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  • 27 Nov 2017 12:00 PM | Deleted user

    Data Analytics In The Food And Beverage Industry 

    In this episode of Food for thought: Data analytics in the food and beverage industry, Chris Moshier of Plante Moran and Steve Gaither, president of JB Chicago, discuss using in-store data to create timely, actionable insights and increase profitability.

    Topics covered include:

    • The hurdles of maximizing value in operational data
    • How to apply your wealth of data to optimize your marketing strategies

    Want to listen to this podcast? Click here

  • 24 Nov 2017 12:30 PM | Deleted user

    View the video here

  • 24 Nov 2017 12:00 PM | Deleted user

    Martha Blum AgriNews Publications Nov 16, 2017

    CHICAGO — Students will be the ones charting the course for the future of the agriculture and food industry.

    “The food and beverage industry is changing rapidly, and answers probably won’t be found by the adults in this room. It will be the students,” said Alan Reed, Chicagoland Food and Beverage Network executive director.

    “Food and beverage is a massive part of our economy, and it’s one of the things Chicago is best known for,” Reed said during the Sowing the Seeds: Chicago’s Leadership in Food and Agricultural Education event held at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences.

    “Companies come here for the talent that’s here,” he said. “There are 4,500 companies and 130,000 people here just in food manufacturing, which results in a $32 billion gross domestic product.”

    The Chicagoland Food and Beverage Network was launched about six months ago with the mission to bring together the food and beverage industry of the area.

    “The network was started because the MacArthur Foundation was looking for an inclusive industry to invest to grow the economy,” Reed explained. “They found that not only Chicago food and beverage has great prospects because everyone has to eat, but also the jobs with food and beverage range all the way from entry level to white collar jobs.”

    Panel members representing Chicago’s leadership in food and agriculture education provided the following comments during the event.

    Read the entire article here.

  • 16 Nov 2017 12:00 PM | Deleted user

    The Chicagoland Food and Beverage Network is highlighted in this paper prepared for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, discussing inclusive economic growth and cluster organizations. The bottom line is that "new approaches to economic development must be and are emerging to fit the dynamics of the new economy and that inclusive growth must be an organizing principle informing successful transformative economies." One of the authors is CFBN Founder Robert Weissbourd.

    Read the entire paper here

  • 14 Nov 2017 12:00 PM | Deleted user

    Kellogg’s venture capital arm to invest ‘very broadly’ in food categories

    13-Nov-2017 By Douglas Yu

    Kellogg’s venture capital fund, eighteen94 Capital, is planning to invest in various food categories around sustainability and functional ingredients next year.

    You can read the entire article here.

  • 12 Nov 2017 12:00 PM | Deleted user

    At our November 9 Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network Innovation Breakfast, 90+ industry attendees learned about this new tool: ‘corporate venturing’. Companies like Tyson Foods and The Kellogg Company started their own funds to explore innovation externally.  This creates an opportunity for food and beverage start-ups to bring their innovation and work directly with large food and beverage companies.

    Many in the audience wondered, why would these large companies invest in outside companies? The Tyson and Kellogg panelists told us that food disruption will continue and that sometimes larger corporations like theirs cannot see food trends as quickly as smaller companies. That’s why these funds were created.

    “For example, it’s a fact that we need 60-70% more protein to feed the world by 2050. That’s why we just made a deal with Beyond Meat, an alternative animal protein,” says Tyson Ventures’ Justin Whitmore. Tyson launched its $150M venture fund in April 2017. “We will have more deals by this time next year, ones that fit our mission to grow our focus areas of sustainability, less food waste, and the internet of foods.”

    And for both companies, it’s not just about the money they can bring to the table. “We want to know what Kellogg can bring to the party. Does the startup just need funding? Or are they seeking product experts, marketing, or procurement experts,” said Simon Burton from The Kellogg Company’s venture fund, Eighteen94. “We want to help these start-ups unleash all of their talent by using our talent.” Kellogg’s fund is 18-months old and is worth $100M, Simon adds, “For now it’s $100M. We may increase the amount. It’s all so new.”

    Also on the panel, Michael Schopin. A partner at Zenfinity Capital, he works with food start ups. Being from Chicago he’s seen a lot of change in our region’s food & beverage landscape. “In Chicago we have a lot of early businesses that need seed money. And on the flip side we have a lot of huge companies. We have very few $10M-$50M food and beverage companies here.” Schopin adds, “My fund seeks out wise entrepreneurs with a good work ethic, specifically one that wants to grow their $10M company into a $50M company.”

