on meat operations, and Ann Marie MacNamara, Ph.D. vice president of food safety and scientific affairs for Silliker, who will address interpretation and auditing and a representative of the Department of Homeland Security.
Hot Topics and Updates: This session provides updates on the latest hot topics concerning meat and meat products. Invited speakers include Gregg Doud, chief economist of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, who will speak about BSE and trade, and Dr. Eric Hentges, executive director, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion of USDA speaking about the new dietary guidelines.
For more information about MIRC, contact Marie DeLucia, AMI’s director of education and professional development, at mdelucia@meatami.com

AMI social events
Several social events at the AMI International Meat, Poultry & Seafood Convention and Expo are planned to celebrate history and offer networking opportunities.
International guests are welcome to attend a special welcome reception at 5:00 p.m. on October 27. International visitors from around the globe are invited to relax and network with colleagues and suppliers. In addition, a series of Spanish-language educational sessions aimed at education international senior-level managers about marketing to American suppliers will he held on October 28 and 29. “Strategic Program Requisites for Marketing to USA Customers” will address such topics as HACCP plan reviews, bio-terrorism compliance, and product recall plan validation and crisis management verification.
The AMI’s Chairman’s Gala Reception and Dinner will be held at 6:30 p.m. on October 28 at the Chicago Hilton and Towers. A special video tribute to AMI’s 100th anniversary will feature previous AMI chairmen reflecting on the Institute and industry history.
During the Gala, which will feature a “Roaring ‘20s” theme, complete with a speakeasy and jazz music, the chairman’s gavel will be passed.
The association will also present its four annual awards during the Gala:
The Edward C. Jones Community Service Award, for a company that has shown a strong commitment to the communities in which it operates;
The Supplier of the Year Award, for a supplier that has shown a spirit of partnership and made an outstanding contribution to the success of the meat and poultry industry;
The Industry Achievement Award, for an individual, group, or company whose work has contributed to the success of the meat and poultry industry;
The Scientific Achievement Award,  for an individual within the industry, academia, or government whose professional achievements have had a significant contribution to the scientific knowledge of the meat and poultry industry.
The AMI is also hosting the Washington Insider Breakfast on October 28. The Insider Breakfast brings industry professionals together to learn about what is going on in Washington and how it will affect their businesses. Along with recognizing industry political action committee (PAC) contributors, the breakfast will feature a to-be-announced political figure as a guest speaker. Guests will be able to interact with elected officials, while the officials will hear about the issues impacting the industry. NP
(AMI Profiles, featuring several of the companies that will be exhibiting at the Worldwide Food Expo, can be found starting on page 98.)
For information about the International Meat, Poultry & Seafood Convention and Exhibition and the Worldwide Food Expo 2005, contact the Convention Management Group at (703) 934-4700, fax (703) 934-4899, or visit www.worldwidefood.com