Abbas is a regionally acclaimed Marketer with experience in Pakistan and across MENA markets. He is known for his passion for growing brands and businesses while leading capability development for his team as well as entire industry.
He is one of the most awarded marketers at Coca-Cola Company having won 3 Global Innovation Awards from the Board of Directors over last two years.
Currently he leads marketing for Pakistan which is among top 20 markets for Coca-Cola globally. He is leading development of core brands about unique purpose, establishing new ways of experiential and digital marketing and inspiring the organization for exponential 10X thinking.
Under Abbas's leadership, Coca-Cola became Marketer of the Year at the Effies in 2018, and had won 10+ awards previously in Campaign Asia, Dragons Asia and PAS.
Abbas led campaigns such as Coke Studio which is the largest digital asset of the Coca-Cola Company globally with 7B+ minutes of watch time. He also designed Coke Fest, which is the largest experiential marketing platform in Asia. He has been leading innovation agenda with brand launches of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, Dasani water, Roar and Cappy over last 3 years.
Abbas is committed to developing capability of his team and the community he lives in. He is marketing capability lead for Coca-Cola Middle East North Africa, with responsibility for 50+ marketers across 24 countries. He is also General Secretary for Pakistan Advertising Council which leads Media Monitoring standards, advertising trainings and government relations on behalf of entire industry. He is also on the board of LUMS (his Alma Mater) Alumni, which provides industry perspective on recruitment of new MBA students as well as providing industry knowledge to graduating MBA classes.
VP Food Safety, Quality and Regulatory Affairs
Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin
Chief Executive Officer
Adeniyi Odugbemi PhD
Global Director of Food safety and Food Defence
Deni currently works as the global director of food safety for one of the largest Agricultural and food commodity companies in the world (Archer Daniels Midland Co). In this role, he oversees human and animal food safety, with a global value chain that includes approximately 450 crop procurement locations, more than 330 food/feed ingredient manufacturing facilities, 62 innovation centers, and the world’s premier crop transportation network. ADM was named the world’s most-admired food-production company by Fortune magazine for three consecutive years: 2009, 2010 and 2011.
With extensive experience in food safety and quality management systems, Dr Odugbemi had previously worked for several companies including, Pepsi bottling, Weston Foods, the Kroger Co and most recently Wayne farms. Dr Odugbemi serves on several professional committees and advisory boards.
VP, Global Business Development
Co-Founder & CEO
Next Gen Foods
Andre Menezes is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Next Gen, a Singapore-based food tech company with a mission to create delicious and satisfying food products, all with the power of plants.
A Brazilian native, Andre has spent his career working in various capacities and multiple countries, creating long-lasting relationships along the way. A passionate learner, he's delved into multiple verticals including energy, private equity, agribusiness, and of course, deeply into the F&B space.
Prior to co-founding Next Gen, Andre served as General Manager of Country Foods Singapore, the largest meat distributor and processor in the country, as well as the company responsible for scaling Impossible Foods from a newcomer on the scene, to a household name in the region. Through this work, he met co-founder, Timo Recker, which led to the idea and establishment of Next Gen in Singapore.
Andre has worked in food and beverage for nearly a decade, including seven years at BRF, the largest poultry exporter in the world, and has risen in recent years to become a pioneer in the plant-based scene in Asia. His knowledge in distribution and processing F&B products has been recognized by leading food tech companies around the world. Andre is driven not only by the mission of Next Gen, but the potential to leave a lasting, positive impact for future generations to come.
Vice President, Research & Development
Glanbia Performance Nutrition
Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network
Andria is a leading Food & Beverage Innovation Executive who has delivered over $2 billion in revenue growth across 7 Fortune 1000 companies in the intensely competitive CPG space.
She has a proven track record of growth in over 60 categories, 20 brands and at top tier food companies like Kellogg, Sara Lee, Keebler, M&M/Mars and Johnsonville.
Andria has built two Innovation Centers of Excellence from scratch and generated over $1 billion in revenue in her roles as Vice President of Innovation & Strategy at Sara Lee and Vice President of Innovation & Consumer Insights at Johnsonville.
At Johnsonville, she built and led operations of a freestanding, independent operating unit focused on generating growth and consumer insights. At Sara Lee, she led the entire food & beverage North America Retail and Foodservice businesses with a $1 billion growth P&L.
Andria shares her validated approach to growth and her wealth of firsthand experience by providing advisory services to companies looking to accelerate growth, serving on the boards of Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network and Matot Inc. and speaking on cutting edge topics in the industry.