    The event’s hour-long discussion also touched on how research and development helps these teams find new ventures to invest in, as well as the power of networking early.

    All three did agree that every startup needs to go with the best partner, not the most money. “What are you looking for in a partner? Is your new partner as excited as you are about your product? Having these internal conversations is key,” adds Whitmore.

  • 8 Nov 2017 12:00 PM | Deleted user

    CHICAGO – Nov. 6, 2017 – Freeborn & Peters LLP is pleased to announce that Partner John Shapiro is the recipient of the 2017 Leadership Excellence in the Law Award bestowed by the National Diversity Council and the Illinois Diversity Council. He received the award at the Councils’ 4th Annual Illinois Leadership Conference, held October 31. As part of the recognition, Mr. Shapiro also participated in a discussion on building high-performance teams.

    “I am grateful for this recognition,” Mr. Shapiro said. “I plan to continue to invest my time in work that improves the lives of those from diverse populations, focusing particularly on the underserved and others in need.”

    The Leadership Excellence in the Law Award recognizes attorneys who have distinguished themselves through their leadership, resolve, and outstanding achievements for the benefit of their clients and their communities. Among other criteria by which the councils evaluate nominees for the award, the attorney must receive a high degree of peer recognition for leadership excellence and professional knowledge; exemplify a noteworthy commitment to fairness, equity and justice in client representations and professional collaborations; maintain a superior level of integrity and dignity across the full spectrum of legal dealings and responsibilities; and demonstrate commitment to pro bono and community service.

    Mr. Shapiro is a Partner in Freeborn’s Complex Litigation Practice Group and is Co-Chair of the firm’s Food Industry Team. He also serves as Chair of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee and as a member of its Diversity and Inclusion Committee and its Professional Review Committee. In addition, Mr. Shapiro serves as general counsel of Inspiration Corporation, a Chicago-based nonprofit that helps people who are affected by homelessness and poverty to improve their lives and self-sufficiency through the provision of employment training and placement, housing and other social services. In his most recent role, Mr. Shapiro is a member of the Board of Directors of Chicagoland Food and Beverage Network, a new non-profit focused on creating a collaborative working environment for food and beverage manufacturers to, among other initiatives, drive inclusive economic growth and workforce development in Chicago area communities in need. Chicagoland Food’s mission is to turn the Chicago into the Silicon Valley of the food and beverage industry in a way that benefits community members through career development and employment opportunities and bolsters communities through economic development.

    The National Diversity Council is the first non-profit organization to bring together the private, public and non-profit sectors to discuss the many dimensions and benefits of a multicultural environment. For more information about the 4th Annual Illinois Leadership Conference, visit

    ABOUT FREEBORN & PETERS Freeborn & Peters LLP is a full-service law firm, headquartered in Chicago, with international capabilities and offices in Springfield, Ill.; Richmond, Va.; New York City; and Tampa, Fla. Freeborn is always looking ahead and seeking to find better ways to serve its clients. It takes a proactive approach to ensure its clients are more informed, prepared and able to achieve greater success – not just now, but also in the future. While the firm serves clients across a very broad range of sectors, it has also pioneered an interdisciplinary approach that serves the specific needs of targeted industries.

    Freeborn is a firm that genuinely lives up to its core values of integrity, effectiveness, teamwork, caring and commitment, and embodies them through high standards of client service and responsive action. Its lawyers build close and lasting relationships with clients and are driven to help them achieve their legal and business objectives.

    For more information, please visit

  • 13 Oct 2017 1:00 PM | Deleted user

    Some people dream of owning their own food business. Making it big. But the reality is, very few make it that far.

    During our 100-member Innovation Breakfast event on Oct. 12, we heard from three Chicago-based industry leaders. Each went from startup to booming food business. The founders of PRE Brands, Farmer’s Fridge and Grow Forward provided insight on creating an idea, developing a business plan, implementing a business model, and growing a network (no pun intended).

    Lenny Lebovich, founder and CEO of PRE Brands (, credits his economic education background. This is what helped him recognize the importance of planning. The first step, he says, “is convincing investors to believe in your idea and care about it as much as you do.”

    Luke Saunders, founder and CEO of Farmer’s Fridge (, stated that his past career experience helped him grow the business, specifically when recruiting employees. He said, “Identifying a clear mission and developing a company culture enticed people to come work for us. Chicago has an incredible talent pool. We’re able to find workers that share our core beliefs. We’ve been growing ever since.”

