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ASSOCIATIONS NOW, November/December 2013 The A List

By: Mark Athitakis

Summary: Looking for an entry point into a new global market? Publishing can help you introduce your association to an international audience. Here's how the Institute of Food Technologists used its magazine to establish a foothold in China.

When you decide to enter a new market, what do you offer first? When the Institute of Food Technologists began planting deeper roots in China, publishing was its main focus.

"I think in every country you want to get involved in, you have to decide on your entry point," says IFT Executive Vice President Barbara Byrd Keenan, FASAE, CAE. "You have to be clear about your objective, and you have to be clear about their objective."

So why publishing? IFT was looking for what Keenan calls "eminent influence" in China, and bringing the association's publications overseas helps "advance the quality standard [in food production] the U.S. would like to see. We're very interested in seeing globally harmonized standards."

But establishing a foothold demanded patience. IFT began talking with its Chinese counterpart, the Chinese Institute of Food Science and Technology, in 2006. But the first issue of Global Food Industry, the Chinese analogue to IFT's Food Technology, didn't appear until 2009. Pursuing government approval took time, as did ensuring that IFT retained approval over the magazine's content. (Currently about 30 percent of the content is generated in China.)

The benefit for China: Advertisers are establishing their bona fides. "One of the big challenges for Chinese companies is that the Chinese don't want to buy from Chinese food companies, because of food safety issues," Keenan says.

Today, the magazine is part of a suite of services IFT offers in China, including a biannual summit and a new credential designed to establish a uniform international standard for food technologists. All of which heightens the overall profile of food science and food safety, IFT's ultimate goal.

"Being able to get people to the table relatively easily because they have a relationship with you has been a tremendous benefit," Keenan says. "We want to see the name 'food technology' and the brand of food technology expand."

Mark Athitakis is a contributing editor to Associations Now. Email:

[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "A Win-Win in China."]

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