Bryan Roberts is global insights director at TCC Global (UK), collaborating with major international retailers to help create meaningful shopper loyalty. Prior to joining TCC, Bryan was SVP & knowledge officer for Kantar Retail, and he has around 20 years of experience in the retail research and insights industry, working for clients including some of the world’s largest retailers and FMCG suppliers.
Marion Durose has worked in retail and the supply side of fresh produce since 1993, focusing predominantly on berries. Now involved in raising awareness of modern slavery, as well as training and engaging fresh produce businesses to tackle the issue, Marion set up Safe Space Collaboration in 2016 to facilitate dialogue around difficult human rights issues within supply chains.
Stephan Weist heads category management for fruit, vegetables, flowers and plants at German supermarket chain Rewe, and is also brand manager for Rewe Regional, the group's brand for regional products. He has worked in fresh produce management positions at Chiquita, Landgard and Rewe, to which he returned in 2013. Stephan is an alumnus of the VWA Cologne and Insead Business School. Since 2014, he has represented the industry in Brussels as vice-president of Freshfel Europe.
Pedro Bragança is general manager of Bfruit and a soft fruit investor. Having taken charge of his family´s farm, Pedro remodelled the business to become a soft fruit grower and a key player in the berry business. He founded Bfruit in 2013, gaining officially recognition as a producer organisation in 2016. At the moment, Pedro is involved in major soft fruit investments in Portugal as United Berries, a company in the south of Portugal representing 40ha of berry production.
Alessandro Mariani is export manager of Infia Group, a leading company in the fresh fruit and vegetable packaging sector. He has held this position since 2009, contributing to the expansion of the company’s international sales network, collaborating with major international retailers and growers. Prior to joining Infia, Alessandro gained years of experience in the fresh fruit and vegetable processing and packing machinery industry.
Geoff Furniss has been the chief executive officer of BBC Technologies since 2006. In 2002, he set up and subsequently ran the group's North American operation, having returned to what was his family’s business. Prior to that, he worked in IT and professional services, supporting companies from the US to South Africa.
For the past seven years Logie has pioneered the research and development of many successful products and projects involving Honeyberries. He is a recognised authority on Honeyberries, providing consultancy services to producers seeking to drive innovation and change. Logie is also the author of the book Your Essential Honeyberry Guide.
Peter Stremer is a specialist at the Landwirtschaftskammer NRW's extension centre for berry fruits in Cologne, Germany. Peter oversees research experiments at the centre, which is owned by the leading stations for berry fruit in Germany.
Alexandre Pierron-Darbonne is president of Planasa, the specialist plant breeder in berries, stonefruit and vegetables with more than 40 years of experience. Through its subsidiaries in Spain, France, Italy, Poland, the US, Chile, Mexico, Morocco, China, Romania and the Netherlands and its extensive network of partnerships, Planasa delivers global solutions that meet both the requirements of producers and consumer tastes.
Mihai Ciobanu is the CEO of intelligence platform fresh4cast.com, a system dedicated to improving predictability in the fresh produce industry. More than half of all berries produced in the UK now benefit from one of the forecasting solutions offered by Fresh4cast.
Branko Bajatovic is a director of Bluemond Ltd and works as a management consultant. Following 20 years working in the private sector and supporting international financial institutions across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Branko has spent six years in the blueberry sector as an investor, producer, and organiser of a group of blueberry growers.
Karl Heggarty joined Sirane over two years ago and manages the group's fresh produce customers within the UK. His responsibilities also include the continued development of innovative products, such as Sirane's range of absorbent pads for fruit and vegetable shelf-life extension. He also supports partners and agents outside of the UK and overseas production across the group.