    Jim Murphy, founder of Grow Forward (, drove home this one point: generating revenue is the basis of any business. Generating profits continually helps businesses grow. Whether it’s adding more employees or acquiring a business for vertical integration, investors want to see that their investment is growing.

    The Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network is helping connect food businesses across the industry. “We have all the pieces right here -- talent, packaging, marketing, transportation and more,” says Jeremy Anderson, Chicasgoland Food & Beverage Network Board member, Innovation Breakfast host and co-founder of Fifty Gazelles. “The future will be built by how these pieces are put together, and it starts with who we are connected with.”

    Each panelist told of different times where relationships helped grow their business. A perfect example is from Luke Saunders. He buys tomatoes from Jim Murphy for his Farmer’s Fridge salads. More of these collaborations from food and beverage companies will only help grow our local economy. This specific tomato-salad collaboration proves that Chicago is the place to be for starting and developing a food business.

    In the end, all three food entrepreneurs agreed: Chicago has the resources needed to start and build up a food business. It’s a massive hub in the national food and beverage industry with over 4,500 companies and employing more than 135,000 people.

    Join us at our next event, Sowing The Seeds: Chicago’s Leadership In Food & Agriculture Education on November 6. We will hear from a panel of Chicago government and food leaders, education leaders and food entrepreneurs. How can we funnel more local students into working in the food and beverage industry? Register and find out.

  • 6 Oct 2017 1:00 PM | Deleted user

    2017 is nearly over. And industry eyes are setting their sights on 2018. What new trends will the food & beverage industry bring us in just a few months?

    During our 150-member event at Kendall College on October 4, we heard from two leading industry seers. Food Minds and Technomic did their crystal ball gazing, giving us their findings.

    David Henkes, Senior Principal at Technomic ( embraces these massive transformations within the industry. He notes that the food & beverage industry has changed dramatically in such a short amount of time. In addition, it’s consumers who are driving much of this change.

    Grant Prentice, SVP and Director of Insights for FoodMinds ( added, “Price, taste, and convenience used to account for the majority of the food & beverage marketing equation. Now we see consumers making purchase decisions based on different food values.”

    Consumers are demanding more product transparency, more local food options and more specialty food options. This trend will only continue on in 2018.

    While consumers are driving this change, the industry is correcting course. Especially the national distribution model. National is the opposite of local. The major question is, how can more companies utilize local product more in the making of their national brands?

    Specialty foods and specialization is a multi-faceted issue. In 2018 more than ever, food and beverage companies will realize they cannot be all things to all people. In return, the specialization of industry products will work better for all players. Henkes says, “Having one amazing product done well, is more beneficial than having 8-10 mediocre products.” In addition lines are blurring within the industry. We are seeing more grocery stores building in-store restaurants. Restaurants are minimizing and specializing menu offerings (do less items and do them better). Consumers are responding positively to these non-traditional food trends.

    Embracing non-traditional food trends will be beneficial for consumers and industry players.

    Joins us at our next event, our Innovation Breakfast on October 12. We will hear from a panel of food entrepreneurs. Just how hard is it to bring a new food to market? Register and find out. 

  • 22 Sep 2017 1:00 PM | Deleted user

    The topic of food industry disruption has never as relevant as it is today.

    From recent extreme weather events to Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods - it’s hard to talk about food innovation without discussing the disruption.

    Disruption is a topic Stacie Sopinka of U.S. Foods tackled during our Innovation Breakfast series on September 14. As Vice President of Innovation & Product Development, Sopinka and her team spends their days working on products clients will hopefully buy three or four years from now. Sopinka says all new product development must take into account potential pitfalls. She recognizes these three food disruptors heavily impacting consumer demands today:

    • Weather: Hurricanes Irma and Harvey serve as a reminder of how weather can hugely impact on our industry. From floods to droughts, weather impacts the entire ecosystem and our ability to maintain a constant supply for consumers.
    • Technology: The way people are procuring food is changing. About 60% of U.S. Food’s customer base orders online. Technology requires a more holistic approach - restaurants, retail, etc. We need to evolve our technologies to meet consumer demands.
    • Food Security: Companies are expanding. And when growth occurs, issues arise. Now we’re facing issues on a bigger scale. Issues such as food safety and keeping people informed of potential food issues. We must recognize our role as food safety educators as we continue to scale. Consumers rely on us so they can make informed decisions about what they’re consuming.

    Sopinka was full of real-world answers to many audience questions. You too can join us at our next Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network Innovation Breakfast on October 12. The discussion: Food entrepreneurs,start up investments, and Food 2.0.

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