Back to all Mentors

Phil Kafarakis

President & CEO at IFMA

Chicago, Illinois, United States


Follow Phil Kafarakis on LinkedIn

Phil Kafarakis is the former leader of the Specialty Food Association (SFA), a non-profit trade association representing more than 3,800 food artisans, importers, buyers, distributors, and other entrepreneurs spearheading innovation in the food industry. The SFA, established in 1952, produces the Winter and Summer Fancy Food Shows, the sofi™ Awards honoring excellence in specialty foods, and the award-winning Specialty Food Magazine. Their research is published in an annual State of the Specialty Food Industry Report. Kafarakis is a leading advocate and spokesman for the $140 billion U.S. specialty food industry, one of the fastest growing food segments in the world. He is a nationally recognized industry insider and is often quoted by media sources. His editorials have appeared in Progressive Grocer, FoodDive, Ivey Business Journal, and SmartBrief, among others. Kafarakis is also a frequent speaker at events on topics like the future of the U.S. food market, disruptive innovation, and effective entrepreneurship. 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 restaurant industry. Under Kafarakis’ leadership, the NRA built an Insurance Exchange to assist members with ACA legislation, acquired National Registry of Food Safety Professionals, and enhanced the NRA Show through creating the Signature Leadership Keynote and Incubator Alley. With more than 35 years of C-Suite leadership experience in the global food and beverage industry, Kafarakis has also led businesses at McCormick & Co., where he created McCormick for Chefs; Cargill, where he was instrumental in developing Brand Management Solutions, LLC; Jones Dairy Farm; and Kraft. He is a current member of the ASAE’s Key Industry Association Committee and has served on the board of Meals on Wheels.

Functional Expertise


Marketing & Sales