SNAXPO 2005 Hosts Snack Manufacturers From Around the World

Snaxpo 2005 Attendees Were Welcomed to Hollywood, Fla., on March 12 With an Oceanside Floridian Party at the Newly Reconstructed and Luxurious Westin Diplomat. Snack Food Manufacturers Were Able to Visit With Suppliers in a Tropical Setting While Dining on Favorite Local Fare and Listening to Music Reminiscent of a Week at the Beach. More Than 1,300 People — Including Representatives From 55 Different Countries — Attended the Snack Food Association’s 68th Annual Conference and Exposition.
Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft kicked off the general sessions by imploring attendees that, if they don’t like the current results, they should change the system. Being active and involved in the association and making their presence known in Washington, Ashcroft explained, was one way in which that was possible.
Ashcroft showed his sense of humor throughout most of the talk, slipping in a humorous narrative here and there to lighten the mood. However, he became all business as he recounted his day from a personal standpoint as the events of Sept. 11, 2001, unfolded. The way in which the United States government had to change the system to avoid having those tragic results happen again was of the utmost importance, he said. He realized that day that business-as-usual wasn’t going to cut it anymore in the U.S.
Rice Enters Circle of Honor
The prestigious Circle of Honor Award was presented to Michael W. Rice, Chairman and CEO of Utz Quality Foods, Inc. He was hailed as a leader who brings out the entrepreneurial spirit in his employees. Rice is the third generation to work at Utz, started in 1921 by his grandparents, Bill and Salie Utz. In the more than 25 years he has served at the helm of Utz, the company has been a pacesetter that currently has 800 routes in parts of 13 states from Maine to North Carolina, plus Washington, D.C.
In accepting the award, Rice, who served as SFA’s Chairman of the Board in 1982, told about his involvement in the snack food industry and the changes he had witnessed over the years. His first recollection of SFA was attending a Summer Snack Meeting at The Greenbrier in White Sulfur Springs, W.Va., when he was 11 years old. Rice also mentioned the “common thread of good people” that he has worked with over the years. He concluded by saying that he looked on the Circle of Honor award as an accomplishment of many others, including his grandparents, who “had the gumption and courage to risk the little they had to go into business.”
Within Wal-Mart’s World
In his session, titled “What I Learned from Sam Walton: Compete and Thrive in a Wal-Mart World,” Michael Bergdahl of Michael Bergdahl Associates gave attendees a detailed look at the inner workings and strategies of retail giant Wal-Mart. Bergdahl, who was formerly the director of people for Wal-Mart, drew on his experiences there to give pointers on business strategies that could be used by snack manufacturers and other companies to improve their business.
Bergdahl explained the strategy that he labeled “P.O.C.K.E.T.S.” — Wal-Mart’s seven major points of focus in their business strategy. The acronym stands for Price, Operations, Culture, Key item promotion, Expenses, Talent and Service. Wal-Mart worked to dominate those seven areas any time it opened a store or looked for new business, and Bergdahl explained why Wal-Mart was typically successful in winning each of those battles.
Bergdahl urged attendees to visit his Web site,, where they can access his Wal-Mart Blog and get regular information regarding Wal-Mart news and insight on how it pertains to the industry,
Intensity of Low-Carb Wanes
Among the wide range of educational sessions that SNAXPO attendees could choose from was a popular one titled,  “Do Carbs Count?” In this session, Susan Borra, RD, Kari Hecker, Ph.D, RD, and Lisa Katic, RD, tackled the perception that the low-carb diet craze is waning. Borra, executive vice president of the International Food Information Council, kicked off the talk by pointing out that a significant amount of consumers are still concerned at least somewhat with nutrition, but the number of those consumers that are following a low-carb diet today has dropped.
Hecker, corporate nutritionist for Frito-Lay, looked at the science behind the low-carb diet, and concluded that it is not the type of diet that the person is on that will determine whether weight loss will occur, but instead it is the sustained adherence to that diet that determines it. For the food industry, it is calories that still count, not so much carbohydrates.
Katic, president of K Consulting and nutrition consultant to SFA, explained to attendees that the craze may be waning, but that it was still important for there to be government and industry regulation of things like “low-carb” or “no carbs” claims and package labeling that displayed such claims. Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which verifies and regulates all such claims, is still working on the regulations, and no one is certain when those rules will be released.
Reducing Acrylamide Risk
In his presentation, “Acrylamide: Do we have a problem? An update,” Dr. David Lineback described the ongoing body of work on acrylamide formation and mitigation in the U.S. and in Europe.  Lineback, director of the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, noted that recent deliberations in Europe culminated in a number of recommendations on reduction of risk.
Specifically, the Joint WHO/FAO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) performed a risk assessment and concluded that the panel:
• Re-evaluate acrylamide when results of ongoing carcinogenicity and long-term neurotoxicity studies become available.
• Continue work on PBPK modeling to better link human biomarker data with exposure assessments and toxicological data in experimental animals.
• Continue appropriate efforts to reduce acrylamide concentrations in food.
