Monday, November 7, 2016

Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo: 2016 Recap

I recently attended the annual Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo in Boston. Check out my recap in today's blog post.

Disclosure: My travel, conference registration, and meals were covered by the Weight Management Dietetic Practice Group as part of my role on the executive committee.  Many of the events I attended were sponsored and acknowledged in the post.

A few weeks ago I attended the annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) in Boston, which is the mothership of nutrition conferences as it attracts nearly 8,000-10,000 Registered Dietitians and nutrition students.  The 5 days I spent at FNCE were jam packed!  From early in the morning to late at night I attended planning meetings, educational sessions, networking receptions, and sponsored events.

I attended the conference over the past several years (check out my posts from 2012, 2014, 2015).  Each year I enjoy seeing all of my nutrition friends (and meeting new ones) to catch up and hear what amazing things they are working on.  Needless to say  I alway leave the conference feeling super energized and motivated to take on the nutrition world!

Sponsored Events
Numerous food companies, commodity boards, and public relation firms hosted sponsored happy hours and meals throughout the conference.  I was honored to be invited to several of these events and enjoyed learning more about their product and service.

I started the conference off on Saturday afternoon by attending a lunch with Panera at Home.  The delicious lunch offerings highlighted the clean food offerings you can purchase right in your local supermarket and prepare at home.

Immediately after leaving the Panera event I quickly headed over to an event at a restaurant on the Boston harbor hosted by National Fisheries Institute.  As you can imagine lots of fish themed appetizers were served such as this crab macaroni and cheese and scallop ceviche.  The hosts of the event explained the #dishonfish campaign and reinforced the importance for people all ages (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) to consume at least 2 servings of seafood per week.

That evening I stopped at the Weight Management Dietetic Practice Group networking event and then headed over to a happy hour hosted by a public relations firm, Weber Shandwick,  for dietitians who participate in media activities.  This was a larger event, but I was happy to connect with several dietitian friends I had not seen in a while.

I woke up bright and early on Sunday morning to attend a breakfast hosted by Siggis and the Nutrition Entrepreneurs Dietetic Practice Group.  Did I mention the event started at 6:30 AM?!  But waking up was worth it to listen to a panel of nutrition entrepreneurs talk about their success within their businesses, including the founder of Siggis yogurt, Siggi himself.

I had another early morning on Monday when I attended the Weight Management Dietetic Practice Group breakfast sponsored by Tate and Lyle. The key note speaker discussed how innovative ingredients can reduce calories and provide added health benefits while not compromising taste and appeal.

The Expo Hall 

While spending time networking at FNCE is important to me, I also find it beneficial to spend some timing in the Expo Hall checking out all the new food products and nutrition services available.  The Expo Hall is huge with hundreds of booths and can certainly be overwhelming at times, but I try to do my research before hand to find out what companies will be present and also follow social media to see what other attendees are posting.

Here are some of the foods trends I found most interesting:

I was immediately drawn to the United Sorghum Checkout Program booth when I saw another attendee post on Instagram a picture of the the sorghum popcorn.  Prior to FNCE I was not terribly familiar with sorghum.  It is a whole grain small in size offering a mild flavor with versatile  offering (as you can see all of the products pictured contain sorghum) and can be used in most recipes that call for whole grains.

In case you missed it on social media, the year 2016 has been deemd the "Year of Pulses".  Pulses include beans, chickpeas, lentils, and dried peas. This versatile food offers a vegetarian protein source packed with fiber.  Pictured above is a hot breakfast cereal made with pulses, but they can also be used in baked goods, smoothies, salads, and much  more.

 Of course I went after the cookies at a nutrition conference!  The good news about these cookies from Fancy Pants Baking Co is they are baked with healthier ingredients and are made with fruit and vegetable dyes.

The expo hall was filled with milk products and protein shakes, but A2 Milk caught my eye over the other competition. The milk is easier digested, especially for those that may avoid dairy products.  The milk by A2 comes from cows who naturally only produce A2 protein (and not A1 protein).

Chocolate cereal with only 6 grams of sugar and has 6 grams of fiber?  Plus sprouted grains and coconut.  Enough said - Sign me up for Nature's Path Qi'a Superfood Cereal!  This might be one chocolate cereal I will offer the little one.

That was just a highlight of a few products and booths I was able to swing by - there are so many more products I could talk about!

Educational Sessions

As you can see from all that I have shared so far in this post there wasn't a whole lot of time for educational sessions, but I was able to find time to attend a few.

On Sunday of the conference I attended the 2016 Lenna Frances Cooper Lecture "From Typewritters to Twitter: The Evolution of Nutrition Communications" presented by Kathleen Zelman. The room was packed to hear about how nutrition communications has transformed over the past several decades and the impact nutrition communications has on the general public.

A few fun facts from the presentation:

I was surprised (well sort of) to find out millennials are more likely to trust health information from family and bloggers than certified health professionals (according to a 2016 IFIC survey).

And who knew "Meatless Mondays" wasn't a new trend and has been around for decades?!

And that my friends was my experience attending FNCE 2016.  Until next year!

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