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Top 29 Food and Beverage Thought Leaders to Follow


Everyone in the food and beverage industry from CPG companies to foodservice manufacturers have a specialty. But that doesn’t mean we’re not all facing similar challenges: cyber security threats, a constant flow of innovations, and significant changes in consumer behaviors affect us all.

Below, we list 29 thought leaders in the CPG and foodservice world. These resources will help you stay abreast of everything from new buying trends to trade promotion management advances and everything in between.



Most of the organizations or publications listed below are followed up with an associated individual (or two). These people and brands are the thought leaders in the food and beverage industry. In no particular order, let’s jump in!

1. International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) – IFMA holds events throughout the year. In addition to their blog, they have a library full of Foodservice insights covering supply chain management, consumer trends, and more in the form of white papers, research reports, videos, and worksheets.

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2. Larry Oberkfell – CEO of IFMA, Oberkfell is a member of many industry associations, groups, and involved in the Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative.

3. Mintel – The world’s leading market intelligence agency, Mintel conducts research for a plethora of industries including food and beverage. If you want to know about upcoming trends, this is where you need to look for foodservice analytics.

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4. Supermarket Guru – This website shares content for food and beverage retailers on topics such as sustainability, consumer demands, nutritional value of products, as well as newsworthy content from the supermarket space. The Product Reviews section is robust and perfect for grocers considering introducing new items to their store.


5. Phil Lempert – Lempert founded in 1994. He’s a food marketing expert, speaker, podcaster, and author who shares extensively about foodservice trends.


6. Technomic – Founded in 1966, Technomic’s expertise in foodservice is global. The research they provide includes menu insights, feasibility of new markets, consumer trends, and more.


7. David Henkes – Henkes is the Senior Principal for Technomic and was recognized as a top restaurant expert to follow in 2018 by Toast, Inc. On his website, he shares articles for the foodservice industry.


8. Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF)  – A thought leader on gender equity in the food industry, WFF shares research and expertise to drive positive change for women. Sign up for their newsletter or read their blog to stay current on gender equity in the industry.


9. Susan Adzick– Adzick was with PepsiCo Foodservice before joining McLane Foodservice where she is now Sr. Vice President of Sales and Strategic Relationships. A trusted distribution partner, she is one we’d be happy to take advice from.

10. Denny Marie Post – President and CEO of Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews, Post is no stranger to the C-suite. She has worked with KFC/Yum Brands, Burger King, Starbucks, and more. This thought leader has the insights to create strategies that drive brand recognition and sales.

11. DATASSENTIAL – Datassential is a leading market research firm in the food industry. Their content is a combination of research with expert insight.


12. Hooman Simon Lahijani – Lahijani is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Datassential. He says they’ve “always been about big data… long before it became a buzzword.”

13. Nation’s Restaurant News – Restauranteurs and management can count on Restaurant News for newsworthy content and business intelligence on a nearly daily basis.


14. Ron Ruggless – Ruggless is the Senior Editor at Nation’s Restaurant News where he regularly publishes articles.


15. FoodDive – An online publication sharing food industry content in the form of news and feature articles. Topics covered include food packaging, processing, safety, grocery, retailing, new food and beverage products, trade promotion management, and even ingredients.


16. Food Marketing Institute (FMI) – FMI shares reports, offers training, certifications, and online events and in-person conferences. Their various forms of education cover food protection, industry relations, sustainability, communications, and more.

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17. Carol Abel – Abel is Vice President of Education & Research at Food Marketing Institute. She leads a team involved in planning and implementing FMI’s educational conferences and events.


18. Doug Baker – Vice President of Industry Relations at FMI, Baker is an expert at developing strategies that meet the needs of suppliers, customers, and consumers. Keep an eye out to catch him on the speaker circuit.


19. Food Business News – Food Business News is a publisher focused on food and agriculture. Their content covers trends as well as newsworthy content for manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, and food service professionals.


20. Keith Nunes – Nunes is the Executive Editor of Food Business News and contributor to other industry-related publications around the web.

21. Convenience Store News – A publication delivering news, trends, research, and events to the convenience store market to help retailers prepare for what’s ahead.


22. Foodservice Director – Foodservice Director is a trade magazine that offers a free print subscription to decision-makers in a non-commercial foodservice operation. Their online site includes relevant articles and research too.

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23. Consumer Goods Technology (CGT) – CGT disseminates insights online, print, and in-person for consumer goods executives about sales and marketing, supply chain, research, and innovations.


24. Paul Wietecha (President & CEO, Blacksmith Applications) – Paul started Blacksmith Applications in 2000, boasting a 20-year career in foodservice management with premier CPG companies. Since that time he has become a highly sought after trade spend advisor.


25. Pentallect Inc. – Pentallect is made up of five seasoned executives with extensive food business management and consulting experience. Each principal has a unique understanding and perspective of the challenges facing the various market channels and segments.


26. Gary Karp – Gary is an expert at strategic planning, go-to-market strategic and  tactical optimization, spend analysis and improvement (specifically in trade spend), market and sales performance optimization and investment due diligence.

27. The NPD Group – NPD, a market research company, measures how consumers shop across all channels, sourcing data from both retailers and consumers to quantify sales, share, distribution and velocity.

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28. Focus Brands – A $3 billion company and leading developer of global multi-channel foodservice brands. Focus, through its affiliate brands, is the franchiser and operator of more than 6,000 restaurants, cafes, ice cream shoppes and bakeries.


29. Kat Cole– “When you jump, you have to be willing to hustle to over-deliver beyond what someone who’s typically qualified or experienced will do,” says Kat Cole, COO and president of North America at Focus Brands. “Brands that have won and shaped this industry are the ones that are willing to be authentic and follow the true consumer truth instead of protecting their legacy ways,” she says.



The thought leader experts we’ve included regularly share food and beverage information that should be on your radar. I hope this has helped you to identify a few thought leaders and websites to add to your reading list.

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