• Occurrence data on acrylamide in foods as consumed in developing countries would be useful. Lineback concluded by saying that there is no clear scientific evidence now that acrylamide in foods presents a health risk. However, the JECFA risk assessment raises concern to be further addressed.
RFID Tags Are Here
Even if companies are not currently using radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, now is the time to learn about the technology and gain experience with them. This was the advice of Eric E. Gabrielson, Director of Worldwide RFID Solutions at IBM. Speaking to snack food manufacturers, he stressed the importance of gaining their own experience through trials and controlled pilots.
“There is no substitute for hands-on learning,” Gabrielson emphasized. While the trigger to use RFID may be a retailer mandate, potential benefits to the manufacturer are increased sales through merchandising compliance and reduced out of stocks, improved promotional planning and execution, and improved inventory management, Gabrielson explained. He suggested that some of the advantages that RFID tags have over barcodes are the ability to read multiple tags simultaneously, higher data capacity, and the potential for read/write capability. Additionally, RFID tags are less susceptible to damage.
To gain hands on experience, Gabrielson recommends conducting a pilot project. The objectives of a pilot should be to validate the feasibility of RFID in a manufacturing and/or warehouse environment and validate the assumptions, benefits and costs of RFID. It should be a working test that is conducted before implementing RFID in a full production environment, he added.
Oil Producers Request Usage Estimates
The oil and oilseed suppliers who spoke at the “New Technologies in Edible Oils” educational session asked for estimates for future usage of no trans, naturally stable oil. Due to an expected increase in demand, the suppliers stressed the importance of snack manufacturers providing estimates of the naturally stable oils they will need for trans fat-free products prior to spring planting. Although these oils are available commercially now, trends toward new trans fat-free products in the marketplace are putting some pressure on supply.
In discussing Vistive soybean oil, David Stark of Monsanto, pointed out that there is a two-year planning cycle in forecasting demand. He added that there will be a premium on the oils initially, but the costs will come down as perceived risks to growers and oil suppliers diminish.
Soybean oil is the predominate domestic oil (at 65% of total usage) and a major global oil (at 33%). However, noted Stark, current soy oil is not optimal for most food applications so it is often hydrogenated or blended. Vistive oils offer improved stability without hydrogenation.
Larry Kleingartner, executive director of the National Sunflower Association, also stressed the need to hear from oil buyers now concerning future demand. Discussing NuSun, a high-oleic oil, he explained some of the obstacles faced in 2004. For example, 20% of the designated sunflower acres were not planted due to record rainfall in June. However, despite some setbacks, Kleingartner said, the infrastructure is in place to produce NuSun, and the price is down from a high reached in 2003.
Pablo Ilarregui, Oils Channel Manager at Dow AgroScience, suggested that saturated and trans fat in some crackers could be reduced by as much as 85% by changing from partially hydrogenated oil to Natreon canola oil. Natreon is a naturally stable, high-oleic, low-linolenic canola oil.
International Members Play Key Role
A growing population with increasing purchasing power is providing numerous opportunities for snack food companies to grow their businesses in the American Hispanic market, suggested Carlos Garcia, president/founder of Garcia Research, Burbank, Calif. Speaking at the fifth annual Latin American Educational program, held in conjunction with SNAXPO 2005, Garcia explained that these consumers are also looking for new flavors and products from snack and other food manufacturers.
More than 45 attendees from over 10 Latin American countries participated in the Latin American educational program, held Saturday, March 12. Besides Hispanic marketing trends in the U.S., other speakers included Delia Altamirano, director of government and regulatory affairs for Sabritas, who reviewed technical and regulatory issues affecting Latin American snack food manufacturers, and Dr. Alejandro Castillo of Texas A&M University, who discussed good manufacturing practices for corn-based snack products.
All international attendees were honored at a reception, held on the intercoastal waterway at the Diplomat Marina. Attendees from 55 different countries represented the worldwide snack food industry at SNAXPO.
Shearer Becomes Chairman
Robert (Bob) J. Shearer, president & CEO of Shearer’s Foods, Inc., was installed as Chairman of SFA during the recognition breakfast. After three generations in the grocery store business, Shearer and his family founded a snack food distribution business in 1974. In ’79, they began manufacturing their own kettle-cooked potato chips. Today, Shearer’s Foods, an award-winning company, produces a complete line of potato chips, tortilla chips and cheese curls.  Shearer’s snacks are distributed throughout the Midwest, New England and parts of Canada.
In his acceptance speech, Shearer thanked Nick Chilton, outgoing SFA Chairman and president/CEO of Wyandot, Inc., others who contributed to SFA, his company’s employees, his wife and SFA staff. He also outlined his goals for the year, which can be found in the Chairman’s letter on page 59.
 The election of Richard M. Rudolph, president of Rudolph Foods Company, as 1st Vice Chairman, and Thomas W. Dempsey, vice president of sales and marketing at Utz Quality Foods, as 2nd Vice Chairman, was also announced at the recognition breakfast. Chilton and David R. Ray, president and CEO of Mike-sell’s Potato Chip Company, will serve as past Chairmen. Ken Smith of Printpack Inc., Atlanta, Ga., will serve as the president of the Associate Executive Committee.
