As savvy processors know, in challenging times and in times of prosperity, you must innovate to remain competitive. Sometimes, the most rewarding ideas occur when you venture outside of your normal routine.

Here at Food Engineering, we have been producing the food and beverage industry’s leading manufacturing conference for more than a decade. This year’s keynote speaker is Randy Darcy, a former General Mills top executive who achieved $1 billion in improved gross margins through his ability to implement innovative methodologies. Randy will also discuss his holistic margin management program that more than doubled General Mills’ cost management effectiveness and was also the subject of a Harvard Business School case study.

Why do so many of the same engineering and operations executives and managers attend Food Automation & Manufacturing (FA&M) Conference & Expo year after year? The answer is simple. It provides the perfect combination of education from leading manufacturing experts, uncovers new solutions from key suppliers and provides the opportunity to network with industry peers who face the same manufacturing issues and challenges as you. At FA&M, all of this is done in an intimate atmosphere where it is quite possible to meet with every supplier as well as all speakers and 175 attendees.

From manufacturing innovation and sustainability, benchmarking, best practices and efficiency to food safety and quality, FA&M covers the key food industry issues. If these are the kinds of innovations you are seeking for your operation, turn to pages 130 to 132 in this issue to view the entire 2009 program, featuring speakers from Kraft, Keystone Foods, PepsiCo, Cargill, Dean Foods and Coca-Cola. FA&M is truly worth two-and-a half days of your time because it combines the right mix of practical knowledge from food and beverage processors with the perfect blend of supplier know-how.

Year after year, FA&M receives rave reviews. In fact, more than 95% of attendees surveyed have rated the conference as good or excellent in the last five years.

If you have not attended in the past, this is the year to venture out of the norm to see and hear our compelling line-up of speakers. We hope to see you and your colleagues in Sarasota, FL on April 26-29, for FA&M 2009.