UC Berkeley supply chain conference promises diverse perspectives on innovation

As UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources gears up for its upcoming conference, “Strategic Perspectives on Innovation in Agrifood Supply Chains”, here is a preview of the topics and speakers who will be presenting at the event. Held from 18 to 20 April in Berkeley, California, the programme will examine the elements that lead to innovation, profitability and sustainability in commodity supply chains across developed and developing countries.

The programme will focus on supply chain innovation by downstream players including retailers, wholesalers and processors and upstream actors including farming companies, input providers and financial institutions. The programme will also highlight the role of policy, government and civil society innovation. Over 20 speakers including industry representatives, NGO practitioners and academic experts, will share their experiences across commodities including grains, horticulture, livestock, seafood, cocoa and sugar.

Perspectives from business leaders

Illustrating downstream innovations, Chad Sokol, regional buyer for Costco Wholesale, will speak about his experience in designing a supply chain for quinoa, a new product offered by the world’s leading retailer. Carl Haussman, former CEO for Bunge Europe and Bunge North America, will discuss the strategies developed by the company to deal with global risks in their supply chains. John Scharffenberger, founder of the Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, (now owned by Hershey’s), will highlight the impact of sustainability labeling in product marketing.

Under upstream innovations in farming and service provision, Jim Lugg will speak about Fresh Express’s “relentless innovation” to deliver high quality packaged lettuce to its consumers, while a panel discussion with Alison Van Eenennaam from UC Davis will examine the impact of CRISPR and other emerging biotechnologies on crop and livestock value chains. John Pandol of Pandol Bros, Inc. will focus on the company’s innovations in procurement and marketing of grapes and blueberries from US and Mexico to Asia and Europe.

Solidaridad on supply chain support

Examining the impact of policy and innovation in agrifood supply chains, Michael Binder from Evonik, the leading German specialty chemicals company, will speak about their efforts to produce animal feed that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Sebastian Teunissen, managing director of Solidaridad North America, will present supply chain innovations with smallholder producers in the cocoa, horticulture and sugar sectors from West Africa and Latin America.

All this and more will be covered at the three-day event on building robust, sustainable and profitable supply chains. Through real world case-studies, panel discussions and networking sessions, participants can look forward to rich multi-sectoral learning along with one-on-one interactions with leaders and practitioners in the sector.

Learn more about the complete agenda here.

Solidaridad is co-sponsoring the conference, which is organized in collaboration with Germany's Food Industry Association (Die Lebensmittelwirtschaft), the Giannini Foundation and Mars, Inc.

Registration is open. For full conference information, visit the conference website.

Watch short one-minute videos by select conference speakers:


Chad Sokol, Costco


Carl Hausmann, Bunge North America (Former)


Prof. Tom Reardon, Michigan State University


Prof. Justus Wesseler, Wageningen University