Tandem Topics of Economic Uncertainty, Business Growth Capture Audience Interest at 2009 Sweetener Colloquium
(Washington, D.C. — February 17, 2009) Economic uncertainty, business growth opportunities and disaster recovery were just a few of the topics featured at this year's International Sweetener Colloquium held last week in Orlando, Fla. A record number of participants turned out to learn how the recession is affecting their colleagues and competitors, as well as the overall sweetener market. While the recession will last another 24 months, one speaker said, he and others indicated that the sweetener industry is well positioned for future innovation and growth.
The 2009 Sweetener Colloquium, hosted by the International Dairy Foods Association and the Sweetener Users Association, addressed the sweetener industry's latest challenges, obstacles and opportunities. The program offered a wide range of presenters, including former Congressmen, government officials, industry executives and academics.
"With a record-breaking 329 registrants from over 160 top companies, the Colloquium has proven again to be a critical event for the sweetener industry," said Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president and SUA treasurer.
One of the most popular sessions featured Jim Wiesemeyer, vice president of Informa Economics, Inc., who gave a broad overview of the current economic situation. Although the challenges will be great for the next 12 to 24 months, Wiesemeyer said, he urged executives to be prepared for the turnaround and opportunities that will follow.
The keynote speaker, former Congressman Charlie Stenholm (D-TX), zeroed in on what industry leaders can do to position their companies for survival and success in unsettled economic times. The industry has a positive story to tell in tough times, Stenholm said, noting that jobs and innovative new products are still available in the sweetener industry. He also encouraged leaders to educate their elected representatives about the challenges facing the sweetener industry.
John Sheptor, president and CEO of Imperial Sugar Company, delivered a forceful presentation that highlighted the recent challenges facing his own company. Reflecting on the explosion and fire that devastated Imperial's refining plant in Savannah, Ga., just one year ago, Sheptor shared the lessons he has learned and offered recommendations on a combustible dust standard and increased disaster training and assistance. The refinery accounted for nearly 10 percent of the total refined sugar available to the U.S. market.
Sheptor closed his presentation with updates on the refinery's reopening, aimed for late spring. In the meantime, the plant's employees are receiving new, extensive industry training funded by Imperial and the state of Georgia.
Other topics covered by Colloquium presenters included domestic energy supplies, the ethanol market, Farm Bill provisions, international trading patterns and the current sweetener marketplace.
IDFA and SUA would like to thank this year's sponsors: Amalgamated Sugar, Barry Callebaut, Corn Products, Domino, ED&F Man, CSC Sugar, ICE Futures U.S., Imperial Sugar Company, Jenkins Sugar Group and Louis Dreyfus Commodities. More information about these companies is available at www.idfa.org.
The 2010 International Sweetener Colloquium will be held February 21-24, 2010, at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami, Fla. For more information, contact Katie Sparrow, IDFA manager of international affairs at 202-220-3507 or email@example.com.
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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation's dairy manufacturing and marketing industries and their suppliers, with a membership of 530 companies representing a $110-billion a year industry. IDFA is composed of three constituent organizations: the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI), and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA). IDFA's 220 dairy processing members run more than 600 plant operations, and range from large multi-national organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent more than 85% of the milk, cultured products, cheese and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States. IDFA can be found online at www.idfa.org