Mr. Blankenbaker has been leading the development of high Reb-A Stevia farming in Vietnam, where he imported the Morita variety to trial in 2008 and in 2009 signed a contract to supply stevia leaf to PureCircle, the industry's leading refiner. Mr. Blankenbaker first became involved in commercial agriculture in 2002 when he began working with the Agri-Food Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) to provide strategically important food supplies to Singapore. Prior to that Mr. Blankenbaker co-wrote and co-presented a bid for the U.S. Navy Subsistence Prime Vendor (SPV) Contract valued at USD $197 million covering three zones of Japan, Singapore, and Diego Garcia. The contract was awarded in 2002 and the Singapore and Diego Garcia portion is currently supported by the Rong-Yao group, a partner company based in Singapore.
During the 1990s Mr. Blankenbaker traded commodities and was an independent consultant and analyst for Standard Chartered Bank and Reuters and was on the implementation team that established Globex in Singapore linking the Singapore International Monetary Exchange with the Chicago Board of Trade. Mr. Blankenbaker began his career in Singapore in 1990 as a commodities analyst and also established a food import/export company which established itself as the leading importer and distributor of two categories before being merged into current operations. In 1986 Mr. Blankenbaker accompanied the Chairman of the finance department of his University to Asia for six months to study the development of the Asian Financial markets. Mr. Blankenbaker was raised on a farm in Indiana.
Education: Bachelor of Science, Business Finance; In-depth: Asian Political Science, Indiana University, 1988
Mr. Cook owns and operates Ag-View Consulting LLC, of Olympia, WA, where his experiences include working with the largest refiner of stevia in the world to direct and support the development of stevia breeding programs as well as to assist in trial agreements for expansion of the growing regions for global stevia initiatives. He has assisted both growers and marketers by developing training and education processes that offer alternative markets for a variety of crops; has provided expert testimony, crop and market analysis for the blueberry industry, provided third party verification and review of vision, strategy, operational and research initiatives for improvement and expansion of prune and raspberry development in Chile. He was previously CEO and President of the multinational partnership, Naturipe Foods, LLC, and prior to that as CEO and President of Producer Marketing Company (Overlake Foods Corp.), and as President of Chilean owned (US based) Hortifrut NA; as Managing Partner at Pan-American Berry Growers LLC, and in a variety of leadership positions at MBG Marketing, the largest blueberry grower’s cooperative in the world. He has received several industry awards and actively participates in a number of industry and community initiatives.
Education: M. Sc. with Honors in Horticulture and a B.S. with Honors in Resource Development at Michigan State University.
Dr. Erat leads a citrus processing corporation with the vision to develop India as an alternative source for frozen concentrated orange juice (“FCOJ”) while simultaneously lecturing on corporate strategy at the Department of Management, Technology, and Economics at ETH, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Zurich). Previously he was founder and managing partner of Wellspring Consulting (Zurich) which provided innovative strategic solutions for corporations. He also co-founded Executive Insight AG (Zug) specializing in the healthcare industry. He was also instrumental in the creation of several technology firms specializing in knowledge management technology and online mobile payment solutions.
Education: Master’s degree in Strategy and Organization and Doctorate at the Institute of Management (IFB) at the University of St. Gallen (St. Gallen, Switzerland).
Director of Operations, Asia.
Mr. Ong currently serves as a Director of the Singapore registered farm management firm Growers Synergy Pte Ltd, an agriculture consultancy and farm management company holding land leases in Indonesia and Vietnam producing crops for the domestic and export markets. He is concurrently a director of A.D. Venture Limited, a Singapore-registered fund investment and management company with operating arms in Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Previously, Mr. Ong served 5 years with the Ministry of the Environment and subsequently joined the National Environment Agency (NEA) and worked with the Economic Development Board (EDB), International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore), Workforce Development Agency (WDA) and related industry groups to promote high value environmental services to the domestic and international markets.
Education: Bachelor of Business Administration, National University of Singapore, 1995 and Master of Science in Information Studies from Nanyang Technological University, 2000.
