Brenda Knapp-Polzin, CFS


Brenda Knapp-Polzin recently retired from Cargill, Inc. (17-year tenure), where she had research and development leadership roles within the Protein and Food Ingredients Platforms. Prior to Cargill, she had leadership and technology roles in General Mills and Pillsbury (13-year tenure).  As an R&D leader and director, she is skilled at team and individual development and leading as a business team member to move a product from concept to commercialization. She has been successful in leveraging a broad experience base and creative technology transfer to the science of product development, packaging, and operational executions. She is adept at formulating products based on consumer needs states and category trends. 

She has been responsible for the successful launches of numerous branded products including Progresso ®, Old El Paso ®, Pillsbury ®, B&M Baked Bean ®, and Underwood Meat Spreads ®, and has been nominated for a variety of industry and IFT achievement awards including the Minnesota Section Chair’s Award. Brenda has received a US patent. Brenda has two sons, three daughters, and four grandchildren, and lives in Minneapolis, Minn. Her husband, David Polzin, is professor emeritus of Veterinary Internal Medicine at the University of Minnesota. She loves theater and the arts, travel, exploration of culture, cuisine and wine, and is the proud “mom” of standard poodles.   

IFT Highlights

Brenda has been an IFT member since 1988 and is a Certified Food Scientist.  She has served in numerous IFT volunteer and leadership roles at the section level (Minnesota and Great Plains Subsection), including Chair, Membership Secretary, Long Range Planning, and Section Representative.  At the national level, she has had leadership roles including IFT Board of Directors, Feeding Tomorrow Trustee and Chair, and Chair and Member of International Certified Food Scientist Commission. She has participated in a variety of award juries including the Graduate Scholarship-General Mills, Babcock-Hart Award, and Sensory & Consumer Sciences.  


BS in Education – Family and Consumer Sciences from University of Nebraska-Lincoln 

MS in Food Science and Technology from University of Nebraska-Lincoln