October Purchasing Seminar Speakers

Ankush Bhandari

Vice president of economic research
The Gavilon Group, LLC


Mr. Bhandari is vice president of economic research at The Gavilon Group, LLC, a leading agriculture, fertilizer and energy commodities management firm. He is responsible for the company’s grain, oilseed and biofuel industry research and analysis. He began his career with ConAgra Trade Group, Gavilon’s predecessor, in 1997 as a research analyst and later moved into a financial trading role for nearly 10 years. He has been a keynote speaker and presenter at various conferences in the United States, Europe, South East Asia, Mexico and South America. He has also delivered market outlook presentations at various industry associations and roundtables. He received both his bachelor and master of business administration degrees in finance from Emory University in Atlanta.

Scott Colbert

Vice president and director of fixed income and chief economist
The Commerce Trust Co.

Mr. Colbert is the chief economist and director of fixed income management with The Commerce Trust Co. He joined Commerce in 1993 and has investment responsibilities for over $28 billion in fixed income assets. He directly manages the Commerce Short-Term Government and the flagship Commerce Bond strategies. Prior to joining Commerce Bank, he worked for The Cincinnati Gas and Electric Company, Fifth Third Bank, and ARMCO Inc. He received his bachelor of science degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Cincinnati and a master of business administration degree from Xavier University. 

Robbie Fraser

Senior commodity analyst
Schneider Electric

Robbie Fraser is a senior commodity analyst for Schneider Electric’s Energy and Sustainability Services (ESS) business, specializing in crude oil, natural gas and global energy trends. Robbie leverages a combination of qualitative and quantitative market intel in order to provide fundamentally-driven forecasts and insight into the commodity side of energy. His commentary on oil and energy markets at large has been featured both online and in print by The Wall Street Journal, MarketWatch, Fox Business, Bloomberg and a number of other global publications.

Hugo van der Goes

Vice president of cocoa, North America
Barry Callebaut

Mr. van der Goes is the vice-president of cocoa, North America, for Barry Callebaut. In this role, he is responsible for the company’s North American cocoa business, including leadership of the commercial team, risk management and financial performance of the business. He is a member of Barry Callebaut’s global cocoa and the Americas leadership teams. Before joining Barry Callebaut, Mr. van der Goes worked for 16 years at Cargill in different senior management positions within the cocoa and chocolate division. His roles included responsibility for Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate commercial and cocoa sustainability functions. He currently is Chairman and board member of The Cocoa Merchants’ Association of America. Mr. van der Goes attended Erasmus University, Rotterdam (The Netherlands), where he received a master’s of science degree in economics and international marketing management.

Michael Irgang

President and owner
Global Risk Management

Mr. Irgang is president of Global Risk Management (GRM) where he leads business development and long-term business strategy. He also works with foodservice clients in designing and implementing commodity risk management programs. Prior to joining GRM as executive vice president in 2016 he was vice president and chief accounting officer of OSI Group LLC in 2013. Earlier, he spent 20 years at McDonald’s Corp. in the company’s treasury department, eventually working with the company’s supply chain, suppliers and owners/operators. He began his career in public accounting and banking. 

Lauren Jia

Managing director
Macquarie Bank

Lauren Jia is a Managing Director at Macquarie Bank, where she is responsible for providing commodities risk management solutions for consumers in the Food & Beverage, Consumer Products, and Industrial spaces. Her expertise includes designing financial hedging strategies, with special focus on resin and paper packaging, as well as agriculture, energy, and metal products. Prior to joining Macquarie, she worked at Barclays Bank and Lehman Brothers on the commodities trading desks. She is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in international economics.

Tyler Klain

Director of procurement
Kalsec Inc.

Mr. Klain is the director of procurement at Kalsec Inc., a global food and beverage ingredient company, where he has over a decade of global sourcing experience. He has a specialized focus on global origination of various natural spices and herbs with additional supply chain engagement at the farm level for both domestic and globally sourced raw materials. Mr. Klain grew up on his family farm and ranch in North Dakota. He received a dual degree in agricultural economics and Spanish at North Dakota State University and a master’s degree in agricultural economics at Oklahoma State University. 

Bill Lapp

Advanced Economic Solutions

Mr. Lapp has more than 30 years of experience in analyzing and forecasting economic conditions and commodity markets. In 2005, he formed Advanced Economic Solutions, and prior to that was vice president of economic research for ConAgra Foods. Advanced Economic Solutions provides economic and commodity analysis and offers forecasts and analysis for procurement, investment and risk management decisions. Mr. Lapp serves on the board of the Farm Foundation and the Kansas City Federal Reserve Board’s Center for the Study of Rural America. He is a member of the U.S.D.A. National Agricultural Statistics Service Advisory Board. He received a bachelor’s degree in math and computer science from Southern Illinois University, and a master’s degree in agricultural economics from Purdue University.

Mary Keough Ledman

Global sector strategist—dairy
RaboResearch Food and Agribusiness

Mary Keough Ledman has more than 20 years of experience in the dairy industry that includes production, processing and policy. She grew-up on a dairy farm in southern Wisconsin and has worked on farms in Germany, Japan and New Zealand. Her past work experience includes the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Kraft and Stella Foods. In 1995, she founded Keough Ledman Associates, a dairy economic consulting firm that provides monthly dairy product and milk price forecasting, economic and policy analysis, dairy product and milk sourcing strategies and domestic and international dairy market information. In April 2012, she took over the Daily Dairy Report when the CME discontinued their sponsorship of the report.  She received a master’s of science degree in agricultural economics from Texas A&M University and also received a Fulbright Fellowship to study the European Community’s dairy policy in Germany.

Drew Lerner

Senior agricultural meteorologist, Founder and President
World Weather, Inc.

