The Viva Fresh educational sessions will be held on Level 2 in the Grand Oaks ballrooms and salons on Friday, April 6. Please check back soon for more updates and a list of 2018 session topics and speakers.



8:45 am – 9:30 am
Ballroom Level:  Grand E-G

Educational Session


Growing to the next level or creating a generational transition plan can be complicated, especially if capital is an issue. Learn more about the role of private equity and how it is changing the face of business growth, acquisition and innovation in produce.

In today’s ever-changing global marketplace, it’s essential to have an understanding of the benefits, implications, and processes surrounding mergers and acquisitions as well as the role that private equity can play.

Viva Fresh welcomes a diverse and experienced panel to discuss the new landscape of private equity in the retail, foodservice, restaurant, and produce industries, and the ways in which it’s changing the face of business growth and innovation. Hosted by Robert Lambert of (Vantage Point Media), this educational session promises to enlighten attendees and provide real-world insight for navigating the world of mergers, acquisitions, and private equity investments.


Robert Lambert

Robert Lambert is the President and CEO of Vantage Point Media, encompassing the produce trade news publications AndNowUKnow and The Snack Magazine, as well as the deli news publication Deli Market News. Robert’s company specializes in digital and print media solutions for the fresh produce industry, while creating artistic, innovative marketing and editorial content for buyers and suppliers in the food business.

Jay Pack

Jay Pack is the former Owner and CEO of Standard Fruit & Vegetable Co., Inc., a $400 million integrated repacker, logistics, and value-added produce company, with distribution in thirty-five states. The company was sold to Del Monte Fresh, a NYSE company, in January 2003. Subsequent to the sale of the company, Jay and his wife Ruthie created the Pack Family Foundation, with a focus on education and the arts. He is an investor in—and currently serves on the Board of Directors for—Mission Produce, Country Fresh, and Coastal Sunbelt.

Joel Montminy

Joel Montminy is the founder and CEO of CREO Montminy & Co., a Los-Angeles based boutique investment bank. The firm has advised over 100 companies in the food industry—including nearly two dozen in produce—going through some form of corporate finance transaction, often with private equity partners.

Ferrell Daste

Ferrell Daste has more than 30 years of experience interacting with the global institutional investor community. As the President of Agriglobe Capital LLC, Ferrell provides marketing consulting services to the alternative asset community inclusive of food and agricultural companies. Throughout his career, Ferrell has held senior roles in the industry— including positions with Olam International, Deutsche Bank, and Goldman Sachs.

9:45 am – 10:45 am
Ballroom Level:  Grand C-D, H

Educational Session

HOW AMAZON AND TECHNOLOGY ARE FUELING A NEW FOOD RETAILING PARADIGM’s $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods instantly makes it a major player in the U.S. grocery industry leaving shoppers, retailers and other brick and mortar competitors wondering what lies ahead. As online retailing has taken hold, Amazon has disrupted the traditional brick and mortar sales model and the company has now set their sights on grocery. Join us to consider how Amazon could impact the future of supermarket retailing and address the role technology will play in food retailing and consumption.

Tom Edwards

Tom was recently recognized by Advertising Age as a 2017 Marketing Technology Trailblazer. For the past 17 years, Tom has focused on the intersection of emerging technology and its impact on consumer behavior and how to bring “Innovation to Reality.”™

Tom regularly provides thought leadership and commentary via business and advertising publications driving millions of views. Tom speaks regularly (domestic and international) as a futurist on topics of data design, artificial intelligence and the evolution of consumer experience.

11:15 am – 1:30 pm
Ballroom Level:  Grand J-S

Keynote Session


Phil Gwoke

Never before in history have generations come together with as broad of differing cultural and value differences, as well as expectations for businesses and brands. Much is made of the differences between generations of consumers and workers.

That’s why Viva Fresh is excited to welcome generational expert and Bridgeworks consultant Phil Gwoke as this year’s keynote speaker. Phil’s experience in age group insights gives him a unique knowledge of the perceptions and motivation factors that differ from Millennials to Gen X and Baby Boomers. As an internationally recognized speaker, Phil has shared his wisdom and inspired audiences in 40 different states and 4 continents to over 100,000 people.

In his keynote session, Phil will explore how the multi-generational marketplace is currently impacting produce purchasing behaviors especially as it relates to health and wellness using new customized research. Understanding the foundations of generational perceptions about healthy eating habits and nutrition can translate into tangible and lasting success for produce marketers, retailers and foodservice.  In addition, Phil will also review generational differences in the workplace and how the produce industry can adapt.

Founded in 1998, BridgeWorks seeks to bridge generational gaps in the workplace and marketplace through research, understanding, and actionable insight.   Phil is one of BridgeWorks’ resident Gen Xers, and he is a firm believer that with the proper motivation, training, and support system, members of any generation can become capable of remarkable accomplishments. With his down-to-earth, relatable style and dedication to presenting research in a digestible, entertaining way, Phil has become a fast favorite with audiences around the country.

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Ballroom Level:  Grand E-G

Educational Session



Luis Alberto Cruz Garcia

The Viva Fresh Education Committee is proud to extend a warm welcome to Luis Alberto Cruz García for this year’s Food Safety Seminar. Luis Alberto has nearly 20 years of experience as a top consultant in food safety practices and regulations in Mexico and around the world. In an increasingly global society, establishing and understanding food safety regulations, as well as the similarities and differences in regulatory procedures across national borders, is more important than ever.

We look forward to hosting Luis Alberto as he shares his insight on the development of food safety practices, advances that are shaping the industry, and the nuanced differences that we may see in examining the food safety culture from one country to another.

Luis Alberto Cruz García has extensive experience in technical issues and trade in food and agriculture in both the national and international arena. He is an expert in sanitary, phytosanitary and food safety matters. As an Agronomist graduated from the Universidad Autónoma Chapingo, he also holds an MBA in quality management.

From 2001 to 2004, Luis served as the Attaché for Agricultural Affairs of the Embassy of Mexico in Washington, D.C. He has previously collaborated with the National Bank for Foreign Trade (BANCOMEXT); the General Directorate of Plant Health and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). He was General Manager of the Mango Exporters Association (EMEX) and general director of DRC Mexico, an organization focused on solving commercial disputes.

Luis is a thought leader and columnist in magazines and publications on the food sector in Mexico. He currently serves as general director of AVQ Consulting and President of HELDEN Consulting Center. Since 2004, he has also been the Regional Representative of the Food Marketing Institute’s Safe Quality Food Program (SQF).