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Food | Ag | Ideas, led by Naturally MN and partners, is an annual multi-day series of speakers, events, tours, and demo showcases to highlight innovative ideas, make connections across the sectors, invite leaders to join Minnesota's entrepreneur and innovation ecosystem, and move our industry forward,
The 2023 theme of FAI focused on the Future of Food + Ag Innovation: Healthy People, Planet. Centering the ways in which the food system operates is critical to ensure the future and sustainability of our value chain.

This event took place on October 9th and 10th at the Minnesota History Center. Over these two days of panels, participants were able to learn and network. They also had the opportunity to engage in an array of pre-conference events and experiences that began October 3rd. Stay tuned for 2024 conference dates. 

10/3: TUESDAY*

8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

BEYOND THE KITCHEN: SCALING YOUR PRODUCTION TO MEET DEMAND - EDUCATION AND RESOURCE FAIR Are you a CPG brand that has outgrown your commercial kitchen, but you can't find a cost-effective manufacturing solution to scale your volume? Join us for this combination education session + resource fair about standing up your own manufacturing facility (and no, that doesn't necessarily mean buying a building). The session will begin with information sharing on building or building out a “facility,” including space requirements, capacity needs, processing needs, human/food safety, product quality management, storage, ingredient and finished good management, and more. Following the learning period, connect with consultants and resource providers at the Resource Fair for everything you will need to scale your manufacturing: Realtors, Financing, Processing, Equipment, Build Out, Management, and more. Attendees should expect to walk away from this workshop with a clear understanding of “what it takes” to stand up a manufacturing space that meets your growing company’s needs. AGENDA 8 - 8:20: Who Should do this? When + Why to BYO 8:30 - 8:35: Real Estate 8:35 - 11:15 Build Out + Education - Infrastructure Requirements for your Capacity/Production - Permits/Building Code/Safety Considerations - Quality/Safety - Staffing needs - Scaling formula + ingredients, SL + Testing (BREAK) - What space(s) are needed? - Commercialization - Equipment + Tool list - Cost to build, cost to run, Total COGs impact 11:15 - 11:25 BREAK 11:25 - 11:40: Financing section 11:40 - 12:25: Founder Panel — END OF EDUCATION —- 12:20 - 1:30: LUNCH 1:30 - 4: Speed Dating Resource Fair

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3:00 PM – 5:30 PM*

Off-Site Event Hosted by Finnovation Labs

NATURALLY MN BEAUTY + BODY: FOUNDERS BEYOND FOOD If you're a non-food founder join us for the multiphase session all about the beauty and body care industry. We'll kick off with What Founders Need to Know Now - the old DTC model is worn down. Here's how to succeed in a competitive market. We'll then open up to an AMA session with experts where you can ask questions around building a business in this category. Finally, our Experts will have info tables setup and you can wander around during HH to have 1:1 conversations or share contact info. Complimentary wine and refreshments will be available after the panel concludes to continue the networking. Speakers - David Blum - Ashley Prange - Nell Rueckl - Nora Schaper


8:00am - 1:00 PM*

Off-Site event, Multiple Locations


TWIN CITIES MANUFACTURING TOUR​ If you love the show Unwrapped and always have wanted to see how products are made, come join us for an afternoon of touring multiple local food and beverage manufacturing locations across the metro! You'll get a behind the scenes look at production facilities both small and large guided by our resident co-manufacturing expert, John Castillo and Asa Bielenbrg of Food Ops LLC. If you're interested in what it looks like to scale a food business and get a peek behind the curtain, join this guided bus tour, spending an hour at each facility, and learn all about it! More information on locations and agenda will be emailed separately. Speakers - Asa Bielenberg - John Castillo

