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Where Next for Hemp & CBD?

A FoodNavigator-USA editorial webinar

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Start Date:May 20, 2020

Start Time:11:30am CT (Chicago)

Duration:60 minutes


Explore the market for foods and beverages containing hemp-derived CBD to learn what might distinguish the winners from the losers in this market, how to navigate the regulatory landscape, how retailers are viewing the opportunity, what consumers are looking for, and how COVID-19 is impacting consumer behavior and shelf resets, with The Vitamin Shoppe, Recess, Mood33, Ojai Energetics, and Eversheds Sutherland.


T Hasagawa Prinova
Sweegen Applied Food Science


Ben Witte

Founder and CEO

Benjamin Witte is the founder and CEO of Recess, a design-driven consumer wellness and lifestyle brand creating products and experiences that help people feel balanced and inspired so that they can be their most productive, creative selves - despite an increasingly stressful world. Prior to Recess, Witte served as a Partner at Life Capital and Head of Mobile at AdRoll. He serves on the Board of Directors for the US Hemp Roundtable, the main industry coalition pushing the hemp industry forward.

Eric Schnell


Eric has been a natural product industry pioneer for 20+ years and counting. With diverse experience in sales, marketing and new product launches, he enjoys taking ideas from scratch and turning them into viable businesses that make a global impact, through his consulting agency BeyondBrands. Eric launched mood33, a cannabis and hemp infused beverage brand in 2018, which is a recognized as a leading pioneer in the CannaBev category. He is the co-founder of Steaz, a leading organic tea brand that was strategically acquired in 2016 as well as a member of Runa tea which was successfully sold in 2018. He is also co-founder of plant-based brands Good Catch and Cool Beans, and recipient of the 2007 ‘Sustainable Business of the Year Award.’ 6-time Annual Winner of the and Beverage Digest ‘Best Product of the Year Award,’ a Top 50 Beverage World Disruptor and an active Nutrition Capital Network selection committee member.

Greg Kaufman

Eversheds Sutherland

Greg Kaufman defends clients in government investigations, and enforcement and litigation matters, with particular experience in energy and commodities enforcement matters. He also advises energy, commodities, and securities industry clients on regulatory developments, compliance and operational risk issues, and conducts internal investigations.

Greg’s clients include US and international food and beverage companies (and other commodity end users), commodity merchandisers, energy companies, hedge funds, insurance companies, exchange-traded funds, brokerage firms, business development companies and investment banks. He has represented companies and individuals in litigation and enforcement activities involving the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the CME Group of exchanges (CME), the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice.

Greg is co-team leader of Eversheds Sutherland’s Global Cannabis Industry team. Marrying his expertise in agricultural commodities with a deep understanding of the highly regulated cannabis industry, Greg helps industry participants and service providers navigate overlapping and, often, conflicting state and federal regulatory regimes to achieve their business goals. Greg is a frequent speaker on the legal and regulatory issues confronting the diverse cannabis industry. He is also a co-author of a soon-to-be published book on the state of cannabis in the United States.

Sharon M. Leite

Chief Executive Officer
The Vitamin Shoppe

Sharon M. Leite currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of The Vitamin Shoppe. In this role, she leads a renewed growth strategy that is bringing industry-leading innovation, quality and expertise to the wellness category. Ms. Leite joined The Vitamin Shoppe in August 2018 and since that time has launched a new technology-driven retail format, expanded distribution to new channels, reimagined the loyalty program, introduced personalization initiatives, increased penetration of private brands and pioneered an expansive CBD hemp extract merchandising program.

The Vitamin Shoppe, a subsidiary of Franchise Group Inc., is an omni-channel specialty retailer and wellness lifestyle Company with more than 750 directly operated stores and an e-commerce business. Based in Secaucus, New Jersey, the Company offers a comprehensive assortment of nutritional solutions, including vitamins, minerals, specialty supplements, herbs, sports nutrition, homeopathic remedies, green living products, and natural beauty aids.

Ms. Leite joined The Vitamin Shoppe from Godiva Chocolatier, where she was President of North America from October 2017, leading a turnaround that returned the North American business to profitability.

Previously, Ms. Leite was the President of Sally Beauty, US and Canada, an international specialty retailer and distributor of professional beauty products. Ms. Leite also spent close to a decade at Pier 1 Imports in increasingly senior roles, leaving as Executive Vice President of Sales, Customer Experience and Real Estate.

Earlier in her career, Ms. Leite held leadership positions with increasing responsibilities at Bath & Body Works (L Brands), Gap Inc., The Walt Disney Company and Express.

Ms. Leite currently serves on the Boards of The National Retail Federation, Tandy Leather, Performing Arts Fort Worth, and the Neeley Business School at Texas Christian University. She is also a member of the Senior Advisory Council of AEA Investors.

Will Kleidon

Ojai Energetics

Will Kleidon is the founder and CEO of Ojai Energetics, an ethics driven health and wellness lifestyles company whose main focus is organic and science driven nutraceutical and medical food products. He is an effective and caring leader and systems thinker. He is a core consultant for the Evolver Network. This has resulted in him co-founding with Evolver Network an international heart-centered think tank that will launch in 2014 with partners including and Transition Town USA. As early as 17 he organized and implemented a sustainability fair which drew over 25 organizations and 500 attendees. Will studied permaculture in Australia, achieving the second highest nationally accredited certification in Permaculture Design.




An award-winning journalist with 20 years’ experience in multimedia business-to-business journalism and events management on both sides of the Atlantic, Elaine has covered a diverse range of topics from nutrigenomics to corporate espionage. Elaine moved from the UK to the US in 2011, and as editor of – a leading online b2b title in the US food and beverage industry – she has helped to establish the site as a pre-eminent source of news and analysis on hot button issues from cell-cultured meat and CBD to labeling conventions in plant-based foods and beverages.


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