Speakers

BQI22 delegates will hear from a plethora of local and international speakers over the two days of plenary sessions, covering a wide range of topics. Guests will also be invited to take part in thought-provoking workshops and offsite field days as well as catch up with industry colleagues at several networking functions.

The BQI22 program will focus on issues affecting the berry industry now and into the future. Topics will include innovations in breeding, pollination, research and product optimisation, sustainability and technology developments, biosecurity concerns, food safety, labour management and marketing.

Costa General Manager and Berries Australia Chair, Peter McPherson will be joined by the biggest movers and shakers in the berry industry including Driscoll’s of the Americas President, Soren Bjorn and Hortifrut S.A CEO, Juan Ignacio Allende to provide a global perspective on the current state of the berry industry.

JUAN IGNACIO ALLENDE: CEO, Hortifrut S.A

Juan Ignacio Allende has been the corporate CEO of Hortifrut S.A. since 2016. The Company is the largest fresh blueberry marketer in the world and the second-largest of the whole Berry category.

His responsibility covers the development of new berry genetics all the way to selling over a billion dollars in fresh berries around the world every day. The Company owns over 5,000 hectares and controls another 5,000 hectares through its genetics and sales services. It grows berries in 12 countries and sells them in more than 40 different countries.

One of his main achievements is to have incorporated both a digital and sustainable culture into the organisation with over two thousand employees.
Allende has dedicated all 33 years of his working life to the produce business, starting in 1989 after studying agriculture and economics in the Catholic University of Chile.

His previous role was as CEO of Vital Berry Marketing S.A. since 1991, where he developed the Company from its foundation, becoming the second-largest berry Company in Chile. This Company merged with Hortifrut in 2013.

SOREN BJORN: President, Driscoll’s of the Americas

Soren Bjorn is the President of Driscoll’s of the Americas based in Watsonville, California, the global headquarters of Driscoll’s. In his role, Mr. Bjorn leads the largest business unit for Driscoll’s and is responsible for all aspects of the business enterprise from the strategic planning process and to its financial success. Family owned for more than 100 years, Driscoll’s is the leading brand for fresh berries and distributes in more than 22 countries around the world.

Soren has been with Driscoll’s for more than ten years and has led several key functional areas. He served as the company’s first Senior Vice President of international business and was responsible for oversight of Driscoll’s Europe, Middle East and Africa business, an Australia based joint venture and a new start-up venture in China. In addition, Soren has led Driscoll’s global research and breeding programs which focus on developing proprietary seedlings in order to deliver great tasting berries to consumers. This superior flavor is a competitive differentiator and one of the primary reasons Driscoll’s is the market leader in fresh berries.

As a seasoned executive in the food industry, Soren spent six years with Del Monte Foods in San Francisco. There, his responsibilities included outsourcing of manufacturing operations globally, and the management of the company’s sales and operations planning department. Soren also held the role of President and CEO for UniMark Foods, Inc. a vertically integrated citrus and tropical fruit growing and processing company headquartered in Texas.

Soren earned an MBA from Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth, Texas and a BBA in Marketing from Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
Soren was born and raised in Silkeborg, Denmark where his mother still lives today. His brother, Thomas Bjorn is a world-class professional golfer. Soren is the proud father of three boys.

BerryQuest International is also thrilled to welcome International Keynote Speakers, Professor David Hughes (UK) and Eric Snodgrass (USA).

DAVID HUGHES: Emeritus Professor of Food Marketing at Imperial College London

Dr. David Hughes is Emeritus Professor of Food Marketing at Imperial College London, and Visiting Professor at the Royal Agricultural University, U.K. As “Dr. Food”, he is a much sought-after speaker at international conferences and seminars on global food industry issues, particularly consumer and retail trends.

David has lived and worked in Europe, North America, the Caribbean, Africa and Southeast Asia and has extensive experience as an international advisory board member with food companies and financial service organisations on three continents.

David was a founding partner in a hydroponic fresh produce company in Florida, USA and a Director of Berry Gardens, a farmer-owned berry business and the UK’s largest fresh berry supplier for 20 years.

ERIC SNODGRASS: Science Fellow & Principal Atmospheric Scientist, Nutrien Ag Solutions

Eric Snodgrass is a Science Fellow and Principal Atmospheric Scientist for Nutrien Ag Solutions, where he develops predictive, analytical software solutions to manage weather risk for global production agriculture.

He provides frequent weather updates that focus on how high-impact weather events influence global agriculture productivity. His current research uses machine learning to better understand field-level weather impacts on yields in the US and to increase confidence in long-range weather prediction. He presents his research as a featured speaker at over 120 conferences annually where he provides logistical guidance and solutions to weather-sensitive financial institutions, farmers, commodity traders, and other stakeholders.

Snodgrass is a co-founder of Global Weather and Climate Logistic, LLC and Agrible, Inc which were both acquired by Nutrien Ag Solutions in 2018.

Other Speakers