Aylon is an expert in the alternative protein industry and has spoken regularly on food innovation at conferences and schools such as Harvard, MIT, Yale, Berkeley, and Stanford. In his work at the Good Food Institute, Aylon incubated dozens of startups and advised investors and strategic partners on the protein alternative space. Aylon has co-founded two startups and has worked with companies such as Kraft Heinz, Nestle, and Kellogg’s.
Director, Product Development
Simmons Pet Food
Co-Founder & COO
Former VP and GM, Coca-Cola Freestyle and Dispensed Innovation
The Coca-Cola Company (Formerly)
Chris Hellmann is the Global Vice President and General Manager, Freestyle Division at The Coca-Cola Company. In this role, he is responsible for leading North America’s Equipment Innovation Center and technical R/D team encompassing strategy, customer and commercial leadership, innovation, equipment & software engineering, supply chain development and e-business to advance the global growth of this vital Company platform. There are currently +50,000 Freestyle dispensers globally and the Equipment Innovaton center operates as a vital innovation hub for The Coca-Cola Company. Chris is responsible for the Freestyle P/L which represents a $1b business for the Coca-Cola Company.
Prior to this role, he was the Global VP leading the SUBWAY Restaurant business overseeing all of the Coca-Cola business and contractual agreements for approximately 45,000 customer outlets in 100 countries. He was responsible for leading sales, marketing, finance and operations as well as managing the Company P/L for this customer business.
Previous to the above role, Chris was Vice President, Global Commercial Execution. In this position, he was focused against the Europe and Eurasia Coca-Cola Business units and was responsible for building Customer Leadership Capabilities for both Bottler and Company associates. He built and deployed The Coca-Cola Modern Trade Customer Management System across the global system.
Chris was previously Marketing Director for Coca-Cola North America, responsible for planning and executing marketing plans for large-scale Coca-Cola Foodservice customers in the Northeast Region. Chris also served as a Segment Marketing Manager, where he was responsible for identifying and developing new opportunities for growth among U.S. customers in the casual dining trade channel. Chris joined Coca-Cola North America as a Marketing Manager and later as Assistant Brand Manager for brands including Minute Maid, PowerAde and Hi-C.
Prior to joining The Coca-Cola Company, Chris held several positions in advertising and marketing, most notably BBDO South, where he was responsible for developing and executing marketing and advertising campaigns.
Chris received a B.S. in Journalism from Ohio University, and a Masters in Marketing from Johns Hopkins University – Carey School of Business.
Senior Executive Chef
Chris grew up in a small town west of Chicago. He started his culinary career at the young age of 14, working in a small local pizzeria. Working in kitchens all throughout school, Chris attended Eastern Illinois University for his undergraduate studies focusing on Foods in Business and soon after graduation started Kendall College’s Culinary Arts Program. During his schooling Chris was introduced to Chef Joel Findlay Chef/Owner of 302 West. 302 West was at its time one of the countries finest restaurants.
Chris apprenticed at 302 and while there met his wife Sarah who was also a Chef. Chef Kline’s other restaurant experiences include, French Bistro, Jazz Supper Club, Private Dining Clubs, Corporate Dining, and numerous Fine Dining/White Table cloth restaurants. Chef’s culinary highlight was being invited to participate at the James Beard House with a Niche’ Restaurant.
After his restaurant career, Chris’s culinary path took another direction, back to the scientific side. Amazed by the manufacturing aspect of the business, Chris took the same approach he learned in the kitchens and started to crave knowledge of the different segments of the business. He then started with a refrigerated Food Company, called Orval Kent / Chef Solutions, where in less than 3 years launched over 85 products throughout North America. Next he packed up his family and moved to Connecticut to work as a Chef / Bakery Product Technologist for R&D team of Pepperidge Farm.
After hundreds of Milano cookies & few years in the Northeast, he then traveled to Florida and worked for Cargill as Strategic Accounts Chef developing sauces and dressing for companies such as Burger King & Applebee’s.
Sara Lee lured Chris back to his hometown of Chicago as a Senior Executive Chef in the winter of 2005. And in 2014 through the acquisition of Hillshire Brand by Tyson is a Tyson Team member leading the Foodservice Culinary Strategy & Execution team.
Chris’s other non-food based obsessions are his two sons (Jack & Luke), guitars & music and a rare form of fly-fishing from Japan called Tenkara.
Live & Eat well.
Vice President of Research & Development
Claire Kerr is Vice President of Research and Development for Bakkavor USA. She oversees the product development strategy for Bakkavor in the US across 5 manufacturing locations, focusing on a number of fresh prepared food categories including meals, hummus, soup, bread and burritos in private label. Bakkavor is a UK-based company with global revenue exceeding $2.4MM annually.
