Phil Kafarakis

Former President Specialty Food Association & Global Food Industry Senior Advisor.

Phil Kafarakis is a global food industry executive and angel investor with nearly 40-years of leadership experience in forprofit and non-profit organizations within the industry. Currently operating at the crossroads of global food innovation, regulatory food affairs, and disruptive business transformation, Phil serves as an advisor to Boards, Chief Executives and Governments.

Given his credible, industry insider status, Mr. Kafarakis is an established media source for food industry trade and business press like the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, the Financial Times, CNBC, and Yahoo Finance. Beyond being a current contributor to Forbes, his editorials and perspective have appeared in Progressive Grocer, Grocery Business, FoodDive, The Hill, Food Engineering, Ivey Business Journal, SmartBrief, and Food Quality & Safety magazine. Phil is a very sought after speaker, moderator and facilitator at global events.

Most recently, Phil served as president of the Specialty Food Association (SFA), a non-profit trade organization that produces the world-renowned Fancy Food Shows, the sofi™ Awards honoring excellence in specialty food innovation and represents more than 4,200 small and emerging food entrepreneurs in the U.S. and abroad. In that role, he was a leading advocate and spokesman for the $160 Billion U.S. specialty food segment.

Mr. Kafarakis is credited for modernizing the SFA, developing and activating some of the most aggressive, far-reaching business structure and member engagement changes in the SFA’s 68-year history. The transformation included a comprehensive brand relaunch, best-in-class governance changes, a diversity, equity and inclusion platform to accommodate a more youthful membership base and a membership service center. Expanding the global education mission of the SFA, Phil established global partnerships with peer group entities like, Comexposium’s SIAL, Cibus, TuttoFoods, Enterprise Greece, Italian Trade Commission and Seeds & Chips Milan. By increasing awareness of the work of the association, the SFA transformed from a trade show provider to being recognized as a full-service membership trade organization.

Prior to his appointment as SFA President, Kafarakis served as the Chief Innovation & Member Advancement Officer at the National Restaurant Association (NRA), the leading business association for the $900 Billion restaurant industry. Under Kafarakis’ leadership, the NRA expanded member products and programs by building an Insurance Exchange to assist members with ACA legislation, acquiring National Registry of Food Safety Professionals to extend the ServSafe® program, enhancing the NRA Show by creating the Signature Leadership Keynote and Incubator Alley, as well as creating the annual NRA Restaurant Innovation Summit.

For more than half his career, Phil successfully led and managed food businesses at McCormick & Co., where he created McCormick for Chefs and worked on custom flavor solutions for the world’s largest quick-service restaurant chains; Cargill, where he was instrumental in developing Brand Management Solutions, LLC which continues to provide proprietary products to the largest grocery chains in America; Jones Dairy Farm; and Kraft. He served on the Board of Meals on Wheels as well as several food industry associations.

Mr. Kafarakis was born in Athens, Greece and immigrated to the U.S. with his family as a child. He holds an International Executive MBA from the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University and a BSBA from Northern Arizona University. He is an Archon of the Order of St. Andrew, serving the Ecumenical
Patriarch of Constantinople of the Eastern Orthodox Church and is very active in his faith. Phil lives in New York City with his wife, Kathy. They have four adult children.