I am writing this column on the day they call the most depressing day of the year: January 24. By the time you read this, say around mid-February, I am not so sure that day will seem any different.

Unless you have been living under a rock, I am sure you have heard the news stories about January 24 being a day of despair for many people. According to a UK psychologist, the combination of winter doldrums, past due holiday bills and not much to look forward to has been to blame.

What's this got to with do the manufacture of food? Plenty. Food Engineering has something you can look forward to. Each year, we gather the industry's leading minds at our Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo. The 2006 edition of the conference will again provide a winning combination of great speakers, interesting company and yes, anticipation of sunny days.

Join us in Fort Myers, FL, at the Sanibel Harbour Resort from April 9-12 to hear speakers from leading companies such as General Mills, Miller Brewing and Kraft Foods present their ideas on manufacturing innovation. The speakers will cover a wide array of topics from Managing Your Core Competencies and Implementing RFID to Best Practices in Energy Consumption and Optimizing the Power of Quality.

Back by popular demand is a conference highlight called Ask the Experts. In this special forum, you, as an audience member, can obtain solutions to your most perplexing plant or manufacturing challenges through our panel of experts.

Smarter processing and engineering solutions are always on the agenda at the Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo. Please turn to pages 36-38 in this issue to see the full line-up of speakers and activities we have planned.

Food Engineering will help you chase the blues away professionally as well as personally with our top-notch sessions, speakers, exhibitors and tropical location. I hope to see you in Florida April 9-12.