Dogwood IFT Food Industry Expo
October 30, 2018• Cabarrus Arena & Event Center• Concord, NC
Seminar Sessions


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Robert Price, President, Dogwood Section IFT

Biological Research Technician at USDA-ARS

Investments in Food Tech - Beneficial for the Industry?
Food Processing and Innovation Center (FPIC)

Bill Aimutis, Director
North Carolina Food Innovation Lab (NC-FIL).

A partnership between the NC Department of Agriculture,
NC State University and the NC Research Campus (NCRC)

The food industry is experiencing tremendous growth by venture capital today, but will these investments meet the goals of the investors?  The energy boom a decade ago demonstrated how investments can fail if the industry is not well understood by those investing.  Are we setting up the food industry for a similar failure?

Bill is currently the Director for the North Carolina Food Innovation Lab (NC-FIL). b in Kannapolis, NC.  Previously he was the Global Director of External Innovation for Cargill, Inc.  An Indiana native, Bill received a Bachelor of Science degree in Food Science at Purdue University and graduate degrees from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in the Food Science Department.  Bill has held several research and operations leadership and management positions in his career. Bill is a Fellow of the American Dairy Science Association, and a Distinguished Agricultural Alumnus from both Purdue University and Virginia Tech.  Additionally, he was awarded an Outstanding Food Science Award from the Food Science Department at Purdue University.  Aimutis has been invited to speak at numerous meetings about innovation and investments in the agriculture and food industries.  Aimutis also serves on industry advisory committees for Agricultural Engineering (Penn State University), Food Science (Virginia Tech University), the Agriculture Innovation Forum (Larta), and the University of Illinois’ Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory.

Plant Proteins: Moving to the Center of the Plate
Rody Hawkins, Ph.D., President & Chief Executive Officer
Improved Nature LLC

The global plant based meat market is about $4.6 billion with an annual growth rate of 6.8%.  This demand has created frozen “Plant Protein” sections in most supermarkets and now they are moving to the refrigerated case.  While these products are getting closer to meat, can they replace meat for flavor, nutrition, versatility, and texture?  The answer is yes and this is what we are doing every day at Improved Nature.  

Dr. Rody Hawkins has over 30 years of experience with developing and implementing new food products and solving complex problems for many large, medium and small food companies. He has done contract work for over 100 different food companies and he worked for two of the largest US food companies: Oscar Mayer Foods, a division of Kraft-Heinz and ConAgra Foods. For Oscar Mayer in the 1980s he created the concept and product known as “Lunchables” and for ConAgra in the late 1980s through the 1990s he developed the technology that led to the growth of the meat snack market.  Using this knowledge, he developed shelf stable rations for the US Military, NATO Militaries, and UN feeding programs.

Now, Rody and his business partners have turned their attention on developing and implementing new food products from plants.  Improved Nature was established in 2014 and has a proprietary technology that allows it to make fibers out of plant protein.  These fibers are formed together to make various shapes that have the texture, taste, look, nutritional profile, cooking parameters, and eating sensation as meat and fish products.  This technology is so flexible, efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective that it can seamlessly replace meat products without giving up any of its perceived benefits.

11:45                                                                   Lunch

FDA Updates on FSMA Implementation

Jennifer Thomas, Interim Director for FSMA Operations

FDA/Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

FDA has developed a three step strategy for FSMA implementation. The first stage was establishing standards for the seven regulations, industry guidance and policy. The second phase was design of strategies to promote industry compliance. The third step is the actual implementation, monitoring, evaluation and updates to the standards and strategies for complinance. This presentation will focus on current FDA updates on FSMA implementation.

Jennifer Thomas works for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), Office of Compliance, where she is the Director of the Compliance Policy Staff.  She is currently serving as the Interim Associate Director for FSMA Operations for CFSAN.  Prior to her current role, Ms. Thomas worked in FDA in different capacities related to compliance and enforcement, including CFSAN’s Office of Compliance/Division of Enforcement and the Office of Regulatory Affairs/Baltimore District Office

Industry/Regulatory Panel Discussion on
Food Innovation and FSMA Implementation
 Moderator: Chris Gunter, Vegetable Production Specialist & Professor, NC State University

Anita MacMullan, NC Dept. of Agriculture Food & Drug Protection Division   
     Debbie Hamrick, Director of Specialty Crops, NC Farm Bureau
Austin Westenhofer, Director of Innovation, BestCo, Inc.
  Maya Zuniga, Supply Chain Optimization and Technical Expert, S&D Coffee