5:30- 8:00 PM*

Off-Site event, held at City Food Studio


CHICKEN BREAKDOWN + COOKING WORKSHOP Have you ever considered buying a whole chicken from a farmer or your local grocer but didn't because you don't know how to cut or prepare it at home? Are you curious about at-home butchery and want to begin your journey of meat cutting in an approachable way? Join local butcher, Cecka Parks and local chef, Lachelle Cunningham in an engaging, informative and fun evening of learning all about chicken butchery and cookery at our studio so you can take your learnings home! Workshop Outline: 5:30-5:45: Arrival + Introductions 5:45-6:30: Breakdown Demonstration and Student Participation 6:30-6:45: Clean Up from Breakdown 6:45-7:30: Cooking demonstration and Student Participation 7:30-8:00: Dinner, Q & A, Clean Up Speakers - Theresa (Cecka) Parks - Lachelle Cunningham

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10/9: MONDAY

Events Hosted at Minnesota History Center

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM

10:30 AM – 11:30 AM

SEEDING SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE: BREAKING BARRIERS TO EMBRACE REGENERATIVE CROPS AND PROCESSES ​The benefits of regenerative agriculture practices are undeniable yet it has been a slow transition getting more farmers to shift. This panel will discuss the topical and systemic barriers that are preventing farmers from making positive changes in how they farm, which include incentivization, crop insurance, education, support and more. Speakers - Kim Melton - Anna Cates - Carson Klosterman - Paul Dietmann

11:30 AM - 12:30 PM

MAKERS MARKET FEATURING LOCAL FOUNDERS Before digging into lunch walk around and meet with a selection of local CPG brands, sample products, and learn about some of the rising star brands in Minnesota!

12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

LUNCH + NETWORKING Lunch is included in your ticket price, but please select this session only if you are able to attend so we have an accurate count.

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

FROM SOIL TO SHELF: ACCELERATING REGENERATIVE PRODUCTS IN THE CPG INDUSTRY More and more brands are looking to include regenerative ingredients in their products, but finding the supply chains and farmers can be challenging. Here from our panel including supply chain builder Mad Agriculture, brands like Simple Mills and Lil Bucks, and farmer Luke Peterson of A-Frame Farms on what it takes to successfully include regenerative ingredients, hot to de-risk the process for farmers, and why it takes longer than you think. Speakers - Alex Heilman - Beth Robertson-Martin - Emily Griffith - Berklee Welsh - Luke Peterson

3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

DIGITIZING TO THE FOOD CHAIN: AI TRANSFORMATIONS FROM FARM TO RETAIL SHELF From on farm to the retailer's shelf, AI is accelerating how the food system does business. Hear from Google Mineral, Cargill, Omni Talk, and local startup Verdethos on how AI is shifting work across the supply chain and what to expect in the future. Speakers - Lisa Esberger - Abhishek Roy - Christina Connelly - Liz Spence

5:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Off-site event hosted at Midtown Global Market

CELEBRATING INDIGENOUS PEOPLE'S DAY THROUGH FOOD AND STORIES At Midtown Global Market Join us for an evening of stories about the challenges of colonization of food, reclaiming food sovereignty, and spreading knowledge about traditional foods and practices from a panel of Indigenous food sovereignty leaders. This event is in partnership with NATIFS and the Consulate General of Canada in Minneapolis. Consul General Beth Richardson will give opening remarks. After the panel you will be able to enjoy the food the chefs created together, shop at the Indigenous Food Lab Market along with other Indigenous vendors that will be showcasing their crafts. We look forward to celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day with you as a Community! Due to limited capacity, please only add this session to your itinerary if you are able to attend in person. Speakers ·Chef Johl Whiteduck Ringuette, NishDish · Linda Black Elk Education and Outreach Leader · Chef Ana Garcia Castellanos, NATIFS · Herbal Specialist Francesca Garcia, NATIFS · Chef Ma'iingan Sherritt-Stone, Owamni · Chef Darryl Montana, Owamni

