Prepared Foods' editorial office is located near Chicago, an area that sports sizable technical facilities of food companies such as Kraft Foods, Quaker Oats, Sara Lee and Dean Foods. Local Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) meetings are well attended, and conversations mirror current industry events.

The profiles of those who attend IFT gatherings also reflect the industry. A North side meeting draws Kraft people; one on the South side pulls in those from Griffith Laboratories. The appearance of a company's R&D executives often signals job insecurity, as people expand networking efforts.

The labor market for those in food science always is a topic of interest. How much of an impact is the economy? Do mergers and consolidations mean a decreased number of jobs? One question posed at last month's meeting theorized that, with the speed of information transfer, new products obtain commercial success more quickly, but product life cycles are shorter.

It's an important concept. The longer a product's life, the more profit it tends to generate. “Products don't last because they don't keep up with changing consumer needs; because competitors are allowed to gain an advantage or ingredient; or because quality deteriorates,” notes Pam Eitmant, managing director, Product Dynamics, a division of RQA Inc., Chicago.

But what does it mean for the demand for technical staffs? For more insight into the job market, I turned to a particularly knowing group…recruiters.

Quality control positions are more active than R&D, which are more affected by a slow economy, says Wade Palmer, of Wade Palmer & Associates, Recruiters Inc., Rogersville, Mo. “The food industry doesn't experience the downward employment spiral of other industries, but companies become conservative in their hiring. I think things are turning, however,” says Palmer.

Maureen Knowlson of M&K Associates, Butler, Pa., offers this: “Companies are not keen on losing key technical people, but when they do, they tend to replace right away. Government statistics show that even in the face of a slowing economy, there is a shortage of skilled and technical labor. As the Baby Boomers are retiring, the younger demographic groups are not keeping pace. The industry has changed. Older individuals are easier to place, since companies don't think they'll keep employees longer than five years, anyway. Being unemployed is not the stigma it once was.”

Everyone deserves a job. Toward this effort, check out www.preparedfoods.com jobs page and our classified ad section starting on page 74.

Internet Information

For more information on subjects covered in this issue's articles, see the Internet sites provided below.

A Foray Into Flavors
www.restaurant.org — National Restaurant Association
www.fmi.org— Food Marketing Institute
www.femaflavor.org — Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association
www.naffs.org — National Association of Flavors & Food-Ingredients Systems

Delis Deliver
www.iddba.org — International Dairy Deli Bakery Assoc.
www.turkeyfed.org/foodsrv/manual/prod2.html — Natl. Turkey Fed. foodservice manual
http://www.technomic.com — Technomic foodservice consultants
www.eppainc.org — Eastern Perishable Products Association

Safety With A Good Bottom Line
www.nfpa-food.org — National Food Processors Association
www.nfpa-safe.org — NFPA-SAFE program
www.bobscandies.com — Bobs Candies

Category Analysis: Vegetarian Foods
www.mintel.com — Mintel International’s homepage
www.vrg.org/index.htm — Vegetarian Resource Group

Deep South Offers Simple, Flavorful Foods
www.gloryfoods.com — Glory Foods
www.saraleebakery.com — Sara Lee

Boosting Bread’s Value
www.scisoc.org/aacc/meeting/2001/abstracts/a01ma350.htm
— AACC abstract on consumer acceptability of soy bread
www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2001-12/osum-oss120601.php
— Press release on heart healthy soy bread
www.preparedfoods.com/archives/2001/2001_4/
0401soyfoodssoar.htm —PF article on soyfood

Modified Food Starch
www.pdlab.com/pdcarbo.htm — “Food science 101” on starches
www.home3.inet.tele.dk/starch/ — International Starch Institute website, Denmark
www.foodstarch.com/dictionary/a.asp — National Starch & Chemical online dictionary
www.cerestar.com/html/abc.html — Cerestar online glossary