Chief Technical Advisor
Founded Guangzhou Health China Technology Development Company Limited operating under the trade name Tech-New Bio-Technology (“TechNew”) as the result of collaboration beginning in 1996 with the Jilin Agricultural University and South China Agricultural University. Zhang Ji has led TechNew to a number of strategic achievements with successful and sustained economic growth in the development of specialized ecological fertilizers, microbiological preparations and management systems for the agriculture and aquaculture industry principally for markets within China. This has also led to his ongoing participation in numerous agricultural, environmental, ecological, scientific and community development projects, in collaboration with national and international government agencies, universities, research institutes and private sector organizations. His previous experience included a period as chairman of a noted computer technology firm and a position on the board of a regional foreign economic relations commission as well as government service efforts. He earned an MBA from the American Management University of Science and Technology (UMT), and Doctorate in Business Administration from the Victoria University of Switzerland / China, and was a visiting scholar at Harper Adams University (HAUC) in 2010.
Technical Advisor – Vietnam R&D and Propagation Center
Dr. Dan is an expert horticultural researcher, engineer and scientist specializing in biotechnology driven genetic research and leading edge plant breeding technologies. He was previously the principal research engineer and project manager for the R&D Center - IC Food Co., Ltd and the University Industry Collaboration Foundation program at Chungnam National University in Korea. Beginning 1992 through 1997 he commenced his efforts with the genetics department, faculty of biology, Hanoi National University where he developed a thesis which led to intensive research into plant tissues and cell cultures for the Center for Experimental Biology at the National Center for Technological Progress (NACENTECH) from 1998 to 2005, eventually leading to advanced studies into molecular genetics & genomics at the Department of Horticulture, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Chungnam National University (2005-2007), which led to eventual doctoral studies and completion of his PhD in the field.
Technical Advisor, Aquaculture
Mr. Kaelin brings over 30 years of international development consulting and commercial agribusiness experience with a specialization in fisheries, aquaculture, and food safety. He has started up, owned, operated and advised private commercial agribusiness ventures and cooperatives in Africa, Asia, the former Soviet Union, and Latin America. His commercial and consulting experience extends all along the supply chain from primary production to value added products for end consumers. Over the last 24 years, Mr. Kaelin has provided consulting services to the World Bank on hundreds of millions of dollars of investments in sustainable fisheries, aquaculture and coastal resources management in China, Mexico and currently in Indonesia. Mr. Kaelin is Managing Director of AIS Aqua Foods, Inc, a seafood production and marketing company. He is also responsible for the developing country program of the International Coalition of Fisheries Associations (ICFA) that currently has activities in the countries of Morocco, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Uganda, and has advised the Government of Mauritius. Mr. Kaelin holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Zoology from the University of Miami, a Master’s degree in International Management from Thunderbird, and has completed graduate coursework in Development and Agriculture Economics at the University of Colorado. Mr. Kaelin is a member of the Global Aquaculture Alliance, The National Fisheries Institute and has been a regular speaker at the annual China Fisheries and Seafood Exposition and the annual Global Shrimp Outlook conference (GOAL), also the 2013 Global Seafood Marketing Conference.
Director of Operations, Peoples Republic of China (PRC)
Mr. Tan brings over eight years of direct China based business experience, principally in Shanghai, Suzhou and Tianjin. He has over eleven years of management experiences in directing and leading a variety of teams and companies in a number of senior management positions including Group General Manager of Shin Tai Ho Group and Director & General Manager of Growers Synergy. For a period of 5 years, he also managed P&L responsibilities for Fortune 500 companies, SCA Packaging and International Paper, located in Singapore and China as General Manager. As functional Director with SCA Asia Pacific, he directed business intelligence & corporate communications activities across 14 countries in the region and supported the Group in strategic planning and Merger & Acquisition. Mr. Tan earned a BSc. at the National University of Singapore (1999) and was awarded a Fellowship by Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry and Jurong Town Corporation to study for an MBA co-offered by Fudan University and MIT Sloan School of Management in Shanghai (2003). Mr. Tan is a resident and citizen of Singapore.
General Manger (PRC)
Mr. Lin enjoys over eighteen years of general management, business development, sales and engineering experience working with four Shanghai-based foreign and local enterprises focused on the China marketplace. His career also includes nine years of management experience including six years focused on selecting and growing manufacturing partner relationships. During this period, he served in various managerial roles as General Manager, Division Manager and Business Development Manager for different divisions of the Fargo Group in China. Prior to this, he was a Sales Engineer for Wagner GmbH and Jebsen & Co representative offices in Shanghai. Mr. Lin received a BSc. from Shanghai JiaoTong University (1990) and an MBA from Fudan University and MIT Sloan School of Management (2003) in Shanghai. Mr. Lin is a resident of Shanghai and Chinese citizen.