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  • 9 Aug 2021 9:17 AM | Anna Briggs-Pirila

    Sustainability has evolved from an expected part of good corporate citizenship to a driver of business strategy, like we see with our member Simple Mills, and a key decision-making consideration for consumers. Now, more than ever, consumers want to be assured that the food they are buying is more sustainable from sourcing, supply chain, human health to environmental impacts (See the work that our member Dairy Farmers of America is doing).

    The good news, according to our partners at IFT, is the financial benefits of operating sustainably can be considerable.  Benefits range from increased revenue and market value to an improved bottom line; plus a positive impact on the community and world around you.

    At CFBN we are extremely proud of the work and effort that many of our members have put into creating sustainable products and services. Our network is filled with innovators focusing on upcycling (see GoodSport and CometBio for example), creating sustainable brands, and ensuring their supply chain is green and truly leading the sustainable charge (our member KeHe comes to mind here).

    • Is your brand sustainable? We’d love to hear from you and share information (and inspiration) about your efforts with the Network.
    • Missed the CFBN virtual event: The Food & Beverage Industry - Leaders in Sustainability? Don’t stress. With your CFBN Membership perks you can access all event recordings here.

  • 30 Jul 2021 5:05 PM | Anna Briggs-Pirila

    16 Jul 2021 --- Barry Callebaut is teaming up with vanilla supplier Prova to launch a new charter in Madagascar that will boost its vanilla sourcing credentials. The tie-up will bring 100 percent sustainability to Barry Callebaut’s North American “Better For You” chocolate portfolio.

    In addition, the Swiss chocolate giant is moving toward 100 percent sustainably sourced cacao within this product range. These developments along both supply chains are hailed as important steps toward the company’s 2025 Forever Chocolate sustainability goals.

    Barry Callebaut’s Better For You portfolio includes – but is not limited to – sugar solutions (sugar-free, reduced sugar and no sugar added), high-protein, dairy-free and organic solutions.

    The portfolio has seen high growth and innovation in recent years, the supplier highlights. “Being fully cocoa and vanilla sustainable adds to the value proposition of our products, which our customers can leverage in their product development and storytelling.”

    Barry Callebaut and Prova will fund and support local communities through social, health and education programs.

    “The cocoa and vanilla synergy is an ancient love-story that dates back to the Aztecs, thousands of years ago,” says Alessandra Ognibene-Lerouvillois, chief sustainability officer at Prova. “Witnessing this marriage in the field, helping farmers to improve their livelihoods is a big achievement.”

    Continue reading, HERE.

  • 27 Jul 2021 12:36 PM | Anna Briggs-Pirila

    According to research by Forbes, 60% of consumers buy products and services from companies that are socially and/or environmentally responsible. This is a big deal as companies are finding out that if they are sustainable, they can attract more customers and increase their revenues.

    In our last article for Chicagoland, we talked about the new type of consumers rising in the past few years: the conscious label-reader ones. They care about sustainability, where their food comes from and eating better. 

    In this article, we are going to talk about the same subject, sustainability and traceability, but this time from a business perspective and regarding the production process. How green can your supply chain be? Do you know how to identify points of improvement and actually improve them? Keep up with us to check this out!

    Sustainability and traceability

    According to the United Nations Global Compact, traceability is: “The ability to identify and trace the history, distribution, location and application of products, parts and materials, to ensure the reliability of sustainability claims, in the areas of human rights, labour (including health and safety), the environment and anti-corruption.”

    The value of traceability in regards to sustainability comes from a traceable system and the reliable information coming along with it. Third-party certifications are able to confirm any claims being made whenever material sources and production techniques are verifiable. 

    Supply chains continue to expand their complexity, with almost all products requiring the collaboration of multiple businesses to complete the development of raw materials into final goods.

    This article by Riverlogic shows us the importance of certifications across the supply chain: “Third-party certifications add trust to an otherwise opaque system from the consumer’s view. They allow businesses and their customers to unite behind common goals and values, which in turn can significantly increase brand value. These certifications can be used to verify claims relating to all four ‘pillars’ of sustainability. You may be familiar with some, like verified organic produce, sustainably harvested timber and fair trade practices, but there are hundreds of others.”

    Is your supply chain green?

    The answer to this question is different for every company and depends on many factors, such as the source of raw materials; what the chain of producers and suppliers looks like; how much energy is consumed in the production process; among other things. The supply chain is generally made up of raw material suppliers, manufacturers and retailers – but the risks and opportunities can extend well beyond this.