Mr. Lerner is president and senior agricultural meteorologist of World Weather, Inc. He has been forecasting international weather for 40 years. He began his meteorology career in 1978 as he participated in an international effort to collect data and improve weather forecasting for the Asian monsoon. Since then, he has been supporting the agricultural industry by providing detailed short- and long-range weather predictions for each major crop area in the world. His daily assessments of crop and weather expectations supports commodity market trade and helps many companies make better agricultural business decisions. Mr. Lerner started World Weather, Inc. in 2001 after leading Global Weather Services in the late 1990s. Based in the Kansas City area, World Weather, Inc. supports an expanding group of clientele residing in North and South America, India, Europe, Africa and Australia.

Paul Meyers

Vice president of commodity analysis
Foresight Commodity Services, Inc.

Mr. Meyers is the vice president of commodity analysis for Foresight Commodity Services, Inc., which was formed along with Robert Lindon when The Connell Co. discontinued its commodity advisory service. Earlier, he was vice-president of commodity analysis at Connell Co., where he was responsible for commodity research, analysis and consulting services to segments of agribusiness. He has particular expertise in cocoa, sugar, corn, wheat, the soy complex and corn sweeteners. Before joining Connell, Mr. Meyers was a grains analyst for the World Agricultural Outlook Board of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was an economist with the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Minnesota.

Kara Nielsen

Director of food and beverage

Ms. Nielsen is director of the food and drink trends platform at WGSN, a global trend forecasting firm. An established food trend expert, Ms. Nielsen leads WGSN’s team of strategists in creating insightful reports and forecasts on global food and drink trends. She has years of experience in the strategic innovation sector, researching, writing and speaking about how to translate trends for new product development. She previously worked at CCD Innovation, Sterling-Rice Group and CEB Iconoculture Consumer Insights. She has experience as a restaurant pastry chef and holds a master’s degree in food studies.

Steve Nugent

Director of IQF, dried and export sales
Milne Fruit Products, Inc.

Mr. Nugent is director of IQF, dried and export sales, at Milne Fruit Products, where among other duties he is responsible for international business development. Prior to Milne, he was executive vice-president at Otsuka Foods, and earlier was national sales and marketing manager at Graceland Fruit. He also has worked at Holnam, Inc. and Arthur Andersen. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Michigan Technological University.

Jim Ritchie

President and chief executive officer
RedStone Logistics, LLC

Mr. Ritchie is president and chief executive officer of RedStone Logistics, LLC. He has more than 35 years in the logistics and supply chain management industry. Prior to Logistics Resource he was president of CHEP, president and CEO of YRC Logistics, and vice-president and general manager of Ryder. He also co-founded Meridian IQ, which he helped build into a $1.4 billion logistics company with 4,500 employees and operations in 26 countries. He received a bachelor’s degree in industrial design — architecture at California State University at Long Beach.

Craig Ruffolo

Vice president – commodity specialist
McKeany-Flavell Co.

Mr. Ruffolo is vice-president – commodity specialist of McKeany-Flavell, where he manages the information area of the business. He joined the company in 1995 and since that time has assisted domestic and multi-national clients in the commodity ingredients sector, including sugar and corn sweetener markets. Prior to McKeany-Flavell he spent two years at California Bancshares in Alameda, Calif., where he was an auditor of commercial and residential bank loans. He received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Knox College in Galesburg, Ill.

Kyle Schrad

Vice President – Global Dairy & Food Operations
StoneX Financial Inc. – FCM Division

Mr. Schrad, vice president of global dairy and food operations with StoneX Financial Inc., has extensive experience as an agricultural producer, having owned and operated a 500-acre corn and soybean farm in southern Minnesota since he was 18 years old. He joined FCStone’s Minneapolis office in January 2007 as a risk management consultant, working with grain elevators in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. In June 2008, he joined StoneX’s dairy group in Chicago where he has worked with producers, co-ops, processors, and commercial end users for the past 15 years. He currently leads the North American dairy trading group for StoneX. 

Amy Smith

Vice president
Advanced Economic Solutions

Ms. Smith is vice president of Advanced Economic Solutions. Prior to joining AES she was director of category management at SpenDifference. She also has worked as director of purchasing at Quiznos, sourcing specialist at Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Inc. and manager of commodity analysis and purchasing at Qdoba. She began her career as a national commodity specialist at Safeway. She received a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness at Oklahoma State University and a master’s degree in agribusiness at Texas A&M University.  

Josh Sosland

President, Sosland Publishing
Editor, Milling & Baking News and Food Business News

Josh Sosland is president of Sosland Publishing Company and editor of Milling & Baking News and Food Business News magazines. An editor for the past 35 years, Mr. Sosland was named assistant editor in 1983 and became associate editor of markets in 1985. Coverage of ingredient markets was Mr. Sosland’s principal responsibility for the next 12 years. He was promoted to senior editor, markets, in 1990, and in 1997 was named executive editor of Milling & Baking News. He was promoted to editor in 2004 and has been editor of Food Business News since that magazine’s inception in 2005. He was named president of Sosland Publishing in 2015. Mr. Sosland is a 1982 graduate of Harvard College with a A.B. degree in economics.

Adam Stout

Risk Management Consultant
StoneX Financial Inc. – FCM Division

Mr. Stout is a Risk Management Consultant for Stonex, where he specializes in offering risk management services to the livestock and meat industry. He joined the company back in 2005 and today helps his customer base of livestock producers, meat processors, and end users such as retail outlets and restaurant chains by providing consulting and advisory services as well as the execution of hedge strategies using exchange-traded futures and options and over-the-counter (OTC) instruments. He received both his Bachelor of Business Administration and mathematics degrees from William Jewell College in Liberty, MO.