10/10: Tuesday

Events Hosted at Minnesota History Center

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM


PROTEIN PIONEERS: BALANCING THE PLATE WITH CONVENTIONAL AND ALTERNATIVE PROTEINS IN THE FUTURE FOOD LANDSCAPE A majority of Americans still consume large amounts of traditional animal protein (beef, chicken, pork) and demand worldwide continues to skyrocket. But with a growing need for climate smart sources of protein, the alternative and plant protein industries have exploded in the past decade. Listen in to Jeff Fitzpatrick, Cargill's BeefUp Sustainability Leader and Dr. Priera Panescu, from the Good Food Institute talk about the pros and cons of each industry, and why the future is going to need both to feed our growing population. Speakers - Jeffrey Fitzpatrick - Priera Panescu

10:30 AM – 11:30 AM



FROM PROHIBITION TO PROSPERITY: EMBRACING CANNABIS IN MN FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH In the past year exciting legislation changes have swept through Minnesota promising opportunities to growers, processors, and brands. But with previous cannabis booms across the country there have been busts. Dig into the nitty gritty of this legislation, what it means for building a cannabis business with longevity, and what lessons learned can be shared as we embark in the new industry. Speakers - Carol Moss - Leili Fatehi - Katie Simon - Tony Cortilet

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

MAKERS MARKET FEATURING LOCAL FOUNDERS Before digging into lunch walk around and meet with a selection of local CPG brands, sample products, and learn about some of the rising star brands in Minnesota!

12:30 PM – 2:00 PM

LUNCH + NETWORKING Lunch is included in your ticket price, but please select this session only if you are able to attend so we have an accurate count.

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM

HOW THE VALUES-ORIENTED CONSUMER IS CHANGING THE NATURAL MARKET (AND MORE) TREND SESSION Led by SPINS Do consumers want organic products? Keto? Allergen-friendly? Vegan? Sustainable packaging? Yes, to all of the above. Today’s consumers have a personal set of values that they base their purchasing decisions on—and they expect to be able to research and locate the right products easily. Join Edricco Reina, SPINS Managing Director of Retail partnerships, to learn why the values-oriented consumer is the leading influence in today’s market and how their evolving tests are reshaping 2023’s biggest trends across natural and conventional landscapes. Speakers - Edricco Reina

3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

GET BETTER PROBLEMS: HOW TRANSPARENCY ABOUT FAILURE CAN SHIFT FROM SETBACK TO SUCCESS​ Led by the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute Problems are a part of any business, at any point. And, failure isn’t bad… if we learn from and share our hard-earned experiences, we can all get better problems! Minnesota has a robust food and agriculture ecosystem, but among the many successes there have been numerous – but often hidden – examples where things didn't go as planned. AURI has gathered participants across the ecosystem to share moments where they encountered hurdles or failed to succeed. There are many lessons to be learned from failures and setbacks, yet few spaces exist for open discussion and brainstorming. Making a concerted effort to provide inspiration and celebration is one way we can support a culture of innovation, transparency, and community engagement around continuous learning. In the spirit of creating those spaces – we’re going to “start by starting” and invite audience engagement in this session – sparking conversation and connections that we hope will carry into our “Crash the Networks” Happy Hour following this final session of Food | Ag | Ideas Week. We hope you leave with the confidence to bring these mechanisms of transparency forward and to nudge others in the ecosystem to share and learn at future events as well. This session is sponsored by Bremer Bank and Mainstreet Businesses Focused on Food and Ag, and led by Broadhead. Speakers - Emilie Hitch - Belén Rodríguez

5:00 PM – 8:00 PM*

Off-Site Event Hosted at Amsterdam Bar & Hall

CRASH THE NETWORKS HAPPY HOUR + AWARDS CELEBRATION Close out Food, Ag, Ideas Week by joining us at Amsterdam Bar & Hall for our annual Crash the Networks Happy Hour. This is a chance to network with folks from across the ecosystem and forge deeper connections. Additionally, we will giving out our inaugural Naturally MN 5 P's of Progress Awards. These awards recognize companies and individuals who have demonstrated exemplary leadership in the 5 P's - People, Planet, Prosperity, Passion, and Purpose, and are nominated by the community. We are excited to keep building a community of action, collaboration, and support. Join us for this finale and celebration! Speaker - Corinne Shindelar

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* = Off-Site Event


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