    From a product point of view, when going through an analysis of the supply chain, some companies might think that theirs is too complex to have their sustainability claims verified. However, there are a few models to help you with that job:

    • Product segregation: Using this model, all verified materials are separated from those that are not, never to be mixed again. A model like this is very important for industries like the food and beverages ones, where claims regarding organic, kosher, vegan, and halal products must be strictly enforced.

    • Mass balance: The Mass Balance model focuses on the ratio of certified and uncertified materials, which can be mixed, as long as the final claims maintain the ratio/percentage of the inputs.

    • Book and Claim: This model allows sustainability certificates to be earned and sold. It is used when supply chains are too complex to reasonably maintain product verification of any form.

    By taking into account all key elements of a supply chain, businesses are able to assess their current level of performance and determine what needs to be done and when.

    How can you push it forward to improvement?

    Many brands are now adopting better managing strategies throughout their supply chain giving them transparency and traceability. Benefits of this strategy include:

    • A quick and easy way to identify and assess your environmental risks;

    • A framework for regular improvement and an easy way to benchmark other organizations in your sector. This also makes whether you are making good progress very clear 

    • Improved efficiency in your supply chain – freeing up time for more important tasks;

    • Reduced risk of regulatory sanctions or consumer boycotts over issues such as sourcing, workers’ rights, deforestation, etc. 

    Quality management software

    A software that helps you manage certificates and supplier documentation, by automating this work, can give your company time to bring improvements to production.

    Otrafy is an AI-powered supplier management system that manages and optimizes supplier quality assurance processes. It provides actionable insights to mitigate vendor-associated supply chain risks. Otrafy also allows users to ditch other tools, such as Excel and email.

    More than that, Otrafy helps you collect the data necessary to certify that your supply chain is green in a readable format with Otraforms. These added features mean fewer files, data centralization, and more convenience all in a single interface. It’s the perfect tool for an environment with growing regulatory requirements and more demanding consumers.

    Reach out to to know more about us and what we can do for your business.

  • 20 Jul 2021 11:33 AM | Anna Briggs-Pirila

    Tables bring people together. Wonderful things happen at tables; ideas are exchanged, plans are made, mouths are fed. CFBN's sister organization, Bigger Table, founded in 2020, does this on a larger scale, bringing people and organizations together to help address issues in our larger community.

    Bigger Table uncovers opportunities within our industry to deliver charitable and economic growth initiatives. With our thriving Chicagoland Food and Beverage industry and the dedicated work of community partners, we leverage a new kind of collaboration and get important things done.

    There’s never been a better time to give or get involved. All tax-deductible gifts made to Bigger Table today are matched by ADM, up to $100,000, thanks to the recent grant from ADM Cares! Join the effort, help us build a bigger table by making a gift today.

    Learn more, here:

  • 12 Jul 2021 2:58 PM | Anna Briggs-Pirila

    Ingredients that were once considered "waste," or too "low quality" to be useful, are now considered relevant and nutritious. An increasing population, economic pressure, and shifts in attitudes towards certain foods have paved the way for opportunities to upcycle food ingredients. Because of this growing trend, formulating health-driven, sustainable foods is more pertinent now than ever.

    This webinar is a timely guide for food technologists and manufacturers to get creative with new sources of fiber and protein while keeping up with current consumer trends.

    To access the webinar recording,  CLICK HERE.

  • 7 Jul 2021 12:28 PM | Anna Briggs-Pirila

    Back in our March 2020 newsletter, I shared a quote from Pope Francis that I hoped would spur much-needed optimism.  However, as the world begins to re-opens, I find it especially appropriate to revisit:

    “Tonight before falling asleep think about when we will return to the street. When we hug again, when all the shopping together will seem like a party. Let's think about when the coffees will return to the bar, the small talk, the photos close to each other. We think about when it will be all a memory but normality will seem an unexpected and beautiful gift. We will love everything that has so far seemed futile to us. Every second will be precious. Swims at the sea, the sun until late, sunsets, toasts, laughter. We will go back to laughing together. Strength and courage."

    On this same theme, I’d also like to commend our CFBN member Mars Wrigley for their Extra Gum “When It’s Time” advertising that so perfectly captures the joy of reconnecting. If you haven’t seen it, please click and take a look at its humorous and poignant take.

    In short, as Chicagoland, the country and the world opens, I hope that we can all take a moment to appreciate the important connections between us all, and to savor re-connecting with the people and the world around us. To assist with this, CFBN will begin returning to in-person events starting this September.  We truly can’t wait to see you all!  Stay tuned as we make the necessary updates and roll out the revised calendar of events through the end of this year and into 2022. 

    As transitioning events will take some time, we will continue to keep the network connected and growing through high quality virtual events.  We hope that you’ll continue to join us – in fact, next week’s Innovation Series: Taste the Trends -- Rebuilding & Reinventing is a perfect way to celebrate what we have learned from the pandemic and chart a course forward into the future.  Click below for details and registration.  We hope you’ll join us – and we look forward to reconnecting in-person in the very near future.

    Best Regards,

    Alan Reed

    CFBN Executive Director

  • 21 Jun 2021 3:45 PM | Anna Briggs-Pirila

    The full re-opening of restaurants, cafes, and related foodservice businesses is at the heart of our cities and communities. Learn More, here

    The food and beverage industry was directly impacted by the rapid and unexpected changes in restaurant and at-home consumption over the past year. Now, with Chicago fully re-opening and the beautiful summer weather here, people are eager to dine out and excited to try unique flavors and food trends. As our industry continues to recover and re-engage to meet consumer demands, it is more important than ever to stay connected and informed with the latest news and trends.

    To provide you with the latest trends, we are excited to feature a lineup of industry experts at our upcoming Innovation Series event Taste the Trends: 2021 - Rebuilding & Reinventing. Join us to explore how evolving tastes, changing menus, and innovation across companies will help foodservice and the larger food industry rebuild in 2021 and beyond!

     * Reserve your tasting lunchbox highlighting the savory Farmer's Fridge Red Chile Braised Pork Bowl by Chef Rick Bayless and tasty chips and guacamole. Try these innovative menu items during our exclusive Fireside Taste and Chat with Farmer's Fridge CEO and Founder Luke Saunders

  • 14 Jun 2021 3:41 PM | Anna Briggs-Pirila

    Restaurant workforce insight 

    By Jodie Jacobs - Dining Out - Eating In

    Now that states are opening up businesses to inside visits and dining, restauranteurs are concerned about sufficient staffing and some diners are saying they understand but service is not not the same as pre pandemic.

    Restaurant Business’ Bottom Line newsletter spotlights data on the challenge and Chicagoland Food and Beverage Network’s Connection Series is addressing the issues in an upcoming virtual conference.

    According to data in a recent Bottom Line, the restaurant business “accounts for one out of every 10 jobs in the U.S.” and  that federal data just released said “the industry added 186,000 jobs in May,”  adding up to “one out of every three jobs the economy.”

    A check with restauranteurs in the Chicago area showed that they still had take out and delivery orders but more guests were returning for inside dining.

    CFBN panel at previous conference. (Photo from CFBN archives)

    CFBN panel at previous conference. (Photo from CFBN archives)

    To hear industry experts on the challenges of doing better than just surviving the changing economic and social aspects of eating in and dining out check the Chicagoland Food & Beverage Network’s The Workforce Shift , June 15. from 8  to 9:30 AM CT. The conference looks at new employee and consumer expectations.

    Speakers include: 

    Greg Benefield, Managing Director, National Food & Beverage Segment Leader, Marsh

    Michael Fassnacht, Chief Marketing Officer, City of Chicago; President & CEO, World Business Chicago

    Lisa Johnson, Managing Director, Kincannon & Reed

    Babatu Short, Vice President of Human Resources, HARIBO of America, Inc.

    Margaret Sofio, Chief People Officer, Blommer Chocolate Company

    Followed by a choice of breakout sessions.

  • 3 Jun 2021 12:03 PM | Anna Briggs-Pirila

    Recent ransomware attacks have underscored that cybersecurity is a business issue, not an IT one. Now is a good time to check that your organization is implementing the right security measures to avoid or mitigate these sophisticated attacks.

    Read CohnReznick's list of steps that can help keep your systems, data, operations, and extended enterprise safe.


    Contact: Bhavesh Vadhani, Principal, National Director, Cybersecurity, Technology Risk, and Privacy 


  • 4 May 2021 3:39 PM | Anna Briggs-Pirila

    There’s a new contender in the chicken sandwich wars but with a refreshing twist! Shake Shack introduced a Korean Style Fried Chick’n Sandwich, and in true #foodie form, the peeps at Dempsey Food went in face-first to investigate!

    Since Dempsey Food supplies authentic gochujang, kimchi and other Korean ingredients to food manufacturers, they took it upon themselves to provide their professional opinion on the big question: How is it?!

    Pretty interesting, huh?! Learn more, here.

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