Latest Developments Showcased
The latest in ingredients trends, packaging developments, state-of-the-art equipment and services were showcased on the SNAXPO exhibit floor. (See sidebar on this page for a list of exhibitors.) Chilton, as the outgoing SFA chairman, cut the ribbon to officially open the exhibit floor on Sunday morning, March 13. Ashcroft and his wife, Janet, visited with SFA members on the exhibit floor after he gave the keynote address.
After three days of educational sessions, networking and learning about the latest development in worldwide snack food manufacturing, SNAXPO attendees had the opportunity of enjoy the ambiance of South Florida at the Chairman’s Dinner and Gala before returning to their companies to apply their newly acquired knowledge.
Utz’s Rice Honored
SNAXPO 2005 proved to be an award-winning expedition for Michael W. Rice, chairman/CEO of Utz Quality Foods. First Rice accepted his induction into SFA’s prestigious Circle of Honor, as outgoing SFA chairman Nick Chilton presented the award (left photo). The Circle of Honor award was established in 1994 to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to their companies, the snack food industry, SFA and their communities. Rice becomes the 18th member to be honored. Later that day (right photo), Rice and Rick King (left), president/COO of Utz, accepted Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery’s 2005 Snack Manufacturer of the Year award from Andy Hanacek, the magazine’s managing editor. Utz earned the SF&WB award for the second time in the past eight years by continuing to grow its annual sales at an average of 10% in each of the last 15 to 20 years and by streamlining its operations to maximize efficiency for future growth.

Snaxpo 2005 Exhibitors

A.C. Horn & Co./Cantrell International
ADI Systems Inc.
AFP advanced food products llc
ARAMARK Facility Services
AZO Incorporated
Airflow Sciences Corporation
American Extrusion International
Ameriquest/Food Fleet Xchange
Amigos Canning Co.
Atlantic Quality Spice & Seasonings
Auto Labe
Azteca Milling, L.P.
Bach Snacks
Bak Flexibles
Baking & Snack
Baltimore Spice, Inc.
BelTek Systems Design Inc.
Bertels Can Company
BluePrint Automation
Bryce Corporation
Bunge Milling
Bunting Magnetics Co.
C-P Flexible Packaging
C. Cretors and Company
Cambridge International, Inc.
Cargill Dry Corn Ingredients/Cargill Dressings, Sauces & Oils
Casa Herrera, Inc.
Chemetall Oakite
Chesapeake Spice Co.
Chr. Hansen, Inc.
Commercial Creamery Co.
Covance Laboratories
Custom Ingredients, Ltd.
Dallas Group
Douglas Machines Corp.
EPI Exact Packaging, Inc.
Ensign Ribbon Burners LLC
European Snacks Association
Evan Food Group Ltd.
ExACT Mixing Systems, Inc.
Formers of Houston, Inc.
GSC Blending
Heat and Control, Inc.
J.C. Ford Company
J.R. Short Milling Co.
KEY-PAK Machines
KIREMKO bv Food Processing Equipment
Kelron Logistics
Kerry Savory
Knauss Snack Food Company
Kraft Food Ingredients
Lactoprot USA
Land O’Lakes Industrial Division
Lanly Company
Le Caselle SRL
Limagrain Cereales Ingredients
MAC Equipment, Inc.
MANE, Inc.
Maddox Metal Work, Inc.
Matrix Packaging Machinery
Michigan Potato Industry Commission
Minsa Corporation
Mobile Tech Solutions, Inc.
Morton Salt, A Rohm & Haas Company
NDC Infrared Engineering
National Starch Food Innovation
National Sunflower Assocation
Nebraska Popcorn
North Point Group, Inc.
Norwood Marking Systems
O’Malley Grain, Inc.
P&G Food Ingredients
PURAC America, Inc.
Performance Packaging
Presco Food Seasonings
Printpack Inc.
Process Senssors Corporation
Quality Fabrication & Design, LP
Quality Ingredients Corporation
RITO Partnership
Ramsey Popcorn Co., Inc.
Reading Bakery Systems
Ross Computer Systems
Rudolph Foods Company
Sabert Corporation
Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery
Spray Dynamics, Ltd.
Star Filters
SunGold Foods, Inc.
Sunrich: A SunOpta Company
TH Foods, Inc.
TNA North America, Inc.
Tate & Lyle
Taylor Products, Division of Magnum Systems
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
UniTrak Corporation Limited
Unified Products, Inc.
Unique Solutions
United Soybean Board
Urschel Laboratories, Inc.
Vanmark Corporation
WILD Flavors, Inc.
Weatherchem Corporation
Wenger Manufacturing
Wire Belt Company of America
Wolverine Proctor & Schwartz
Wyandot, Inc.
Yamato Corporation
domnick hunter inc.