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Food processing cluster Springdale Convention

10 April 2009 1,940 views No Comment

SPRINGDALE – Jon “Jed” Dreisker, vice president and general manager of Dancing Bear Ingredients in Bartlesville, Okla., showed off dehydrated mushrooms from J-M Farms of Miami, Okla., a product and firm he is representing to food processors.

Dreisker’s company is an industrial food ingredient broker serving food processors and manufacturers in the south-central part of the country.

He was among more than 70 exhibitors Wednesday at the 103rd Annual Convention of the Ozark Food Processors Association at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Springdale.

Companies Dreisker sells from are those that make ingredients such as cocoa, herbs and spices, chili peppers, teriyaki sauce, essential oils and other ingredients that go into food.

David Snow, industrial control and safety specialist, was manning the Consolidated Electrical Distributors booth. The company offers electrical and automation products and counts Tyson Foods Inc. and Allen Canning Co. among its clients.

He said attending the convention is a way “just to meet the customers, make some more contacts if that’s possible.”

It’s also basically a way to show somebody new to the business “what types of product is out there and where they can get it.”

The Ozark Food Processors Association was founded in 1906 and represents the multibillion-dollar food industries of the Ozark region. It is a nonprofit, regional organization with national representation.

It works to provide a platform where regional food processors, suppliers and associated industries can discuss, plan and implement programs relevant to their needs, as well as an effective voice to allow members to participate in legislative and governmental decision-making.

It also works to design technical and educational programs to serve the needs of members and offers the chance for food industry personnel to network, solve problems, share valuable experiences and plan for the future.

The theme of this year’s convention was “Food Safety: Past, Present and Future.” The convention’s schedule included lectures from recognized experts to address food safety issues from the farm to the package.

Much of Wednesday’s schedule was taken up with educational sessions about food safety.

A big part of the day, however, was suppliers demonstrating and showcasing products, equipment and services for a wide range of food processors.

Tracy Smith, territory sales representative from J.M. Swank Co. in North Liberty, Iowa, with its closest warehouse in Dallas, was on hand to discuss food ingredients.

The company provides ingredients to the food processing industry, including meat and poultry processing, bakery, grain-based, dairy, confectionery, beverage, snack foods, prepared foods and other related industries.

“We’re trying to grow in Arkansas,” Smith said.

Robert Witte of Rhodes Electrical Sales Agency, works to connect clients, or companies that need them, with distributors.

He shows potential customers manufactured products and hooks them up with distributors.

“We get paid by the manufacturers,” he said.

“We wouldn’t miss these things,” he said of the convention.

Ron Schifsky, national sales manager for Butter Buds Food Inc., which is based in Racine, Wis., showed one of the newer products. It is olive oil buds, which can provide the natural taste of olive oil. A proprietary process is used to concentrate natural, extra virgin olive oil into a powder. It is claimed to have up to eight times the flavor strength of olive oil.

“We try to introduce a new product about every other quarter,” Schifsky said.

Katherine Cachaper is a technical sales representative from TIC Gums, of White Marsh, Md., which provides stabilizers for products such as ice cream.

Cachaper said she has a few clients in this area.

She services the entire Midwest – from Chicago to Colorado.

There were about 400 to 500 people, including exhibitors, attending the convention, said Renee Threlfall, research associate at the Institute of Food Science and Engineering at the University of Arkansas. She serves as secretary of the Ozark Food Processors Association. She said there were people represented from 35 different states.

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