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  • Innovation Series: The Plant Based Space

Innovation Series: The Plant Based Space

  • 11 Mar 2021
  • 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM


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Join us for our next event in the 2021 Innovation Series.  The Innovation Series is the longest running series in CFBN's programming - originated in partnership with Fifty Gazelles as our opening offering via the "Innovation Breakfasts" originally hosted at Blue Dog in the West Loop.  Today, this virtual series tackles a series of innovation topics of interest to all of us in the food and beverage industry.  Our attendees join us every other month on the second Thursday to explore where food is headed, what companies are making a true impact in the market, and who is helping to change the way we all do business!

Upcoming Events & Conversations:

  • Thursday, March 11th (11 am - 1 pm CT):  The Plant Based Space
  • Thursday, May 13th: The Sustainability Conference
  • Thursday, July 8th:  Taste & Trends
  • Thursday, September 9th:  Technology Innovations
  • Thursday, November 11th:  State of the Industry (Next Generation Leaders)

The Plant Based Space

Opening Conversation: What's next for food's most vibrant growth market?

Impossible Foods raised $200 million in 2020 at a valuation of over $4 Billion.  Is this insanity or a massive trend you can’t miss?   Come hear three panelists at the forefront of plant-based foods talk about the innovation imperatives for the industry and where they see the next wave of growth. 

Our opening panel features:

Tom Mastrobuoni, Chief Investment Officer at Big Idea Ventures

Tom Mastrobuoni is the Chief Investment Officer at Big Idea Ventures, a venture capital fund solving the world’s biggest challenges by supporting the world’s best entrepreneurs. One of the ways Tom is doing just that is through The New Protein Fund, Big Idea Venture’s first fund that invests in the most innovative companies working on plant-based and cell-based meat, seafood, and dairy products, as well as ingredients and technologies that facilitate the growth of these categories. Tom has held numerous board positions with innovative food companies, including Chief Financial Officer of Chicago’s own Tyson Ventures. Tom is tackling the question of “what’s next” in the plant-based space head on!

Andrew Levitt, Founder & CEO at The Purple Carrot 

Andy Levitt is the Founder & CEO of The Purple Carrot, the first and only 100% plant-based meal company. While many have been focused on making plant-based food taste good, Andy is making sure there is a platform to share delicious plant-based foods with the world. The Purple Carrot makes it fun and easy for consumers to prepare and eat healthy, great-tasting plant-based meals at home. Andy earned his MBA from The Stern School of Business at New York University, and his undergraduate degree from Emory University.

David Ervin, VP & General Manager Alternative Protein at Tyson Foods

David Ervin joined Tyson Foods in 2012 and leads the company’s Alternative Protein business. He led the development and launch of the company’s first plant-based protein brand, Raised & Rooted in 2019. Prior to his current role, he led the Marketing Services organization and was Vice President of Innovation. Before joining Tyson, David began his career in marketing research at Kraft Foods. After several years in research and corporate marketing, he worked in traditional brand management for 10 years on a variety of brands, including Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Kraft salad dressing, Stove Top, Minute Rice, Kraft Pasta Salad, and Good Seasons. He also worked to develop small businesses during his time with DOM Capital where he identified investments in new consumer-based opportunities in Food and Beverage working on the boards of small quick serve restaurants to drive impact. David received a B.S. in Communications and Economics and a M.S. in Marketing from Northwestern University. He is a husband, father of three boys, a trained cook, and a culinary inspired eater.

Jeremy Anderson (Moderator), Founder at Fifty Gazelles

    Jeremy is a business development professional with a passion for getting new ideas into market.  Fifty Gazelles’ practice focuses on building long-term contract manufacturing partnerships and adding capacity and external expertise to commercialization teams.

    Following our OPENING PANEL, we are excited to offer several options for featured break-out presentations:

    The Language Dilemma

    The language around plant based has gotten complicated.  Companies are now tasked with the challenge of communicating with consumers what a product is AND how it is different from the traditional formats we all recognize.  From meats to milks, drinks to new innovations let’s take a look at how companies are choosing their words carefully.


    The plant based space is no longer just an ALTERNATIVE space or channel to traditional categories (proteins, beverages, snacks, etc.,.).  Join us to explore how companies are using innovation and new technologies to help products stand on their own ground.

      The Next Big Thing:  Trends in the plant based space

      Join us to explore trends in the plant based space from our experts.  Dare we ask...what is the next big thing in the category?  Let’s take a look at CPG, foodservice, and beyond to explore what 2021 holds.

      MISSION vs. NUTRITION:  Who is shaping the new plant based message?

      Better for you, better for the planet, or a combination of the above?  How is the message behind plant based products changing and being shaped by founders, companies, and the direct connection they are building with a demanding class of consumers - join us to explore!


      CFBN Vice Chairwoman Laurette Rondenet, President & CEO of The Edlong Corporation, will also be hosting a networking table during the event - stop by to network with Laurette and your fellow attendees!

      Our Master Agenda for the day's event:

      • 11:00 AM:  General Welcome (Alan Reed, CFBN)

      • 11:05 AM - 12:00 PM:   Opening Conversation, Moderated by Jeremy Anderson, Fifty Gazelles

      • 12:05 PM - 12:45 PM:  Breakout Presentations (30-40 mins each - run concurrently)

      • 12:15 PM - 12:45 PM:   Expo/Networking Spaces Open

      • 1:00 PM - EVENT CLOSES

      The Innovation Series is a 6-part virtual event series, we appreciate the support of our primary partner and CFBN member in developing this series:

      We also appreciate the support and collaboration of our sponsors for this event:

      Missed an Event?

      Don't worry!  All previous events in the Innovation Series are available for viewing in our Virtual Content Library - FREE to all CFBN Members!


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