The second annual FoodCon will take place next week, Wednesday, December 2, from 1-7 PM at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University in Durham. The event is organized by the Fuqua Food Forum in partnership with the Net Impact Club at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business.

Organizers anticipate upwards of 200 participants will join and participate in the second annual conference event, which aims to connect food science and agricultural companies with talented students and provide a forum for learning about food industry trends from experts in the field.

Students from local MBA programs at the Triangle’s universities are the primary audience, said conference organizer and current Duke MBA candidate Elysse Lane in an interview with WRAL Tech Wire, though the event is open to the public and organizers are welcoming the broader community to participate in the event as well.

“This is a very dynamic time in the food and agricultural industry,” said Lane, “There are a lot of rapid changes and challenges and in order to feed our growing population while minimizing negative consequences, we need good leaders in the industry.”

Business students are becoming more and more interested in food and agriculture, said Lane, and that has served as the impetus to organize and run the event. Last year’s event was held at UNC-Chapel Hill, and the hope for next year is that a student group at NC State University will play host. That way, said Lane, the conference can become an annual event that rotates through each of the three University business schools.

Highlights of this year’s event includes keynote speakers John Foraker, president and CEO of Annie’s Homegrown, and Tom McGough, president of consumer foods at ConAgra; panel discussions on topics of food entrepreneurship, private equity and venture capital in the agricultural industry, food insecurity challenges, organic and sustainable alcohol, and the North Carolina pork supply chain.

There are a few major trends at the intersection of food, agriculture, and business, said Lane. “How is technology being used to help growers and the whole value chain? How is the food entrepreneur experience different than other entrepreneurs? Why has there been a rise in private equity and venture capital investing in agriculture?”

Attendees will ask and explore answers to these questions, and more, next week at the event. Early bird registration ends today, and tickets can be purchased online.