In anticipation of his panel on brand licensing at Natural Products Expo West, Stu Seltzer, president, The Seltzer Licensing Group, outlines what’s trending in the food and beverage industry and how his session will help food and beverage executives and licensing executives alike.

McKenna Morgan, Content Editor

March 5, 2024

6 Min Read
Stu Seltzer, The Seltzer Licensing Group
Stu Seltzer The Seltzer Licensing Group

Attendees of Natural Products Expo West can learn about brand licensing and hear directly from experts at Paramount, Newman’s Own and Unilever on how they utilize a licensing strategy to grow their sales and add credibility to their products. 

Panelists for the session include Fabiana Gil, executive vice president, licensing and business development, Newman’s Own; Priya Mukhedkar, senior vice president, consumer products, global toys and consumable, fast-moving consumer goods, global quick-service restaurants, Paramount and Lisa Vortsman, chief marketing and innovation officer, ice cream, North America, Unilever. Stu Seltzer, a professor with 20 years of experience teaching students about intellectual property at NYU, will lead the panel. 

License Global chatted with Seltzer ahead of his panel about what attendees will get out of the session, scheduled in Platinum Ballroom 5 at the Marriott for Wednesday, March 13 at 9 a.m.  

License Global: For those in the food and beverage industry unfamiliar with you and your work, what would you want them to know about you? 
Seltzer: Seltzer Licensing Group is a brand licensing agency in its 25th year of business. We work with some of the biggest food companies in the industry and many exhibitors at Natural Products West, including Campbell’s Soup and Unilever. In the past, we’ve worked with Chef Boyardee, with Sunny D and many others. Food, ever since the start of our agency, has been at least half of our business. That’s always been a focus for us and we’re always attending food shows. In the industry we are considered an expert in the food licensing space.  

Personally, I am a professor at NYU, teaching a class on brand licensing for undergrads for the past 20 years. We cover fashion, sports, entertainment, corporate and of course food licensing, and it’s become a required class for certain majors such as sports marketing or sports management. This past fall, I taught an MBA class at Lehigh University on brand licensing. I love teaching and I’m looking forward to this panel. 

Tell me about your upcoming panel. What can people expect? 
It’s going to start with a 15-minute overview of some of the basics of licensing and a few case studies, but then we’re going to bring a panel of experts up.  

This includes Lisa Vortsman, chief marketing and innovation officer, ice cream, North America, Unilever. Unilever includes Breyers, Good Humor, Popsicle, Klondike, Talenti, Magnum and more. They are the number one ice cream company in the world. She will be there discussing some of their biggest deals in licensing. They currently license Hershey, Mars, Snickers, Reese’s, Disney’s “Frozen,” “Star Wars,” “Minions,” Mrs. Fields, “SpongeBob” and a lot of others she’ll be able to touch on. On the flipside, they’ve also licensed out their brands to energy drinks, sneakers, chocolates and more. She’ll be able to talk about licensing in and out. 

Next, we have Priya Mukhedkar, senior vice president, consumer products, overseeing several categories  - global toys, CPG, seasonal and global quick-service restaurants for Paramount’s many franchises like “SpongeBob,” “PAW Patrol”, “Yellowstone”, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and many more. We’ve gotten to know her through the many deals we’ve done with her, including with Popsicle. Previously, she was with Lucasfilm, doing a lot of licensing work for Disney for seven years. Before that, she was at General Mills. She’s been at Paramount for five years now, and she’s got a wealth of knowledge in the food and character licensing business.  

The third panelist is Fabiana Gil, executive vice president, licensing and business development, Newman’s Own. Newman’s Own is another big brand in licensing. They’re doing salad dressings, lemonade, pasta sauce, cookies, pizza, all licensed. Fabiana Gil knows licensing really well and was at Disney for 18 years. She was the one who we did many deals with over the years for Disney “Frozen” and other Disney-branded properties. She’s been working in food, health and beauty and licensing for 25 years, has worked globally, and she’s a great addition to the panel. 

I think this will be a great seminar for anybody who’s thinking of trying to license a brand, but also to learn how they can boost their sales using licensing as the business model. That is the key thing that they are going to walk away with. They’re going to learn about the risks, they are going to learn about the rewards and they are going to learn from the experts and see how the deals are done. We’ll also open up the floor to audience questions, so they can get directly involved and see how these things would pertain to them directly, but I’ve got a list of interesting, probing questions for the panelists as well. The show itself doesn’t start until 10 a.m. and this panel is at 9 a.m., so it’s a great way to start the morning before getting on the show floor.  

Why is it important that the food and beverage industry learn about the licensed consumer product business and how does it benefit them? 
Licensing in the food and beverage industry has been growing. It touches almost every product category now. It’s important for people in this space to know what’s going on and to see what their competitors are doing, understanding all of the options out there. They of course have the option to license, but another question that comes up a lot is that a lot of companies choose not to license. That’s a decision that might also have some risks, because if their competitors went out and got a Star Wars license, stealing their market share. It’s important to know what’s going on in the marketplace and how this plays out. The licensing business has been growing and the food business has been growing over the past couple of decades now. This panel is a great learning experience, and in one hour, they will come away learning a lot. 

What trends in the food and beverage industry are important for the licensed consumer product industry to know? 
Licensing is growing in the food space. The people in the licensing industry, specifically licensors, should be at this show. The brands are growing, they’re looking for differentiation, looking for brands, and it’s amazing to see all of the licensed products at the show. There is a lot of action going on, and if you’re a licensor looking to sell your brand to new prospective licensees, this is a show to attend.  

It's clear that food and beverage professionals and licensing executives should attend this seminar at Natural Products Expo West, but is there anyone else attending the show who should attend this panel? 

We’ve gotten a lot of venture capitalists, finance people and lawyers attending the shows in the past, looking to buy brands. Their goal is to buy the company and supercharge the growth of the company, and a typical private equity company will resell it in about five years. What I’m here to share is that licensing can provide that growth, and a lot of these finance people have seen that. We’ve seen it; they’ll buy a company, they’ll license a lot of popular brands to it, which will provide that supercharged growth that these private equity companies are looking for. This seminar may be interesting to people in the finance world as well.  

Natural Products Expo West will be held March 12-15 in Anaheim, Calif. Once registered, attendees can look forward to Seltzer’s panel scheduled in Platinum Ballroom 5 at the Marriott for Wednesday, March 13 at 9 a.m. 

About the Author(s)

McKenna Morgan

Content Editor, License Global

McKenna Morgan is Content Editor for License Global. Based in the Santa Monica office, McKenna specializes in coverage involving non-profits, beauty and cosmetics, health and wellness, new and social media and entertainment licensing.

When McKenna isn’t covering the latest licensing news, she spends her time attending live music shows and finding her next travel destination.

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