AeroFarms, BlueNalu efforts in supply chain and sustainability headline Mazars’ (virtual) food forum

Marc Oshima, the co-founder and chief marketing officer of AeroFarms, knows all about distribution issues and concerns in the food sector — and he knew about them long before COVID-19 hit the U.S.

“When we talk about the issues that we’re facing, the challenges to our supply chain, it’s not just about pandemics,” he said. “It’s climate change, food safety, food recalls and a host of other things.”

Marc Oshima.

It’s an issue Oshima said AeroFarms — long considered one of the most innovative companies in the world — is working to solve from its headquarters in Newark and around the globe.

“We need a new paradigm,” he said. “This idea of resiliency, and concerns around food security, are more acute than ever before. We, as a company, are globally focused on solving them.”

It’s why Oshima and AeroFarms are one of two headline speakers at the Mazars Food and Beverage Executive Forumwhich will be presented virtually this year on July 23.

Oshima will be joined by Lou Cooperhouse, the former head of the Rutgers Food Innovation Center who now serves as CEO of BlueNalu, a global leader in cellular aquaculture.

The program will be moderated by Howard Dorman, national practice leader, food & beverage, at Mazars USA.

The discussion will center around how these companies are transforming their respective industries. Not disrupting it, but providing new solutions to old problems, including supply chain, sustainability and technology.

Lou Cooperhouse.

Cooperhouse said BlueNalu wants to provide consumers with great tasting, healthy, safe and trusted cell-based seafood products.

And the emphasis, he said, is on creating products that support the sustainability and diversity of the ocean.

Oshima said these types of solutions have been the mission of AeroFarms from the start — and that the company has seen an increased amount of global interest in its products.

“We’ve had tremendous interest from different countries and different regions, asking if we can bring our farming technology to these areas,” he said. “So, we’re excited about what it means in terms of large-scale production and building bigger farms. We’re also thinking about different parts of the supply chain.

“A big part of Aerofarms, and it’s not as well-known, but it’s one of the stories that we’ll share, is that our business is not built around the commercial products that we grow and sell at the supermarkets, but the proprietary research we do for Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies, helping them solve their ag-supply chain needs for anything that is plant-based.”

The impact already is impressive, Oshima said.

Howard Dorman.

“We’ve grown over 800 different products,” he said. “We’re specifically looking at, how do we create an optimal plant that has certain characteristics that the partners are looking for? And we’re applying this expertise in plants and our systems and applying it to other categories and broader issues. So, that’s been tremendously exciting for us to think about.

“If you think about pharmaceutical, cosmeceutical, even nutraceutical — where they are using something plant-based, we can have an impact there. So, that’s a big part of the work we’re doing.”

Research, Oshima said, is something is eager to talk about at the panel. Especially the farm the company recently announced it is bringing to Abu Dhabi.

“It is going to be the world’s largest indoor vertical farm just dedicated only to research and development,” he said. “There obviously is an incredible appetite for that in that region, since they import over 90% of their food. They are completely reliant. So, when the food system is broken, it’s more challenging than ever before.”

And not just in the Middle East.

Oshima said the facility will have impact on the global supply chain.

“We’re going to be working with partners on a broad range of different issues there that can then be ported to different regions,” he said. “We’ve seen an acceleration of those kind of inbound requests during the pandemic.

“It’s not only eye-opening, but validating of where we’re focused.”

For more information and to register, click here.