Food Industry Connections
Mysterious Food Industry – The food industry is indeed a mysterious place! Luckily our meetings and gatherings are not secret and you can attend, join in and rub shoulders with companies that sell ingredients, local food manufacturers, consultants (like me) and food science students. This is where you need to network to connect with ingredient suppliers or find a manufacturer that can co-pack your beverage. Even if that person is not at the event, someone there will know someone.
Where Do Food Industry Types Hang? – Where are all the food industry people hanging out these days? Start-ups have so many questions about food technology, food science and manufacturing that it seems that the answers are hard to find and the people that answer those questions are also hard to find!
How to Find Them – Actually they are not! There are several organizations that organize regional events exclusively for food scientists, chefs, manufacturers, ingredient sales reps and other not easy to find food manufacturing sector individuals. I am going to tell you where these events are and how to attend them!
The IFT (Institute of Food Technologists www.ift.org) members meet face-to-face throughout the year. With fifty regional sections, four of them international, one can easily find other members in the area who are eager to network. And there are opportunities to participate and volunteer at a wide variety of section meetings and functions. Check out the IFT web site and find a section near you.
Free Admission – IFT not only has local events, they also have local suppliers nights — where all the ingredient companies set up booths to showcase their industrial ingredients (Think: freeze dried products, different starches and gums, flavoring systems and more). These events are free to attend. You can usually register for free on the regional IFT websites.
The RCA (Research Chef Association, www.culinology.com) also has regional events across the USA and in Canada. Check out their page here http://www.culinology.org/Regions/RCARegions.aspx. The RCA has more of a culinary angle than the IFT, so you may find yourself connecting with more local chefs or chefs that work in manufacturing.
Staying in Touch – Both organizations have hard working regional volunteers (including me — I am the regional contact in Northern California!) and you should introduce yourself to the organizer and make sure they keep you posted on upcoming events. Both organizations also have free newsletters and emails available for subscription (via their website) to stay up to date on the latest food industry happenings.
Event Schedule – You don’t have to join the RCA to attend their regional events; however, if you do join, you will be notified when they take place. If you don’t join, just try to check back on the organization’s website to confirm when the next event in your region will take place.
Food Trade Shows – Other ways to connect include attending food trade shows (check out my website www.theintrepidculinologist.com for a free trade show list download) or stopping by your local university that has a food science department. Ask some of the professors how you can connect with the local food science scene.
“Intrepid Culinologist” Rachel Zemser, MS, CCS, knows specialty food processing (making, producing, manufacturing)! And she is a proud Sponsor of Food Entrepreneur Magazine. www.theintrepidculinologist.com