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Almonds a Hit at IFT

A sous chef offers delicious, innovative almond
creations to booth guests at IFT.
More than 15,000 food professionals, involved in both the science and business of food, attended the 2011 Institute of Food Technologists Annual Conference in June. The Almond Board of California (ABC) took advantage of this opportunity to inform target audiences through various activities: trade show booth, engagement with trade media and inclusion in program activities. Attendees, including global food manufacturers, North American volume food service operators, professionals in quality assurance, regulatory officials and food researchers learned that California Almonds are a safe, high-quality product that is nutritious, delicious, versatile and offers multiple benefits for consumers worldwide.

Daily demonstrations attracted large crowds to the ABC booth, eager to taste the innovative almond concepts developed and presented by Research Chef John Csukor, who used a variety of almond forms to demonstrate the versatility of almonds as a product ingredient. ABC introduced guests to Umami Cakes, Almond Raisin Nature Bars, Black Forest Almond Chocolate Granola Bars, Farro and Almond Breakfast Cereal and Chocolate-Dipped Caramel Almond Bites.

In 2011, the McCormick Flavor Forecast listed nut butter, including almond butter, as one of its top 10 flavor pairings for that year. In response, Chef Csukor brought the forecast to life at IFT with two inspiring almond snack creations perfectly balanced with expertly selected brews at an Almonds and Ale Flavor Pairing reception.

“IFT is a high-energy show, because food is at the forefront of innovation in society right now,” said Chef Csukor. “A show like this gets a lot of attention and generates a lot of excitement. The people are all very intent on finding out what is the next greatest thing they should be developing. It is truly up to us to inspire them [food professionals] with the versatility that almond forms have in helping them create the next greatest dish.”

Food safety and sustainability were highlighted in several educational symposia during the conference. And rightly so, with the most expansive changes to food legislation in the past 50 years having been recently enacted by Congress, and now left up to the FDA for implementation. ABC food safety programs such as pasteurization were mentioned during scientific sessions as a model for others to follow. This bodes well for the almond industry, and although it is not yet clear what specific food safety regulations will be coming our way, we can feel confident that our efforts thus far will help us to prepare for the changes in the coming months.

Symposia on sustainability in the food industry confirmed that customers are interested in proof of sustainable production practices, and this attitude will continue to influence the way food producers do business today and in the future.

The Grand Prize–winning team of the 2010 Almond Innovation Student Competition was from Jiangnan University of Science and Technology in China. They attended the IFT Conference and showcased their winning product, Almond Matcha. A range of food industry professionals and journalists were treated to a sample and explanation of the students’ experience creating innovative treats with California Almonds.

For more information or for copies of presentations and recipes, contact Harbinder Maan.

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