Caleb Minx, a Business Scholar at Concordia University Wisconsin, demonstrates the importance of viscosity at the FaB career discovery event.

Hoping to inspire the next generation to consider careers in the food and beverage industry, Concordia University Wisconsin hosted the annual Farm to Factory to Fork career discovery event, a signature showcase event of the Food and Beverage Industry of Wisconsin (FaB).

More than 350 high school students and Wisconsin food exhibitors participated in a day of ideation, discussion, and tasting. While the event was stacked with delicious samples, hands-on activities, and shared stories about the beloved topic of food, the message of the day was clear, the food and beverage industry in Wisconsin is hiring

Representatives from Wisconsin’s top food manufacturing companies were on hand to talk with students.

and positioned for more growth.

According to FaB, one out of nine jobs in Wisconsin is related to food, and the industry represents $850 Billion in sales annually. Wisconsin is a leader in many food categories, including: organics, cheese, sausage, fruits and vegetables, and pizza. To maintain the jobs and revenue that the industry provides, a continuous pipeline of talent is required at every level, from grower to harvester, manufacturer to retailer, and server to consumer.

According to FaB Wisconsin Executive Director, Shelley Jurewicz, “Everyone has to eat and drink and that will never go away. At events like this we hope to connect students to the foods they love and to the manufacturers who produce them so that they are exposed to the endless career opportunities in the industry.”

Shelley Jurewicz, executive director of FaB Wisconsin, welcomes guests to the Farm to Factory to Fork event at Concordia University Wisconsin.

As the world’s population rapidly expands, FaB anticipates that food production must double by 2050 to sustain the projected population. Innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship will be key components for future sustainability. Concordia’s newly announced Master in Product Development (MPD) program, Food and Beverage (F&B) track has been developed to help create food and beverage solutions.

This graduate program, the only one of its kind in Wisconsin, will combine the service and the science components of product development to prepare students to be entrepreneurs in the ever-growing food and beverage industry.

This hands-on program guides students through the food and beverage development process from concept to marketplace. Alongside industry leaders, students will work in the labs, in the field, and in the classroom to learn the technical skills and obtain the business knowledge to start their own companies. It is designed to be a blend of business, science, marketing, and culinary arts.

According to Associate Dean Dr. Matthew Hurtienne “Concordia is committed to helping the State of Wisconsin stay leaders in this industry by providing education, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, so that students can come up with innovative solutions and businesses.”

Hands-on exhibits were offered to students throughout the event.

The MPD F&B program is offered through the Batterman School of Business and will be housed in The Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center, the new state-of-the art academic building scheduled to open in fall. The Plaster Center will house a culinary kitchen, 3D printers, labs, collaboration spaces, and focus group rooms to equip students throughout their product development process.

The MPD in F&B will be offered online and in-person on the main campus, 12800 N. Lake Shore Drive, Mequon. It is a two-year program with a thesis project that will result in an actual corporate partner or product launch.

— Lisa Liljegren is vice president of marketing and strategic communications.

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