With over 20 years’ experience in fresh prepared foods at Bakkavor, Claire has extensive knowledge associated with short shelf life, clean label foods. She was instrumental in the development of innovative new ranges for top retailers in the UK and leading regional grocers in the US. Claire is passionate about developing high quality fresh prepared food offerings across the US to meet the ever changes demands of retailers and consumers. She is also passionate about passing on her knowledge to the next generation and growing talent.
Claire grew up in a small village in the east of England countryside where there was a tightknit community, those early days of her childhood showed her the importance of family and communities that support each other, which transfer into her working life today. She moved to the US seven years ago with her husband and son. Claire loves to cook and entertain others and travel to new places. She has a weakness for thrifting/antiquing, as ‘there’s always something fun to buy!’, and Claire’s creativity and crafting capabilities are one of a kind.
Clifton Lewis Lyles
Chief Manufacturing and Innovation Officer
Director of R&D Columbus Craft Meats
Halo Top International, DoJo Brands
Doug Bouton is the cofounder of Halo Top, the iconic low-calorie ice cream brand that grew to more than $300 million in sales and became the #1 selling ice cream in the United States, outselling the likes of Ben & Jerry’s, Haagen-Dazs, and Breyers. Halo Top sold its business to Wells Enterprises in September 2019, after which Doug spun out Halo Top’s international operations into Halo Top International where he currently serves as CEO. Halo Top is sold in more than 30 countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia, Chile, Russia, Korea, and China. In 2021, Doug launched Gatsby Chocolate, the first-ever and only low-calorie chocolate brand that’s positioned to disrupt the chocolate and confectionery category much like Halo Top disrupted the ice cream category. Doug studied mathematics and theology in college and, after graduating, he attended law school where he received his law degree.
With a background in Computer Science, Mathematics and Cognitive Science, Henry has worked on a variety of projects that include a machine learning algorithm to classify supernovae for the UC Berkeley Astrophysics department and a patented algorithm that has distributed over $7M in awards to mobile gamers. He is a member of Forbes magazine’s Technology Council and a regular guest in magazines and podcasts on AI and retail innovation. Henry's day-to-day at Halla involves constantly improving the Taste Intelligence machine learning algorithms and leading internal technology operations.
Jeff is nationally acclaimed marketing strategist and speaker, specializing in igniting food and beverage brands. He is best known for helping to create GOT MILK?, widely recognized as one of the best, most influential campaigns in advertising history.
Jeff is a powerful and highly entertaining speaker who uses witty, often hilarious Got Milk? creative to drive home serious, pivotal points about strategic innovation and disruptive ideation. Jeff speaks nationally and internationally on a range of subjects including innovation, ideation, brand potency and on how marketing might help end world hunger. He is currently leading the development of a Food Innovation Center for the state of Utah. An independent consultant, Jeff lives in Northern California, epicenter of food and menu innovation and spawning ground for numerous early stage food brands.
Prior to GOT MILK?, and his position as CEO of the California Milk Processor Board, Jeff had extensive ad agency experience with Grey, Ted Bates, JWT, McCann Erickson and Ketchum. His clients included a range of CPG companies, including P&G, Clorox, Con Agra, Pillsbury and Safeway Stores.
He is considered a leader in association and category marketing and has helped reposition commodities such as beef, eggs, potatoes, dairy, cereal, raisins, strawberries and tart cherries.
Jeff is a prolific writer. He authored GOT MILK? The Book, and continues to write numerous articles on subjects ranging from managing creative resources to marketing non-profits to getting the best service from the service sector.
Juan F. DeVillena
Director of Quality Assurance & Food Safety
Wayne Farms LLC
Mr. DeVillena has been in the poultry industry since 1999, when he started working with the U.S. FDA - Center for Veterinary Medicine, the Food Safety Lab at the University of Maryland and later at Perdue Farms in Georgetown, Delaware. He has been with Wayne Farms LLC for 17+ years. During this time, he has held roles in operations, quality assurance and food safety at various locations. He worked as QA supervisor, QA manager, plant manager and operations manager with Wayne Farms before moving into his current role of Director of Quality Assurance and Food Safety. Mr. DeVillena received his BS in food science and his professional degree in food engineering from Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina in Lima, Peru; and his MS in food science from the University of Maryland. He is currently pursuing his PhD from Texas Tech University and has been a PhD candidate since June 2021. His expected graduation is May 2022.
Head of Innovation, North America
Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer
He is an innovative and resourceful marketing strategist with over 20 years of creating strong consumer brands, driving retail sales and customer acquisition, and improving performance.
Marc is determined to help our communities with local farming using responsible, innovative growing methods that champion the environment.
AeroFarms is on a mission to transform agriculture by building and operating environmentally responsible farms throughout the world to enable local production at scale and nourish our communities with safe, nutritious, and delicious food.
