AFFI-CON, the annual conference and professional networking event organized by the American Frozen Food Institute, will kick off at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a Marriott hotel property, on February 29 and run for four days. The annual gathering is expected to bring together approximately 1,500 delegates from over 600 companies representing sectors ranging from processors and ingredients suppliers to logistics partners, packaging manufacturers, importers, exporters, distributors and others.
Education seminars and social opportunities are featured daily, starting with a business session from 12:30 to 2 PM on Saturday, the 29th, entitled Getting the Science, Legal and Business Case Right: Incorporating Food Safety into Enterprise Risk Management. The speakers’ roster includes Professor Martin Wiedmann of Cornell University, Melanie Neumann of Matrix International Sciences, and Michael Cramer of Ajinomoto Foods North America.
Food Safety Workshop
The second session on Saturday, a two-part Food Safety Workshop themed Produce Safety: How to Minimize Disruption in the US Marketplace, will take place from 2 to 5 PM.
Part 1 will focus on the Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) pathogen. Addressing risk assessment and modeling studies as well as examining alternative regulatory concepts such as the application of quantitative Lm performance standards, and discussing the benefits and limitations of these approaches, will be Professor Craig Hedberg of the University of Minnesota, Emeritus Professor Mark Harrison of the University of Georgia, and Research Assistant Birttany Magdovitz of the University of Georgia.
Enteric Viruses in Frozen Fruits is the Part II subject. Panelists will discuss AFFI’s efforts to mitigate impact on the frozen berry industry and share efforts in the development of best food safety practices for frozen fruit facilities and their supply chains. Speakers are Professor Lee-Ann Jaykus of North Carolina State University, John Tentomas of Nature’s Touch Frozen Foods, Jeremiah Sasser of Superior Foods, and Dr. Sanjay Gummalla, AFFI’s vice president of scientific affairs.
Gene Editing and Seed Science
The spotlight will be on Gene Editing and Seed Science during the 7:15 to 7:45 AM Education Session on March 1. Addressing what this important technology will mean to the future of the frozen fruit and vegetable business will be Jeff Zischke, director of research and development at Sakata Seed America, and Dr. Allen Van Deynze, director of the Seed Biotechnology Center and associate director of the Plant Breeding Center at the University of California-Davis.
Power of Frozen in Foodservice
Following up on the success of the American Frozen Food Institute’s Power of Frozen in Retail report released during the 2019 AFFI-CON, the next edition in the research series, entitled Power of Frozen in Foodservice, is being issued this year. Researchers have examined the frozen food landscape in restaurants and institutions to uncover operator attitudes, perceptions and opportunities for the frozen food industry. Most importantly, the report identifies how manufacturers and distributors can most effectively meet needs to strengthen demand for usage of frozen products among foodservice operators.
Speaking about the findings will be members of a four-person panel consisting of AFFI President and CEO Alison Bodor, Ajinomoto Foods Vice President of Foodservice Marketing Michael Castagana, Dataessential Researcher and Registered Dietician Marie Molde, and McCain Foods Director of Marketing Melissa Woodbury.
Relax and Connect with Customers and Prospects
Many social events and receptions are also on tap, starting on February 29 with AFFI-CON Happy Hours from 3:30-5:30 PM, a First-Timers Reception at 5 PM, and a Welcome Reception for all delegates from 5:30-7 PM.
March 1 Happy Hours are set for 3:30-5:30, followed by a Wine & Beer Tasting Reception from 5:30-7 PM.
The highlight on March 2 will be AFFI’s Annual Meeting and Industry Spotlight, including the Frozen Food Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, from 7:15-8:45 AM. A members only AFFI Regulatory Affairs Council Lunch and Meeting takes place from 12-1:30 PM.
AFFI-CON Happy Hours on March 2 are set for 3:30-5:30 PM, followed by an invitation only AFFI Chair’s Reception from 5:30-6:30 PM.
AFFI-CON Exhibitors Beckon
During the duration of AFFI-CON table-top exhibitors will display products and literature in “The Hub.” It is the center of conference activity, registration desks and home to evening receptions, which ensure maximum visibility and traffic.
As this story was being written, 36 exhibitors were listed, as follows:
A&B Packing Equipment, Booth 418; A-SAFE Inc., Booth 407; Atlas Pacific Engineering Co., Booth 402; BC Frozen Foods, Booth 109-111; Buhler Group, Booth 301; Burris Logistics, Booth 423; CyberSecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Booth 101; DelKor Systems, Inc., Booth 424; Ebrofrost , Booths 309-311; EPG (Ehrhardt Partner Group), Booth 416; Garlock Printing, Booth 421; Hangzhou ZGF Group Co., Ltd., Booth 403; Hansen-Rice Inc., Booth 325; Hanson Logistics, Booth 112; Happy D Corp, Booth 317; Innovative Cold Storage, Booth 327; Intertek/Alchemy, Booth 429; Isik Organic, Booth 106.
Also: Matrix Sciences, Booth 117; Michigan Freeze Pack, Booth 408; National Mango Board, Booth 103; Naturipe Foods, Booth 417; Novolex, Booth 400; PIGO, Booth 410; Raytec Vision, Booth 319; RefrigiWear, Booth 303; RLS Logistics, Booth 419; Sierra Pacific, Booth 119; South Mill Mushroom, Booth 216; SunLeaf Division of CH Belt, Booth 110; Tamlin Software, Booth 102; Tippmann Group, Booth 200; Tomra, Booth 202; Toteco, Booths 208-210; TPJ Foods, Booth 104; US Highbush Blueberry Council, Booth 426.
More information about AFFI-CON, including registration details, is available by visiting the McLean, Virginia-headquartered trade association’s website: www.affi.org. – Reported by John Saulnier