James Gratzek begins his new role as director of the UGA Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center on July 1

Food technology entrepreneur James Gratzek will serve as the next director of the Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center (FoodPIC) on the University of Georgia Griffin campus, according to the Department of Food Science and Technology at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES). Gratzek will begin his new role July 1.

Gratzek comes to FoodPIC from Food Physics USA, a food technology start-up focused on sales and applications for pulsed electric field technology — a way to preserve food using short pulses of electricity — where he served as technical and business development director.

Gratzek also founded Gratzek Food Technology, a Minneapolis-based food technology consulting company.

According to Manpreet Singh, food science and technology department head, Gratzek has been a leader in the food industry for more than 25 years. During his career, Gratzek has served as director of aseptic technology (a food processing technique) and project applications with TetraPak; director of innovation, technology and quality with General Mills; and senior vice president for research, quality and innovation with Sunopta Inc.

“During his career, Dr. Gratzek has led many teams in the food industry and has a vast experience and success in product development, process development and food safety,” Singh said. “Throughout his career, he has had increasing responsibilities, developed a holistic understanding of food business and learned important methodologies to create and launch successful and sustainable food products. Dr. James Gratzek is recognized as a leader in the food industry and I look forward to his leadership and vision for the FoodPIC.”

Taking food products from concept to launch

FoodPIC was initiated by Department of Food Science and Technology faculty and is internationally recognized for its development of innovative food products and discovery, and for the implementation of cutting-edge science and technology.

The center has a fully established international network of contacts and databases with which it serves new and established food companies.

These strategic alliances with external marketing, technology and engineering groups help food companies take new products from conception through consumer research, formulation, prototyping, shelf-life analysis and market launch. The center is guided by reliable consumer preference analysis and driven by client food company profit goals.

FoodPIC is located at UGA-Griffin, approximately 30 miles south of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, convenient to companies from all over. The center and the food science and technology department provide unique facilities enabling dozens of researchers to carry out studies that affect food systems worldwide.

I am excited to join FoodPic. This is a fantastic facility, with an important mission and wonderful staff,” Gratzek said. “Georgia is an emerging food and agricultural powerhouse, and developing products and technology that add value to Southeastern crops will be a focus of the center. Our work will extend the strategic focus area of integrated precision agriculture at CAES.”

Gratzek is relocating to UGA Griffin for the position, but he’s no stranger to CAES. He received his doctoral degree in food science from CAES in 1994.

“Returning to Georgia after spending nearly three decades out of state is our next adventure, he said. “I look forward to utilizing my industrial experience combined with the awesome capabilities of UGA to assist Georgia’s food and ag sector to become more profitable and ultimately better positioned for our bright future.”

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