Recent increases in food prices not only hurt consumers, but as those involved in food manufacturing know all too well, it hurts you professionally, too. Blame it on the government, shifting demands, unusual weather patterns or the price of a barrel of crude oil, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is predicting the crisis won’t be over soon.

According to FAO, what distinguishes the current state of agricultural markets is the concurrence of the hike in world prices of not just a selected few, but of nearly all major food and feed commodities. Around the globe, FAO says, diets are moving away from starchy foods toward more meat and dairy products, which is intensifying demand for feed grains and strengthening the linkages between different food commodities.

Just when you thought you had your continuous improvement and cost-cutting programs under control, the future looks a bit dim. After you squeeze every last dollar out of the energy budget and take great strides on the sustainability front, where can you turn for more cost savings?

The food industry has faced many crises before and has the knowledge and experience to meet these problems head on. But sometimes processors need help in locating the right solutions quickly. To help food and beverage manufacturers meet these increasing demands, I’d like to remind you that Food Engineering has a strategic event designed to do just that.

The goal of Food Engineering’s ProcessTechnologyXchange (PTX) event is to provide highly customized and confidential meetings between senior operations and engineering executives at leading food and beverage companies and senior management teams from a select number of capital equipment and service suppliers. The entire agenda for PTX is built around your capital equipment or service initiatives. This event will enhance the effectiveness of your capital equipment process, while reducing the time to develop partnerships with progressive equipment or service suppliers. PTX is now in its fifth year and the 2008 event will be held September 7-10 in Park City, Utah. I invite you to take a look at page 105 in this issue for more information on how your company may be considered for participation.