Pippa is a senior client leader with strong expertise in innovation, product testing and sensory research. She has over 18 years experience partnering with global FMCG brands to address their marketing and commercial challenges. Through close and trusted relationships with some of the world’s leading food & drink companies, including Unilever, Mars, Kellogg’s, Diageo, GSK and Mondelez, Pippa has provided solutions to optimise product and brand. She started her research career with a PhD in Psychology from Reading University, looking at context effects in preference & choice (sponsored by Unilever, Nestle and Givaudan). Prior to joining Ipsos, Pippa was Global Innovation Head and Board Director at MMR Worldwide. She is active on the conference circuit and has been widely published in the industry press.
Peter McPherson is general manager of the Costa Berry Category. He has held the role since 1986, and his experience managing large-scale horticultural operations has played a key role in the steady growth and success of Costa's berry operations. In July 2016 he was elevated to the position of general manager for Berry International, having been instrumental in the successful expansion of the berry business internationally. Peter is the current president of the International Blueberry Organization.
John Shelford is a strategic advisor at Naturipe Added Value Foods. He has served forty-one years in the berry and blueberry industry in executive level positions in grower owned marketing organisations. His experience includes fresh, frozen, dried, and concentrate market channels for berries, sourced from Western Hemisphere growing districts, and sales to world markets. His recent focus has been on frozen blueberry sales and marketing.
Tom Coen is CEO, founder and owner of Octinion, which has developed the world's first human-like robotic picker for strawberries. Having secured a masters in electrotechnical engineering from KULeuven in 2004, Tom went on to complete a PhD in engineering sciences at the same university in 2009, focusing on 'model-based predictive control to increase the capacity of harvesting machinery in uncertain conditions'.
Jan van Bergeijk, commercial manager raspberries, Plus Berries. Jan has been involved in the soft fruit industry since 1983 and in raspberries since 1989 when he joined Frutas Remolino in Huelva. Today the company is part of SAT Plus Berries and Jan is responsible for the group’s raspberry programmes. He specialises in varietal innovation and crop development.
Jamie Smith is business development manager at James Hutton Limited, the commercial branch of scientific research group. Having joined the company late last year after eight years with one of the UK seed potato industry's leading suppliers, he is now tasked with exploring and developing all angles of the James Hutton Institute’s Agri division – covering varietal breeding, crop trialling, analytics and diagnostics, bio-controls and agri-technology.
Dr Craig K Chandler, formerly professor at the University of Florida’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Centre, led the university’s strawberry breeding programme from 1987 until 2010. During his tenure as the UF strawberry breeder, he was one of only two full-time public strawberry breeders in the US. Several of the varieties Craig developed, including Sweet Charlie, Florida Festival, and Florida Fortuna, have become the dominant varieties in Florida and other winter production areas around the world.
Jan Marc Schulz was literally born into the fruit business and is now the second generation at the helm of SFI Rotterdam – possibly Rotterdam’s last significant independent fresh fruit importer. For the past 20 years, Jan Marc has been involved in procurement, visiting farms and packing facilities worldwide. Having stumbled across the haskap berry on one of his trips, he is now dedicated to using SFI Rotterdam’s expertise and network to help make this exciting new berry a success throughout Europe.
Tadeusz Kusibab is the founder and owner of Gospodarstwo Ogrodnicze (Horticulture Farm) Tadeusz Kusibab, a plant laboratory and nursery specialising in commercial micropropagation of nursery plants, mainly blueberry, raspberry and haskap. He has a Master of Horticultural Science degree, specialising in plant breeding and micropropagation – an area in which he has been involved professionally since 1981.
Vincent has been Business Development Manager of Symborg since 2011, devoted to launching Symborg products in Europe, Asia and Africa, and overseeing the development of Symborg technology in more than 20 countries. He began working as a country manager, designing marketing plans for companies in Spain, France and Portugal. He has a Bachelor of Business Administration from l'Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Bordeaux, and an MBA from Comillas Pontifical University in Madrid.
Roberto Zanichelli joined ILIP in 2002 and has been the company's sales and marketing director since 2013. Since joining the food packaging business in 1994, Roberto has worked in several different sales positions. He is very focused on innovation and sustainability in food packaging, as he believes that it plays a fundamental role in reducing food waste and related costs.
