Rotterdam to host IFAMA conference in 2020

By: Sharon Janmaat 19 Dec, 2018

In June 2020, the 30th edition of the prestigious IFAMA conference will take place in Rotterdam. In September this year, alderman Barbara Kathmann signed the agreement with the organisation. The IFAMA (International Food and Agribusiness Management Association) investigates the future prospects of the global food and agribusiness system. The results are shared at the IFAMA conference, which takes place each year at a different location in the world. At the conference, the IFAMA, in collaboration with the host city, brings businesses, academics, students and governments together with other stakeholders from the food sector.

Attracting young talent strengthens businesses’ innovative power

Sharon Janmaat, Project Manager at Rotterdam Food Cluster, played an important role in attracting the IFAMA to Rotterdam. In this interview, she talks about the IFAMA conference in Rotterdam and the opportunities that this conference offers to the business community. ‘With the most complete food cluster and the international nature of the businesses in the Rotterdam region, Rotterdam is the place to celebrate this anniversary’, Sharon Janmaat indicates. ‘The focus of the conference in Rotterdam is on research and education. Businesses are always looking for new talent with fresh ideas and working methods. By attracting this talent, businesses strengthen their innovative power so that they remain ahead of the market. The presence of talent is therefore an important condition for companies to set up in business. Rotterdam is full of talent, but not all of this talent knows how to make its way into this wonderful sector. The IFAMA is certainly going to contribute to the visibility of the food sector, both in our country and internationally.’

IFAMA: international platform for regional food businesses

The Rotterdam Food Cluster guides businesses in their transition to a new economy. To quote Sharon Janmaat: ‘Our aim is to increase businesses’ earning capacity, thereby creating more jobs. Digitisation, automation and sustainability are making it essential for businesses in the Rotterdam Food Cluster to change. We want to guide them in this transition, and this requires broad-based research. Given the international nature of the businesses in our region, an international perspective on this transition is required.
The IFAMA offers an international academic network in which issues are interpreted from various angles. Furthermore, the IFAMA offers a platform to position the food sector in our region internationally as an employer with plenty of career prospects and as an important business partner. A representative from the Rotterdam Food Cluster will join the IFAMA’s International Board. This will enable us to help determine the course and themes for 2020.’


Future-oriented issues for young talent

Janmaat confirms that the educational component will be very important at the IFAMA conference 2020. ‘The issues are future-oriented and we notice that businesses are increasingly looking for young talents who can help their organisation. We really see the IFAMA as a forum for the future. We want to attract not only international academics, but also secondary vocational education (MBO) students and higher professional education (HBO) students from our own region. The IFAMA stands out because it activates a young community’, says Janmaat. Each year, a student case competition is held for students, PhD students and young professionals. Teams are brought in from all over the world to tackle a specific business issue. In previous years, there was one competition with one winner on each of the levels. As Janmaat explains, the approach will be very different in 2020: ‘We want to hold a separate case competition each day. This way, we generate more involvement from the young talents in the issues and components of the conference. Besides the case competition, we want to make the conference appealing to students by organising extra activities such as speed dating, careers fairs, poster presentations and having the students blog and vlog. In addition, students have free admission and only pay for their IFAMA membership. We therefore expect a larger intake and we’re counting on 1,000 students.’

Major role for businesses in IFAMA Rotterdam

Businesses will have the opportunity to participate in the IFAMA conference programme. Janmaat on the role of businesses: ‘They can shape part of the educational component by giving assignments to students. On each day of the programme, there are forums where businesses can present themselves and organise symposia with their own speakers. In this way, they help direct the message to the network and link their name to a specific subject. The IFAMA offers young professionals from businesses extensive knowledge, an international network, a challenge and an opportunity to broaden their horizons. The young professionals work on the student case competition in international multidisciplinary teams. Last year, a number of HortiHeroes talents from the Netherlands worked together on the student case competition with young professionals from Canada, South Africa and Australia.

'We notice that businesses are increasingly looking for young talents who can help their organisation. We really see the IFAMA as a forum for the future.'

Sharon Janmaat Projectmanager at Rotterdam Food Cluster

More information about IFAMA Rotterdam

‘We’ve hit the ground running. Substantive preparation will remain the focus over the coming period’, says Janmaat. ‘Defining the research lines, involving stakeholders and drawing up a communication strategy are a few examples of the preparation that needs to be done. The IFAMA is also busy organising the IFAMA conference 2019, which will take place in Hangzhou, China in June. One thing’s for sure: you’ll be hearing much more about IFAMA Rotterdam throughout 2019. Watch this space!’


The IFAMA (International Food and Agribusiness Management Association) brings businesses, academics and governments together with other stakeholders from the industry and investigates the future prospects of the global food and agribusiness system. Members from across the whole world, including leading businesses, universities, graduates, students, policy makers, NGOs and consumer organisations, regularly meet to address strategic issues and come up with innovative solutions to the changing needs within the agri-food sector.

Contributing to IFAMA Rotterdam?

If you would like to contribute to the IFAMA Rotterdam conference in 2020, please contact Sharon Janmaat for more information.

Contact Sharon Janmaat