Vice President of Sales, North America
Michael Frankel is Vice President of Sales, North America for Selerant Corporation, a leading global provider of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions for process manufacturers in the food and beverage, personal care and specialty chemical industries. Michael has been with Selerant since 2011 and has over 15 years of highly successful PLM sales experience working with leading global companies to both justify and automate their product development processes. The topic of his presentation on “Analytics Utilization in PLM for Decision Support and Project Visibility" a is critical component of consideration in the extended value of PLM for food manufacturers.
Chief Innovation Officer
Dairy Farmers of America
Chairman and CEO
Nick Desai has been the Chairman and CEO of Snack It Forward since 2013. Snack It Forward, a better-for-you snack company with a focus on plant-basedSnacks, boasts a portfolio of beloved brands including World Peas™ and Sunkist®Snacks. The World Peas™ mission: to help mainstream America eat better by creating “junk food” tasting snacks with more substance. In 2018, World Peas™ launched Peatos®, a crunchy puffed snack that is a new twist on an American classic, with 4 grams of plant-based protein and 3 grams of fiber per delicious serving. Peatos®, typically found in the produce section, are currently available at over 4000 stores nationwide including every store under the Kroger banner as well as Vons, Pavilions and Albertson. In 2016, Desai led the acquisition of World Peas™, a brand focused on premium, better-for-you pulse based (peas, favas, lentils) snacks, available nationally at retailers such as Whole Foods, Target, and Sprouts. Desai spent the next two years leading the formulation of the revolutionary Peatos®snack which includes significant proprietary technology centered around extruding high protein raw materials.Desai entered the food and consumer space in 2011 by leading the acquisition of Energy Club LLC, a snack food manufacturer based in Los Angeles. Before dedicating his career to the snack industry, Desai’s experience spans an extensive background of over twenty-five years of operations, private equity/investment banking, and law. He started his career as an attorney in the entertainment industry and soon migrated into investment banking and after some time as a Vice President and top dealmaker at KPMG Corporate Finance. He also later became a Managing Director at FocalPoint Partners. In 2008, he moved to the private-equity side of the business as a Managing Director at Shackleton Equity Partners, a private-equity firm focused on the lower middle market. Desai has a JD/MBA from Loyola Marymount University, and was a UC Regents Scholar at the University of California, Irvine. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and four children.
Co-founder and CEO, B.Sc.,MBA
Racheli is an executive manager with rich and diverse experience in the Israeli start-up scene both in private and public sector. She is passionate about innovation and making an impact on people’s lives through the judicious use of technology and life sciences.
VP of Research & Development
Vice President Food Safety, Quality and Regulatory
Ray joined Prinova in 2016 to lead the quality programs for the flavor division. The department’s scope then expanded to include leading food safety and regulatory for Prinova USA. Currently, Ray is the Vice President of Food Safety, Quality and Regulatory and serves as a member on the executive team.
His responsibilities include leading global standard councils that develop policies and programs to ensure quality and regulatory compliance, sustainability and a food safety culture.
Before joining Prinova, Ray began his career with FlavorFocus, LCC currently known as Brookside Flavors. He held quality control, operational and R&D resonsibilities and by the end of his tenure he was the head of quality and regulatory affairs. In this role he was responsible food safety, quality assurance, quality control, regulatory and safety.
Ray received a bachelor’s degree in Health Science and minors in Biology, Chemistry, and Physiology from Aurora University, Aurora, Illinois, and a master’s of business administration from Loyola University – Chicago Quinlan School of Business.
Executive Vice President, Solutions & Ingredients
Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition North America
Ryan Smith is Executive Vice President of Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition North America, leading the Solutions & Ingredients Division within the organization. Previously, Ryan held leadership positions at Kerry, AB Mauri, and Coca-Cola Enterprises. With over 20 years of experience in the food and beverage industry-leading cross-functional teams across Sales, Manufacturing, Operations, and R&D, Ryan has a proven track record of results across multiple multi-national organizations. Ryan is a graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and serves on industry and community boards.
As CEO of Halla, Inc. (The Taste Intelligence Company), Spencer Price leads Halla’s strategic vision, growth plan, and value offering, and works to build robust, symbiotic relationships with customers, vendors, and investors. He has been featured in media including The Food Institute, TechCrunch, Entrepreneur, Venture Beat, Today’s Grocer, Total Retail, Grocery Dive, and many more publications. Spencer has been a speaker at Grocery Shop, EuroShop, and The Spoon Customize events. He is also the recipient of a GenNext award from Progressive Grocer magazine, recognizing the best and brightest young leaders of the Grocery Industry.