World Food Distribution Certification an Option to A&M International Students

University students interested in complementing their studies with special training may consider earning a certification in world food distribution at Texas A&M International University.

This certification program, which utilizes resources of five universities in The Texas A&M University System, provides students with an opportunity to learn about the food distribution business and career opportunities in the food industry.

Classes include marketing channels, food logistics, principles of transportation, international trade and agribusiness, corporate finance, and a seminar in world food distribution. A business internship in transportation and logistics is also required. Students must be enrolled in a degree program before applying for this certification program.

Dr. Michael Patrick, A&M International professor of economics, said the program is part of a cooperative program of The Texas A&M University System and utilizes the resources of Prairie View A&M University, Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Texas A&M University- Commerce and A&M International.

The program's goal is to prepare graduates to serve in management positions in world food and fiber distribution industries as well as the private sector, trade associations and government agencies.

"World trade is exploding, just as that of Mexico and the United States, and there is a tremendous need for trained personnel to facilitate the movement of goods," Dr. Patrick said, "World food distribution is an emerging field. There have always been opportunities in this field, but with the growth in world trade, the demand for personnel has increased phenomenally."

Like Patrick, Dr. Wallace Migura, director of the World Food Distribution Center at Prairie View A&M University, said there is a need for more professionals in the food distribution industry.

"There is enough of a food supply in the world to satisfy all of our food needs but somewhere between the gate and the plate - that is, production of food and consumption - there is a need for increased professional management to see that all of the different phases of food distribution are handled professionally and efficiently," Dr. Migura said.

The certification prepares students for jobs as managers and supervisors in transportation, warehousing and distribution for food manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing firms. Public sector careers open to graduates include positions as marketing, transportation or program management specialists as well as market and program analyst positions for state, federal or international agencies.

The seminar includes site visits to regional food distribution operations and presentations by professionals from agribusiness firms, trade associations and federal and state agencies, Migura said.

"We visit companies that normally do not grant public tours such as Anheiser Busch and Uncle Ben's. Students also get the opportunity to network with industry professionals through these tours," he said.

Also, the certification program covers topics beyond freight forwarding and custom brokerage, Patrick said.

"Students who graduate from this program will also be equipped with necessary information that will allow them to provide leadership in new market development," Patrick said.

Multilingual students have a distinct advantage and are encouraged to enroll in the program, Patrick said.

"Anyone who can speak more than one language and can do business in another culture has an advantage because business has gone global," Patrick said.

Migura said minority professionals are under-represented and are much-needed in the food distribution field.

"It all comes down to the question of diversity. Forward looking companies recognize the benefit of having different people working on their staff who bring a wealth of experience from all phases of life," he said.

Early registration for the Spring 2000 semester will be held Nov. 8-19 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Regular registration will be held Jan. 10 from 1-7 p.m. and Jan. 11 from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

For further information, please contact Dr. Patrick at 326-2546. University office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu