Media Contacts

Government Communications and Public Engagement

Ministry of Agriculture
250 356-7098


Speakers at the B.C. Agrifood and Seafood Conference

A complete conference program with speaker names and topics is at:

Keynote Speaker Nov. 14

Chef Vikram Vij – B.C. restaurateur, food processing entrepreneur, celebrity chef and Food Network host.

Nov. 15 Speakers

Agrifood & Seafood Entrepreneurs and Businesses. These speakers know firsthand what it takes to be part of the local food economy and community in B.C., they grow, produce and sell food here.

  • Peter van Stolk, CEO –
  • John Nishidate, general manager – Grand Hale Marine Products
  • Marilyn Hutchinson, director HR, Sustainability & Growth – Grieg Seafood
  • Steve Hughes, CEO – St. Jean’s Cannery & Smokehouse
  • Dwayne Stewart, manager – BC Hop Company
  • Pamela Ambriz, director, new product development – Vitalus Nutrition Inc.
  • Jerry Keulen, owner – Seabreeze Farm

Agritech and Business Development. These speakers can connect new farmers and businesses with the people, support and technology they need to succeed.

  • Timothy Kendrick, president and chief designer – BW GLOBAL Structures Inc.
  • Dave Smardon, president and CEO – Bioenterprise
  • Raymond Szabada, founder and chairman of the board – SRCTec
  • Chris Bush, president, Catalyst Agri-Innovations Society
  • Matt Dickson, managing director – Hallbar Consulting
  • Matt Thurston, senior relationship manager – Agribusiness and Agri-Food Division, Farm Credit Canada
  • Chris Henderson, CPA,CA – Rossworn Henderson LLP
  • Ken Beattie, executive director – BC Craft Brewers Guild

Buyers, Distribution and Retail. Companies that buy and sell local products on a large scale, can be a key player in building the demand and consumption of local foods.

  • Jeff Nadon, local developer – Sobey’s
  • Robert Cunningham, manager, business development – Sysco Canada
  • Carlos Machado, vendor development manager for western Canada – Loblaw Companies Ltd.
  • Victoria Wakefield, director procurement – UBC

Government Representatives. Government has a role to play in developing and adopting policies that can support local businesses, encourage British Columbians to buy and grow local agrifood products, and promote the export of BC agrifood and seafood products.

  • Norm Letnick, B.C. Minister of Agriculture
  • Jeff Lang, senior marketing and trade officer – Agriculture and Agri-food Canada
  • Rishi Sharma, director, corporate initiatives – B.C. Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training
  • Michael Ansara, account manager – Export Development Canada
  • Chelsea Himsworth, veterinary diagnostic pathologist – B.C. Ministry of Agriculture
  • Theresa Duynstee, regional planner – Metro Vancouver

Research and Policy. Science, crop trials, preparing for climate change and on the farm research can all lead to breakthroughs in the production of local foods.

  • Brent Mansfield, director – BC Food Systems Network
  • Sean Smukler, assistant professor – University of British Columbia
  • Emily MacNair, manager, adaptation programming – BC Agriculture & Food Climate Action Initiative
  • Catalina Lopez-Correa, president - Genome British Columbia
  • Leonard Foster, Michael Smith Laboratories and Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology – University of British Columbia
  • Trish Schulte, professor of zoology – University of British Columbia
  • Lorraine McIntyre, food safety specialist – BC Centre for Disease Control
  • Jill Hobbs, professor, agricultural and resource economics – University of Saskatchewan
  • Lisa Powell, postdoctoral researcher – Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm
  • Denise Neilsen, research scientist – Agriculture and Agri-food Canada

Marketing and Branding. Having great products is one thing, but letting people know about them is another. These speakers offer B.C. companies tips on connecting with the consumer.

  • Rob Newell, VP Brand Strategy – Karacters Design Group
  • Braden Douglas, founding partner – Crew Marketing Partners Inc.
  • Suthamie Poologasingham, director, U.S. Marketing & Research – J.C. Williams Group
Exhibitors at the B.C. Agrifood and Seafood Conference

Exhibitors at the B.C. Agrifood and Seafood Conference include companies using new production practices and technology as well as key B.C. retailers and distributors.

Agritech businesses in B.C. on the leading edge of new processes or technology

  • Aerobotika: Developed unmanned aviation technology (drones) to provide farmers with professional imagery, mapping, and crop analytics to increase agricultural competitiveness.
  • BW GLOBAL: Created greenhouses that use innovative and advanced materials to increase food production.
  • Ecoation Innovative Solutions Inc.: Developed an intelligent pest monitoring system that can increase agricultural competitiveness by detecting pest and disease problems, and enabling growers to address infestation concerns quickly and proactively.
  • MyGreenSpace: User-friendly mobile application to guide food production and accelerate the transition to a sustainable food system.
  • Sunshine Coast Aquaponics: Largest commercial aquaponics operation in British Columbia with an integrated aquaculture and hydroponic vegetable farm.

B.C. agri-businesses and organizations with innovative production practices, or pursuing an emerging trend

  • Big Mountain Foods: Developed an alternative meat-free product based on cauliflower without soy or gluten, offering a new option for the consumer.
  • Golden Eagle Sablefish: Developed a land-based-recirculating aquaculture system in the lower mainland, and developed a new sablefish aquaculture system.
  • NutraEx: Developed a new sweetener known as Stevia for consumers interested in reducing their sugar consumption.
  • Nutriva Group: Uses innovative and sustainable dairy farming practices including a system of renewable energy (anaerobic digester), a robotic milker and the EcoDairy demonstration farm in partnership with Science World.
  • Spa Hills Compost: Provides a weekly pick-up service for compostable food waste and produces chemical-free fertilizer, the final link in the chain to a full-circle green solution.
  • Vitalus: Processor of milk protein concentrates and has developed the technology to get value out of its by-product .
  • B.C. Government’s Agricultural Land Use Inventories Demonstration:  The Ministry of Agriculture has developed tools and scenarios to demonstrate how GIS assists in improving our understanding of farming areas, help promote agricultural development and assist in identifying and handling issues important to strengthening farming.

Food distributors and retailers that can support increased local food and technology products growth

  • Choices Markets: B.C.-owned-and operated retailer of 11 stores with natural, organic and premium local products, and experience working with smaller-sized and local suppliers.
  • Kin’s Farm Market: Canadian-owned specialty produce retailer that comprises corporate and franchise stores with 29 locations in British Columbia.
  • Gordon Food Service: Leader in selling, marketing and distributing food products to restaurants, health-care and educational facilities.
  • Sysco Canada: Leader in selling, marketing and distributing food products to restaurants, health-care and educational facilities.