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The Future Food 21 Conference Webinar Series is an opportunity for food processors, suppliers, economic developers, and other supporters to hear from leading industry executives, government leaders, and technology experts about the latest trends in the 21st Century food processing sector.  Don’t miss this opportunity to get the latest information and network with your peers by registering today. 



Due to the dynamic nature of the pandemic, The West Michigan Food Processing Association (WMFPA) is moving the Future Food 21 conference from a “live, in-person” event to a virtual webinar series beginning on Friday, September 24, 2021, the same date of our original schedule at Muskegon Community College (MCC). The agenda will be the same. The same speakers. The same knowledge-filled sessions. The difference is we will be hosting a series of one-hour webinars starting with the kickoff event on September 24 at 9:00 a.m. followed by webinars covering each of our planned breakout blocks and sessions in the weeks ahead. 

These webinars will be known as Hot Topic Fridays and Technology Tuesdays beginning with a general kick off event on September 24, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. featuring Todd DeKryger, Ph.D, Regional Supplier Development Manager - Agriculture at Nestlé Nutrition North America (Gerber) as the keynote speaker along with other special guests.   The breakout webinar sessions will be held at 9:00 a.m. each time as noted in the following schedule (dates subject to change depending on final schedule): 

Technology Tuesdays:   October 12 and 26; November 9 and 23; December 14

Hot Topic Fridays: October 1 and 15; November 5 and 19; December 3 and 17 

If you already registered for the live event, there is no additional cost.  If you haven’t registered, there is a one-time charge of $15.00. You can link into all the webinars or just one.   It’s up to you, but we know you will be getting great insights about the food processing sector from among the best experts in Michigan. The link for each webinar will be shared with those who are already registered or register in the future.

The COVID 19 pandemic was and continues to be one of the most significant challenges the food processing industry has ever faced with respect to employee health, supply chain and logistics, and consumer wants and needs among other issues.


Our webinar series does not get into the details of the pandemic situation but touches on many of the ramifications and impacts the issue has and continues to have on the food processing industry.   


Trends that were apparent before the pandemic such as consumer preferences for healthier food have grown stronger. For example, Ms. Paula Martin, a culinary medicine expert from the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities will offer insight into what food processors should know how to meet these changing consumers’ preferences. More importantly, the impact food processors can have on people’s health and well-being by shifting to healthier, clean label processing.   Other speakers from Michigan State University will address how shifting to healthier food products can lead to success.   

Other trends that were apparent before the pandemic and continue to be front and center today revolve around more sustainable business practices that not only have a positive impact on the environment, but also the bottom line. Energy efficiency and renewable energy, waste reduction, and sustainable packaging are also branding opportunities with many consumers making purchasing decisions predicated on how sustainable a food processor company is.   

The Future Food 21 conference will feature key speakers that address these sustainability issues such as Mr Tom Manske, the Director of External Partnerships-Sustainable Packaging Innovation from the Kellogg Company; a speaker from the Michigan Israel Business Accelerator who will review advancements in Israeli packaging technology; a sustainable energy asset manager from Generate Capital that owns the Fremont Regional Digester, and experts from utility companies that will offer insights about achieving more energy-efficient operations or using alternative energy sources to achieve sustainability goals.   

But that’s not all, other key topics will feature speakers that will cover the latest trends in workforce and housing issues within the food processing sector, as well as supply chain and logistics. As for future technology, an executive from Michigan-based Somnio Global will discuss how their technology is a game-changer for the sector by extending the shelf life of fresh produce for both transportation and cold storage. A truly “made in Michigan” story.   The webinar series will also feature an executive from a leading Canadian company that has developed QA/QC technology to keep on top of the shelf life of food products to reduce spoilage and increase profits.  

Kickoff Webinar
Marty Gerencer
Executive Director, West Michigan Food Processing Assn (WMFPA)
Katie Hensley
WMFPA Board Chair, CFO, Swanson Pickle Co, Inc.
Bill Huizenga
Congressman 2nd District
Gary McDowell
Director, Michigan Department of Agriculture
Todd DeKryger, Ph.D.
Regional Supplier Development Manager – Agriculture, Nestle Nutrition North America (Gerber)
Lindsay Hager
Vice President and Chief Philanthropy Officer, Fremont Area Community Foundation
Series Schedule
Webinar Kickoff Event
September 24


Marty Gerencer, WMFPA

Multiple Speakers

Bill Huizenga, Gary McDowell, Todd DeKryger, Ph.D., Lindsay Hager

Food and Agriculture Workforce and Housing Overview
October 1
Hot Topic Fridays

Ashley Batteen

Recruitment, Professional Development, and DEI Officer, MDARD

Joseph Rivet

Deputy Director, MDARD

New Innovations in Food Production & Processing
October 12
Technology Tuesdays

Dan Radomski

Director, Centropolis Accelerator at Lawrence Tech University

Case Study Examples


Food Waste Recycling-Zero Waste to Landfill Goals
October 15
Hot Topic Fridays

Matt Goodman

Asset Management, Generate Capital



Produce Shelf-Life Extension Using Cold Plasma Technology
October 26
Technology Tuesdays

Tejasvi Chunduri

Technical Leader, Somnio Global



Supply Chain Challenges
November 5
Hot Topic Fridays

Bill Knudson

Agricultural Economist, MSU Product Center

Scott Hermann

Director – Operations, Cherry Capital Foods/Tamarack Holdings

Sustainable Packaging
November 9
Technology Tuesdays

Bernard Bourgeois

Director, Ecosystem Development at Michigan Israel Business Accelerator

Tom Manske & Shannon Moore

Director of External Partnerships - Sustainable Packaging Innovation; Led Packaging Engineer; Kellog Company

Food as Medicine
November 19
Hot Topic Fridays

Paula Martin, MS, RDN

Community Nutrition Policy Specialist, Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities

Brandon Seng

Owner, Michigan Farm to Freezer

Advanced Food Growing Technology
November 23
Technology Tuesdays

Mitch Schaffer

Financial Services Officer, GreenStone Farm Credit Services

Tim Vogelzang

CFO, Revolution Farms

Opportunities in Healthy Food Processing
December 3
Hot Topic Fridays

Jamie Rahrig, MPH, RDN

Michigan Good Food Fund Specialist, Innovation Counselor



Energy Waste Reduction in Food Processing
December 14
Technology Tuesdays

Duane Watson

Agriculture Program Specialist/Energy Advisor at Consumers Energy

Jerry Zolkowski

Principal Engineer at DNV GL

Series Sponsors

Signature Sponsors $25,000

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Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber.png

Gold Sponsors $15,000

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Platinum Sponsors $10,000

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Sponsors $5,000

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Friends $2,500

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