Collage of photographs from the food and beverage career event

Business Careers in Food and Beverage 2019

The Lundquist College’s Mohr Career Services presented Business Careers in Food and Beverage 2019 to foster learning and connections between food and beverage industry professionals and students interested in the field. Open to all majors, participating students were treated to product demos, an expert panel, keynote, and networking mixer on January 31, 2019, at the Lillis Business Complex and University of Oregon’s Jordan Schnitzer Art Museum.

Kicking things off were tabling representatives from Alma Catering, Barcast, Captain Soup, Coconut Bliss, E & J Gallo, Glory Bee, The Hershey Company, K & F Coffee, Ninkasi Brewing Company, NuNaturals, Pitchfork Kitchen Incubator, Riff Cold Brew, Run Gum, Sohr, Toby’s Family Foods, Yogi Tea, and Young Mountain Tea.

“Walking into Lillis it was hard to miss all the tables,” said Emily Reinwald, an 2019 MBA candidate in sports marketing. She also wanted to support fellow MBA candidate Brian Gaudette of Captain Soup.

“I’m involved in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, but I recognize the role that the food and beverage industry plays within the sports field,” Reinwald said. “It was definitely great to get exposure to that and to learn more about how their companies operate, so I can use that information moving forward in my career.”

Junior Juliana Rosenfeld is studying public relations at the School of Journalism and Communication. She decided to attend the Business Careers in Food and Beverage event with friends after receiving an email and encouragement from a friend’s business professor.

“There’s a lot of diversity at this event. I talked to one local honey farmer company, and I also talked to Hershey’s,” she said. “Talking with both local and international companies was really valuable. There was a lot of differences in the positions available as well.”

Briana Buckles plans to graduate in June with an MBA specialization in sustainable business practices. She connected with a company at the Business Careers in Food and Beverage event last year, and now she works as a market and risk surveillance analyst at Yogi Tea.

“Career-wise, what I was interested in matched up well with one of the speakers from Yogi,” she said.

Later, when the opportunity for mentorship arose through Mohr Career Services to be partnered with the speaker from Yogi Tea, Buckles jumped at the chance.

“I maintained my connection with her throughout the past year, and I started working at Yogi about three weeks ago,” Buckles said.

This year an industry panel titled, “Market Disruption in Food/Beverage Industry” was moderated by Edwin E. and June Woldt Cone Senior Instructor II of Management Beth Hjelm. The panel featured Alan Turanski, president of Glorybee; Darcey Howard, marketing director of Coconut Bliss; Chris Hazen, director of development at Toby’s Family Foods; and Jaclyn Rudebeck, director of people operations at Ninkasi Brewing Company.

Closing the evening, Micah Elconin, MBA ’12, and food and beverage sector strategist for the Lane County Sector Strategy Team, interviewed Lori Spencer, founder of Oregon Chai. Elconin noted Oregon Chai was at the center of the ’90s Pacific Northwest food and beverage boom.

“When we started Oregon Chai in 1994, we thought New York was the place for consumer products and food companies,” Spencer said. “But no, we could do this. We could pave the way for alternative beverages.”

She explained “chai” means tea in many languages. From day one, the company wanted to produce an Americanized version of chai. Americans like sweet, explained Spencer, and the firm needed a recipe that tasted good hot or cold in order to achieve year-round sales.

In 1994, Starbucks was drawing in new customers with the latte, she said. The team realized their product could crossover from the tea market and enjoy some of the same buzz with its Oregon Chai Latte.

With their product in repurposed pickle jars, Spencer and her partner stood on the corner of NW 23rd Ave. in Portland or in front of Powell’s Books, begging passersby to give it a try. To their delight, people loved it.

With a lot of passion, perseverance, and distributing directly from their cars to coffee shops, Oregon Chai landed its first retail account at Nature’s, a pre-curser to New Seasons Market. Oregon Chai was purchased by the international brand Kerry Group in 2004 and is now available throughout the country and beyond.


—AnneMarie Knepper-Sjoblom ’05, Lundquist College Communications