As I write this from my home office in suburban Chicago in January, we’re digging out from the eight or so inches of snow we’ve received in the last few days. The low temperature for the next couple days is predicted to be double-digits below zero.

Miami sounds pretty good right about now.

The city is the home of this year’s Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo, our annual gathering of leaders from the food and beverage industry. The conference, which will be at the Doral Resort from April 14-17, is a great opportunity to network, learn where the industry’s going and share ideas with other processors who are facing the same challenges as you. Plus, the odds are very good that it won’t be snowing there.

Aside from the weather, I’m looking forward to this year’s conference, my first as program director, because of the great speakers we already have lined up. 

Our Monday keynote will be by Anthony Doss, vice president of engineering, poultry, Tyson Foods. Anthony will speak on the role of engineering in building and operating the food plant of tomorrow. On Tuesday, our keynote address will be from Matt Kovar, engineering and facilities manager, Kellogg Co. Matt’s topic will be recognizing the importance that people play in an automation process. 

Beyond the keynotes, we have a number of other great sessions planned. Mark Braun, CEO of Hispanic Cheese Makers (see our December 2018 cover story), will speak about how to develop and maintain a culture that views sustainability as a first principle instead of an added bonus. Bob Wolpert of Golden State Foods will address the future of supply chain and product management.

Tammy Wong from ARYZTA will present on clean label; ARYZTA’s Otis Spunkmeyer brand has been a leader in developing clean labels even without industry standards on what a clean label should be. Joyce Longfield, chairperson of the Cold Pressure Council, will lead a panel on high pressure processing. Leonard Heflich, formerly of Grupo Bimbo, will present on leadership, a topic he knows so well from his time in the industry that his book on the subject was recently published.

We’ll also present awards for the Food Engineering Plant of the Year and the Refrigerated & Frozen Foods 2019 Refrigerated Foods Processor of the Year. And our Solutions Theater sessions are always popular.

That’s a pretty good lineup, if I do say so myself, and it’s not even complete yet. I can’t wait to see how the final program shapes up. Given the speakers that we already have and the speakers that we’re working on confirming, those four days in Miami will be a great opportunity for food and beverage processors who want to learn more about where the industry’s going and how we’ll get there.

You can learn more about the show and register at I look forward to seeing you there, and I can’t wait to spend a few days hearing from some of the industry’s best and brightest—and not needing a snow shovel.