At the "East Meets West: Bridging the Cultures with Food/Almond Innovations" symposium, attendees were updated on varying food industry trends in the U.S. and China by Dr. Roger Clemens (Institute of Food Technologists [IFT] president-elect), Lawrence Allen, China business consultant and author of Chocolate Fortunes: The Battle for the Hearts, Minds and Wallets of China’s Consumers, and Dr. Sharon Shoemaker of UC Davis.

Dr. Clemens said there is a shortage of students in food science technology programs, and he expects this shortage will affect the U.S. food industry with current food quality and safety priorities.

Allen told the story of five global chocolate companies entering the Chinese market. Each company’s strategy to launch its chocolate products in China provides an excellent case study for international businesses, especially for the California Almond industry, when conducting business in China.

Dr. Shoemaker concluded the session by showing the extensive investment the Chinese government has made in the food industry and education of food science students. China has over 200 universities with food science programs and an annual enrollment of more than 20,000 undergraduate students in these programs.

Dr. Shoemaker commended the Almond Board of California on its successful student almond innovation competition as part of an integrated market development strategy for China. The competition has been in existence for seven years and has grown in participation from one university to 36, with more than 12,000 students participating.