Are we truly in a recession? While declared the recession official back in February, other financial experts have not.

In mid-May, JP Morgan’s CEO said he thinks we are just in the beginning. And the annual World Competitiveness Yearbook states that the US holds the top spot as the world’s most competitive economy.

According to a Conference Board Report in late May, things are starting to look up.

While higher energy and food prices are some of the factors that led to a less robust global economy, the report says we were never headed to a severe recession. The Conference Board goes on to say that the economy is not strong enough yet to deliver 3% GDP, but is it also not weak enough to drop into a sharp downturn this summer. More realistically, with the economy now in its third straight sluggish quarter, more slow economic growth and modest job declines could be ahead, the report continues.

Of course, most of us know more people who have lost their jobs in the last six months compared to this time in 2007. And while I hear friends and colleagues in some Southern states talk about the foreclosure signs in their neighborhoods, I have not seen them here in the Northeast.

One old adage says the food industry is recession-proof. While this may not hold true today, the industry is certainly holding its own. Take a look at the 31st Annual Plant Construction Survey, which begins on page 64 in this issue. In the midst of our recession-manic society, I was expecting the total number of plant projects to be considerably lower. In fact, the opposite is true. While we have hovered around the 500 range of total food and beverage projects of more than $1 million since 2001, we uncovered a healthy 613 projects for 2007.

Although the food industry is not out of woods financially speaking, the growth in plant projects is surely one instance where heavy is healthy.