There are three main components to a world-class conference: program, sponsorship and attendees.
That’s the verdict of Dérick Rousseau and Nicolas Bertrand, who recently organized the Canadian section of the American Oil Chemists’ Society (CAOCS) 25th conference on fats and oils, held in Québec City in early October 2015.
“We were very fortunate to have a critical mass of quality attendees with a strong program and supportive sponsors,” said Rousseau, a professor at Ryerson University and conference chair. “We had excellent feedback. People were impressed with the high calibre of presentations and attendees, and the networking opportunities that were there.”
Rousseau says in his experience, finding an organization to partner with on common interests has often proven successful.
The CAOCS event was jointly organized with the Consortium for Research and Innovation in Industrial Bioprocesses in Quebec (CRIBIQ), an organization with a goal to facilitate collaboration between industry and research institutions for bioprocess development within the province.
“This year we worked to bring more industry partners to an event that has been traditionally academia,” said Bertrand, project manager with CRIBIQ. “We introduced an industry track for most of the conference program that ran parallel to the academic side. It was very well received.”
Industry participants came from the United States and Canada, representing agricultural biotechnology, bioproducts, and regulatory bodies. But the conference also remained true to its roots by promoting the involvement of academic researchers and students throughout the program.
“These students are going to be the future of the fats and oils industry,” said Rousseau. “The quality of the scientific material students presented was very good. When we’re dealing with food-related research, it has to be relevant to industry and consumers. We’ve seen a disconnect in recent years, and it’s time we bridge that gap.”
Of the three million tonnes of vegetable oil produced in Canada each year, 80 per cent of it is exported, mainly to the U.S. and China.
In 2011, the Canadian vegetable oil industry had global economic benefits of $6.7 billion for the Canadian economy. Globally, vegetable oils are mainly used in human food applications, animal feed and industrial applications.
While Canada’s canola sector represents approximately 90 per cent of the vegetable oil produced in Canada, there is also a lot of interest in the development of specialty trait oils like high oleic canola and soybean, and camelina.
The CAOCS conference is held every two years, alternating between Western Canada and Eastern Canada.
Courtesy Lisa McLean