October 29/Omaha, NE/Prepared FoodsMagazine -- ConAgra Mills today announced that Virgil Smail will join the company as senior director of Research, Quality & Innovation.

Smail has a distinguished career in the grain production, grain marketing, and baking industries. He will utilize his more than 25 years of expertise to partner with ConAgra Mills customers on product development support, from ideation and scale-up through consumer validation, product launch and beyond.

"Smail is well known in the milling industry, and we think he will be a strong force in driving ingredient innovation, particularly around health and wellness," says Jim Carlin, vice president of Research, Quality & Innovation, ConAgra Foods. "By helping our customers leverage our product development resources, ConAgra Mills can help its customers innovate and grow their businesses."

Smail joins ConAgra Mills from Lallemand Inc., where he was senior vice president of the start-up Nutritional Food Ingredient division. Prior to Lallemand, he headed the department of Grain Science and Industry at Kansas State University. In addition, Smail previously served as president and CEO of the American Institute of Baking, where he significantly expanded its programs and helped build the largest food safety inspection program in the world.

During his distinguished career, Smail has also served as: director, USDA/ARS, U.S. Grain Marketing Research Laboratory; executive director/CEO, Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI); vice president, Corporate Development, Biotechnica Agriculture Inc.; and director/CEO, National Association of Wheat Growers Foundation.

He holds a bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry from Earlham College, a master of science degree in agronomy and statistics from Montana State University, and a Ph.D. in crop breeding and plant pathology, also from Montana State University.

From the November 5, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash