The availability (or lack) of food on supermarket shelves and the closure of all foodservice outlets at that time, brought the critical importance of the whole food supply chain into sharp focus for everyone but especially consumers. I was very pleased to see IFST pay tribute in those early weeks, to all the #foodheroes who have worked so hard to ensure we have continued to be able to get access to food during this difficult time.
More tangibly, IFST very quickly pulled together a highly experienced group of volunteer members to form our COVID-19 Advisory Group. Led by our Scientific Committee Chair, Chris Gilbert-Wood, this group has met twice per week for the last five months to develop or curate a highly practical set of online resources which you will have no doubt seen and hopefully accessed via our COVID-19 hub. This hub really epitomises, for me, the value of IFST as it provides independently reviewed and evidence-based information – made freely available for all to use.
We have also continued to have frequent dialogues with government departments over the last few months which have been valuable during the current crisis and will, I am sure, continue to be highly beneficial for all parties going forward.
You will have seen that the Institute (your Institute) has very quickly adapted to the online world by hosting very many highly informative and engaging webinars. A key element of IFST’s work is about the exchange of knowledge and, by hosting our events as webinars, we have significantly increased the number of ‘attendees’ to our events and, most importantly, provided
access for those outside the UK, with some webinars being attended by participants from 20+ countries.
The Board and I discussed and recognise that it is a very mixed picture for food professionals right now, with almost everyone being impacted either positively or negatively in some way by the current crisis. Some businesses have never been busier, having to find new supply chains and adapt to new processes to cater for changes in demand. At the same time, sadly, some businesses – especially those connected with the foodservice sector - have struggled to survive. Whichever is the case for you, I believe that IFST and the food science community which it represents, has never been so relevant and important in terms of providing support.
Please make sure you make the very most of your membership – I would encourage everyone within the IFST membership community to become more actively involved in support of each other. And, finally, I would like to extend a huge thank you to all of our volunteers for all they have been doing to support the Institute and the profession over the past few months – we couldn’t do it without you.
Don't forget to check out our 2018/2019 Annual Highlights. We had another exceptional year thanks to the support and involvement of our members and the generous backing of our corporate supporters.