Santa Clara University

Food & Agribusiness Institute

Food & Agribusiness Institute

Food & Agribusiness Blog for news, events, announcements, and more.

  •  FoodCrunch: Innovation You Can Taste

    In the Silicon Valley, it feels as though the tech industry churns out innovations faster than we can we can say "iPhone." But tech isn't the only industry innovating here in California.

    The Food & Agribusiness Institute has teamed up with Beta Gamma Sigma, international honor society in business, to host FoodCrunch: Innovation You Can Taste, which will profile entrepreneurial growth and major investments in California's food industry.

    Food Crunch--which will take place April 30th in the Forbes Family Conference Room--will start with a panel discussion and move to a networking and sampling fair. The panel will feature industry movers and shakers who are pushing the sustainable food movement to new ground. Organic and local foods are great, but who are the visionaries setting out to transform the industry as we know it? What is the healthy, cost-efficient meal of the future? What does a profitable, sustainable food company look like?

    We are pulling together companies, investors, and all-around novel-thinkers who are disrupting the food industry to outline how they develop their innovative products, obtain funding, and spread the word to a target market. Panel speakers will include Roger Royse or AgTech Incubator, supporting innovation on Silicon Valley farms; Dan Zigmond, using data to help Hampton Creek identify meat and dairy replacing plant proteins; and Kate Danaher of RSF Finance, promoting social entrepreneurs in sustainable food and agriculture; Harvindar Singh, foraging for innovative local food products to retail at Whole Foods Market; and Eric Quick, CEO of Froovie, delivering organic, nutritious drinks to retail markets.

    The networking and sampling fair following the panel will give students an opportunity to further explore their curiosity about the innovations in the industry and taste a selection of these thoughtful products. FAI, BGS, and the companies and individuals collaborating with us for the event are excited to share their ideas and spark more creativity in the industry.


    Written by Jenna Herzog

  •  The FAI's New Graduate Program

    We're excited to announce that the Food and Agribusiness Institute has submitted a proposal for a Master of Science degree program in Food Industry Management. The program, if approved by the Santa Clara University trustees in May, will commence in June 2016. The program will be 47 units and four quarters in length. All students will be required to complete an internship in the food industry. The program is envisioned as a fifth year master’s degree for students with little or no work experience. We anticipate recruiting students primarily from Cal State Universities, UC Davis and Santa Clara University. The program will begin with five students and grow each year.  

    To gauge interest in the MS, FAI held an "ideathon" in January with 20 members of the food industry, FAI affiliated faculty and a few students. We had a very productive conversation about the most important non-curricular aspects of the program as well as critical subject areas we should cover in our courses. Members of the FAI staff interviewed more than 25 alumni and industry specialists and Greg Baker and Erika French-Arnold visited Cal Poly- San Luis Obispo, Chico State and Fresno State to talk to faculty and students about their interest in the program. Finally, we surveyed students and faculty from Cal Poly, Chico State and Fresno State and received over 100 responses! Most students expressed interest in a program and they gave great feedback about the kinds of courses and experiences they would like to see in our MS.

    Specific food industry courses will include Food Industry Operations; Supply Chain and Quality Management; Food Marketing; Food Nutrition and Safety and Food Industry Innovations. Students will also take several other business courses and complete food industry leadership and capstone requirements.

    The Food Industry Management program will be the only one of its kind in the United States. While other universities offer food and agribusiness, agricultural economics or food marketing MS degrees, FAI will be the only school with a food industry management degree. The focus of the program will primarily include California agriculture but we anticipate including sections on international food industries as well

  •  The Business of Wine

    On a dark and stormy February evening, students, alumni, faculty and staff gathered to discuss and appreciate the California wine industry. Fortunately, the wet weather did not dampen the mood in the beautiful DeSassiet museum.

    The evening began with a panel discussion, led by wine expert and National Vice President of Sales for Michel-Schlumberger Winery, Jerry Craven. The panelists, Rob Jensen '86 of Testarossa Winery, Eric Mercier of Premier Wine Cask Inc., Celia Welch of Corra Wines, Paul Pieretti of Constellation Brands, Lee Nordlund of Punch Vineyards and Kim Kulchycki of Cline Cellars offered their extensive knowledge of the wine industry. Their discussion touched on many wine industry themes such as water, green production methods, marketing, and career opportunities.

    Following the panel, guests enjoyed a buffet dinner from local favorite Mio Vicino. Representatives from wineries Corra, J. Lohr, Testarossa, Punch, Guglielmo,  and Robert Mondavi poured and continued the oenological conversation.

    The FAI was thrilled by the strong attendance and interest in The Business of Wine. To those of you that were unable to make this event, we hope to see you at future gatherings in our "Business of" series!

    To view photos from the event, click here

  •  The 7th Annual Hunger Action Summit: Food as Medicine

    Food as Medicine: The Intersection of Hunger and Health” was the focus of the seventh annual Hunger Action Summit at Santa Clara University on January 30, 2015. Experts from across the country came together to present current food and health propositions to a crowd of over 200 guests. Focusing on the theme, "food as medicine" brought fervent interest from the crowd.

    For the first time in history, the current generation is no longer expected to outlive their parents generation, as more and more Americans are suffering from diet-related diseases. Our population has presented the country with a paradox of having enough calories to completely satiate our population, but individuals are still suffering from malnutrition. In order to address this paradox, the "food as medicine" concept was born.

    In order to address the concept, the summit was arranged to present the problems society is currently facing, what is currently being done to address these problems, and what future possibilities are in the works. Dr. Drew Starbird, Dean of Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business, spoke first and addressed the current need for food within Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. "The Hunger Index improved slightly in both counties, reflecting improved economic conditions and increased support from food-assistance providers like Second Harvest," said Starbird.

    CEO of SHFB, Kathy Jackson, offered approaches to minimizing hunger and reducing the stress on food distribution organizations such as SHFB. Jackson believes a possible solution may be dual enrollment in MediCal and CalFresh programs, as those who are chronically ill are often found at food pantries, and those who are chronically hungry are commonly found at hospitals. As Jackson mentions, "poverty, hunger, and diet-fueled health disparities are all tied together."

    The link between health and hunger was further validated by Dr. Hilary Seligman, associate professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Seligman's talk focused on the link between diabetes and food insecurity, as being food insecure increases the chances of acquiring diabetes.

    Lastly, Robert Greenwald, J.D., Director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School, spoke on his most recent research titled, Food as Medicine: The Case for Insurance Coverage for Medically-Tailored Food Under the Affordable Care Act. According to Greenwald's presentation, "food is an effective component of ameliorative health care for the acute and chronically ill, considering it is both cost effective and improves overall patient health status."

    The 2015 Hunger Action Summit proved to be a culmination of all the bright ideas, future propositions and current factors working towards solving hunger and diet-related health issues. The day’s presentations challenged the audience to think with a different perspective, step outside their comfort zone, and look into options they may have never thought feasible.

    To view the program and watch a video of the event, click here.

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