Cort Brazelton is director of global business development at Fall Creek Farm & Nursery. the largest supplier of premium blueberry nursery stock to commercial fruit growers, nurseries and retailers worldwide.
Yi (Eric) Li is vice-president of Shanghai Yiguo E-commerce, where he is responsible for global sourcing and alliances. Founded in 2005, Yiguo provides safe, healthy and convenient perishable foods to around 10m consumers across more than 300 cities in China. Having worked for eight years in the international steel trading business, as well as five years consulting in the steel and metal industry, Eric has also worked in various marketing, business development and strategic planning roles at multinational companies such as Hyundai and DuPont in both the US and China. As an entrepreneur, he has more than ten years' experience of helping startup companies grow. He holds a BS of Mechanical Engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and MBA from the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Ben Maes grew up surrounded by berries and other fruits traded at Belgian importer Special Fruit, inheriting a passion for the industry from his father and company founder François Maes. When Special Fruit opened an additional office in Spain, Ben was the right man to take on the role of Special Fruit’s managing director in the country, where he is responsible for both the cultivation and commercial side. With more than 20 years’ experience in the field, Ben is a true berry expert at Special Fruit.
Richard Salvage is managing director of plant stimulants specialist Maxstim. Richard’s passion for science and innovation started whilst studying Mechanical Engineering at Salford University, moving into haemodynamics and vascular surgery research at Kings College London. He grew Shield Medicare into one of the world’s most successful contamination control companies. More recently he has developed Maxstim, an organic biostimulant that stimulates plant health and increases growth. Richard was awarded Cranfield University Entrepreneur of the year 2012 and he is currently carrying out postgraduate research.
Anna Dyc, sales manager for Eastern Europe at OctoFrost, has years of experience in the berry freezing industry, with a knowledge of the entire berry processing cycle and an understanding of the challenges and opportunities berry processors face today. In the past, she worked as head of an export department and was responsible for sales of frozen berries.
Raffaele Benedetti is sales manager at fresh produce equipment supplier Unitec. He has held this position since 2008, contributing to the expansion and consolidation of the company’s international trading network. Raffaele started as area manager, before becoming coordinator of the Spanish branch Unitec Iberica. He has participated in several international fresh produce seminars and conferences, focusing on the issue of post-harvest technologies.
Janja Postružnik is a partner at Haskap Ltd. She heads up strategic consultancy for domestic and international clients, organisations and development at the Slovenian organisation. Last year saw the formation of Haskap Cooperative, which aims to be the biggest supplier of Haskap berries (Honeyberries) in northeast Europe. Prior to forming Haskap, Janja worked in corporate industry and finance.
Gerard van Loon is sourcing manager for fruit at The Greenery. Gerard, 55, has worked for the Dutch group for 15 years and is responsible for building relationships with growers, breeding companies and nurseries to achieve optimal fruit quality at the right time for customers.
Steve has 28 years’ experience as a materials scientist at DuPont, working in R&D, Applications Development, Manufacturing and Marketing and is cited as inventor on several patents. He is currently Applications Development Leader for DuPont Protection Solutions, focused on developing better systems to protect sensitive goods during transport.
Yulei Zhao began working as a senior plant engineer in Haisheng Group's soft fruit department in December 2016. Her work is focused mainly on the management of strawberry production, including planting, nutrition and controlling disease and insects. For the past year, Yulei has been working on a PhD in plant pathology at RWTH-Aachen university.
Ian Simmons is a consultant at ITS Assoc/Fresh Concepts Asia with 30 years' experience of the fresh produce business spanning a range of sectors globally. With a strong background in Asia-Pacific markets, Ian was involved in the early development of Chinese strawberry production in the early 1990s, with cultivation of Elite Plants on the Mongolian Border and fruit in Shantou Province for the Hong Kong market. He also helped develop the Asian market for berries, particularly the first early 'low-chill' blueberries from Florida and Georgia, as well as for late-season cherries from Norway and British Colombia into Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia.