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Tropical Palm Leaf

Technology / Best Practices

1:00 - 1:20 pm
Automation in a Time of COVID

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Speaker Profile:

Randy May is the Director of Technical Services at Bonduelle Fresh Americas, where he leads his team of Project, Process, and Packaging Engineering to provide technical insights in maximizing the efficiency of the Operations sector while ushering in new technologies and processes. He most recently oversaw the automation of the Bonduelle Fresh America’s BistroTM bowl line, which reduced production line headcount by 40% while maintaining a high threshold of quality and efficiency. Before Bonduelle Fresh America, Randy worked several Industrial Engineering Manager roles for MillerCoors, Mars, Nutrilite, and Nestle. He received a B.S. in Industrial Engineering Technology from Purdue University


         The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the food industry in profound ways, especially those engaged in packaging, processing, preparation, and service. Social distancing, societal concerns and other safety precautions have also hampered the work force’s ability to keep up with demand. In a push towards greater efficiency and scale to meet these fluctuating needs, industry leaders can now look more closely in investing in robotics and automating technologies. Sectors such as agriculture stand to benefit substantially from automation innovation, where irrigation, harvesting and processing have been hampered the most from the shortage of manual labor. These technologies represent promising developments for maintaining and expanding our food supply chains, which in turn would make production safer and supply steadier.

1:20 - 1:40 pm
Food e-commerce and delivery intermediaries: their innovative best practices and rapid development accelerated by COVID as observed in
the US, Europe, Asia, and Latin America

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​Speaker Profile:

Thomas Reardon is a University Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University, Fellow of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA), and Honorary Life Member of the International Association of Agricultural Economists (IAAE). Tom has been at MSU since 1992; IFPRI Research Fellow 1986-1991; Rockefeller Foundation Post-Doc with IFPRI in Burkina Faso 1984-1986; and Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 1984. Tom’s studies the transformation of food value chains: the "e-commerce revolution," the “supermarket revolution,” and the “Quiet Revolution” (the diffusion of SMEs in the midstream of value chains), and their impacts on food industry business strategies, and on farms, consumption/nutrition, and employment in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Tom stayed 21 years in those regions. Tom is in Who’s Who in Economics; was featured on the front page of the New York Times; was the first agri-food economist invitee to the World Economic Forum in Davos; has more than 39,000 citations and H index of 91 in Google Scholar, and ranks in the top 1.4% of the nearly 65,000 economists tracked globally in IDEAS/REPEC.


       The sector of food e-commerce and delivery intermediaries was developing rapidly in the US and Europe and in emerging markets especially in Asia, and Latin America before COVID; the pandemic accelerated their development. Entrepreneurial innovation among food industry actors had started to develop a wide range of innovative business strategies in the decade leading up to the pandemic. This range of innovations initiated and some "on the shelf" were ready to be adapted and developed to address thorny challenges during the pandemic, and help them to pivot more rapidly toward e-commerce in 2020-2021, facilitated by the "co-pivoting" of delivery intermediaries facing consumers and wholesalers facing farmers. Tom discusses these developments and identifies the strategies and best practices used, with a comparative review of cases from the US, Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

1:40 - 2:00 pm
Maintaining talent as the pandemic reshapes
labor demands in the Food Industry


​Speaker Profile:

​Mark Baum currently serves as Chief Collaboration & Commercial Officer for FMI - The Food Industry Association. In this role, Baum engages retailer, manufacturer, supplier, and service provider C-Suite executives to further trading partner collaboration, leading to operational improvements and growth opportunities across all segments of the food retail supply chain. 

Baum is known for his intricate knowledge of almost every aspect of the food, beverage, consumer packaged goods (CPG), and retail industry. He is also recognized as one of the foremost experts in the design, management, and execution of strategic and commercial sales, marketing, and merchandising models across consumer-facing industries. 

Additionally, Baum is a Managing Partner of MARCAT Group, LLC, an advisory firm specializing in the active outdoors marketplace. 


       Join Mark Baum, SVP, Industry Relations and CCO, FMI, to learn about the ‘Future of Work’ and explore the implications for the nature of the work itself, the workforce profile, and the future of the workplace, in the aftermath and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  This topic has far-reaching ramifications for the Food Retail & Consumer Products sector. The session will elevate your knowledge of the Future of Work Consumer Food and Retail Trends, as well as gain and share insights about the Future of Work for industries that are products-based and consumer-facing.

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