Hands-on plant-based chicken-tasting experience at Unconventional Ag

Topsfield, Mass., September 21, 2022 – Headlining the packed agenda for this year’s 8th annual Unconventional Ag event in Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 29-30, is a plant-based chicken texture sensory panel presented by researchers from the Department of Food Science and Nutrition from the Sensory Center at the University of Minnesota.

In this hands-on session, several alternative chicken options – perhaps comprised of extruded soy or mycelia (mushrooms), gluten, or pea protein – will be introduced and participants will be asked to compare and converse with their tablemates, rating attributes and intensities and deciding: Is this too chewy? Tough? Not juicy enough? Or perhaps a perfect substitution? A lively Q&A will follow as researchers present the challenges facing adoption of these meat alternatives and discuss the creation of these food options. This interactive session will be presented by Professor Zata Vickers and her colleagues from the Sensory Center at the University of Minnesota, where they provide a full range of sensory and consumer testing, including test design, and data analysis interpretation and reporting to clients that include food companies and researchers.


Complementing this dynamic session are the following presentations and discussions at this event that features innovative, sustainable and value-added opportunities for farmers, grain handlers, processors, procurement groups, startups, equipment/technology providers, and more.

  • Structural Material Shortages, Historically High Prices and Extreme Volatility are Now the Norm! In this in-depth analysis of the volatile ag industry, David Hightower, president and founder, The Hightower Report, will provide analysis on how a multi-decade lack of investment in commodities, a revival of sustained inflation, and serious reductions of Ukraine and Russian commodity supply entrench the potential for explosive price gains. This “forewarned is forearmed” presentation will define the macro and micro playing field for 2023 from inside and outside of the commodities space.

  • Reducing Ag’s Impact on Climate Change. Hear from the Deputy Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), USDA National Organic Program, Dr. Jennifer Tucker, as she outlines advances that the public-private partnership of organic certification is collaborating on to allow farmers implementing the USDA organic standards to maximize the use of natural materials, protect natural resources, maintain and improve water and soil quality, and protect biodiversity.

  • Strategies and Innovations to Enhance the Viability of Plant Proteins. Listen as B. Pam Ismail, PhD, professor and director of the Plant Protein Innovation Center (PPIC) at the University of Minnesota, reviews the growing demand for plant-based, novel and sustainably sourced protein ingredients and addresses their functionality limitations, which are hindering market growth. Food companies in particular will benefit from this deep dive into what will enable successful utilization of plant protein in various food applications.

Other topics on the agenda at Unconventional Ag include an outlook of the organic and non-GMO marketplace with Mercaris; a discussion on storage, logistics and the power of strategic distribution from JZ Trucking, Inc. & High Caliber Transloading and Storage; and sowing the seeds of confidence from farm and fork with the Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance (SSGA).


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Formerly known as the Organic & Non-GMO Forum, the newly refocused Unconventional Ag event is hosted by HighQuest Partners, and is the source to discover and gain intelligence on the growing number of alternative options and practices across the ag supply chain. Please visit unconventionalag.com for more information.

NOTE: Image by FreePik