President & CEO
Lou Cooperhouse is recognized as a leading global authority in food business innovation and technology commercialization, with extensive leadership experiences throughout his 35-year career in the food industry. He is a results-driven professional, and has led cross-functional teams in a wide array of industry settings that include: multinational corporations, foodservice and retail operations, new business startups, mid-sized and family-run companies, university entrepreneurship and innovation centers, and industry trade associations. With his deep and diverse understanding of the food industry, Lou has spoken at hundreds of conferences throughout his career, specializing in food trends, disruptive technologies, and global best practices in business innovation and incubation.
Most recently, Lou served as CEO of Food Spectrum, LLC, where he provided a broad array of strategic consulting and business management expertise to the food industry. Areas of specialization and focus included: corporate development and strategic planning; organizational leadership and team building; merger and acquisition assessment; corporate partnering and sales development; new product ideation, innovation and incubation; product and process development; technology assessment and commercialization; quality assurance and food safety systems; plant and process design and engineering; and operational performance and metrics.
Lou also served as a founder and the Executive Director of the Rutgers University Food Innovation Center (FIC), and led this program for approximately 15 years. Lou created a new global model for food industry economic development, business attraction and retention, and industry cluster creation. The Rutgers FIC subsequently became internationally recognized for its economic development impacts, and recognized as the “Business Incubator of the Year” by the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA), and as a nationwide model and an “Agricultural Innovation Center Demonstration Program” by the USDA. In this role, Lou also testified at the US Congress on best practices in business incubation and industry cluster formation, and also served as President of the New Jersey Business Incubation Network; Executive Director and President of the New Jersey Food Processors Association; and on the Board of Directors of the International Business Innovation Association. Earlier in his career, he also served on the Board and a member of the Executive Committee of the Refrigerated Foods Association; on the board of the United Fresh Produce Association; on the Board of Managers of the NJ Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers University; and on the Editorial Advisory Board of Produce Processing Magazine.
Previously, Lou served as President & COO of F&S Produce, a leading regional supplier of fresh-cut produce and value-added refrigerated foods, providing leadership to over 500 employees, located at two facilities with over 125,000 sf operations. Prior to this, he served as Co-Founder, President and CEO of MenuDirect Corporation, a unique health, wellness, and nutrition company, which provided meal solutions for individuals with celiac disease, diabetes, PKU and dysphagia. Earlier in his career, Lou held positions of increasing responsibility at Campbell’s Soup, ConAgra, Nestlé-funded Culinary Brands, Idle Wild Farms, and Grand Union Supermarkets in areas of business development, product development, quality assurance, and operations.
Lou has personally been responsible for leading corporate pioneering efforts that resulted in the commerciaization of numerous new food technologies in the US marketplace, that include sous vide, high pressure processing, and modified atmosphere packaging. He also led a team of food scientists and chefs that developed the first comprehensive line of gluten-free products worldwide, completed in the late 1990’s, as well as other product lines focused on disease management. Lou has also authored numerous articles in food industry trade magazines, as well as the first syndicated research study on “home meal replacement” and the emerging category of “Retail Prepared Refrigerated Foods – The Market and Technologies” that was published in 2002.
In addition, Lou has considerable expertise in food safety and quality assurance systems, and has provide leadership at numerous FDA and USDA-inspected operations throughout his career, and has conducted third-party audits of dozens of food companies throughout the nation. He is Certified in Preventive Controls for Human Food (issued by the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance in 2016), is a Certified Trainer in HACCP (issued by the International HACCP Alliance in 2013) and is also Certified as a ServSafe Food Protection Manager (issued by the American National Standards Institute in 2013).
Lou received a MS in Food Science and BS in Microbiology, both from Rutgers University, and has served as an Adjunct Professor at the Rutgers Business School.