This quarter, Ag Innovation News highlights its newest board member, Jeff Grev. He is AURI’s second Director-at-Large and has extensive experience in consumer products marketing and new product development thanks to his 25 year career. In this interview, Mr. Grev shares his thoughts on AURI, the food sector and what he sees in the future for both.
AIN: Please tell our readers a little about your background.
JG: I grew up in Shakopee, Minnesota and my parents were the first generation off the farm which led to frequent visits with relatives still operating farms. I was fortunate to join Hormel Foods after graduating from the University of Minnesota -Carlson School of Business. I found the down-to-earth culture and people at Hormel were a great match for me. I’ve had multiple career experiences; starting out with 5 years in sales & sales training, moving to 15 years of more in depth experience in consumer products marketing and new product development, followed by about 10 years in new business development & acquisitions, and finally 5 years in Government Affairs.
AIN: How did you first hear about AURI?
JG: A few years ago, Hormel Foods was contacted about collaborating with AURI on new initiatives by Executive Director Shannon Schlecht.
AIN: What are your goals as a new board member?
JG: My primary goal is to make AURI as effective and efficient as possible in helping entrepreneurs bring new products/ businesses to the market that meet a need and are successfully sustained.
AIN: What do you think is the biggest challenge faced by the food and agricultural ecosystems today?
JG: Growing enough food to feed everyone while protecting the environment. We need to achieve a balance that encourages increasing agricultural productivity and protection of our natural resources.
AIN: Which food-related issues are most important to you?
JG: Honesty and transparency in food marketing is important to me. Utilizing science based guidance and regulations to keep consumers appropriately informed is just common sense which we should take to heart.
AIN: What motivated you to join the AURI board of directors?
JG: I have a high interest in innovation related to food products and adding value to agricultural commodities through convenience & improved attributes which differentiate them in the marketplaces. I worked extensively in marketing and new product development for Hormel Foods earlier in my career and enjoyed the challenge. I hope to provide evaluation and insights that are helpful to AURI and the entrepreneurs and innovators they assist.
AIN: How can Minnesota best support its food innovation industry?
JG: Make Minnesota an attractive home base for new business with friendly tax systems, laws & regulations; and continue to provide resources, such as AURI, to provide the assistance and stimulation to encourage entrepreneurialism. Also, it’s important to continue supporting the great universities and colleges that provide world class programs in areas of study that are critical to the food industry.
AIN: What do you want to achieve as a new board member?
JG: Successfully collaborate with the rest of the AURI board and other entities to maintain and improve Minnesota’s leadership in the food and agriculture space.