Inside Organic Produce Summit 2017
- by Jordan Okumura
MONTEREY, CA - As they say, it’s a wrap! Hitting it out of the park again this year, the Organic Produce Summit (OPS) wowed attendees with sold-out exhibitor spaces, as well as attendance. The energy and excitement of the second annual event brought together industry leaders from across fresh produce for an intimate, two-day gathering of top supply-side and retail companies.
The buyer-to-supplier ratio was once again one to rival, and when I say that the show has created a popular following, I mean it–next year’s show already has 40 companies on its waitlist that were not able to get in for 2017's extravaganza. More than 115 different companies converged in the exhibitor spaces, sharing their organic offerings with over 900 attendees, over 200 retailers, representing 70 different buying organizations in attendance which, in turn, represent over 60,000 stores throughout North America and overseas. This year, the show also welcomed the foodservice sector, the e-commerce category, and the organic ingredient sector.
“The partnerships we create and enrich during this show are invaluable. We are always looking to rise above the challenges of the industry and impact the diverse ways in which produce can be cultivated, grown, and shared with consumers. The Organic Produce Summit was a great show and we will definitely be back again next year. 4Earth Farms is proud to be participants of this key industry event. See you all next year,” David Lake, Owner and Founder of 4Earth Farms, shared.
Kicking off Wednesday with an opening party at the Hyatt Regency Monterey, the trade show had glasses clinking and conversations bubbling with hot topics. The show then continued on Thursday morning with exciting educational breakout sessions including 'Excellence in Organic Produce Merchandising', 'Deep Dive: A look at Trends in Organics', and the heated 'Bioponics: Organic or Not?' Session.
Four segments then took to the stage late morning, for the day’s keynote addresses with Ashley Koff, RD, leading the charge, sharing her insights on bringing consumers what they want and need in terms of organics. This was followed by a retailers’ roundtable discussing opportunities and challenges in selling organics to consumers, featuring guest speakers Dave Corsi of Wegmans, Heather Shavey of Costco, and Chad Miller of Sprouts. Next up were the founders of the Organic Coup, America’s first USDA Certified Organic fast food chain, who shared their journey from Costco to their newest venture to address organic demand. The keynote addresses wrapped up with David McInerney, Co-Founder of FreshDirect, sharing his views and opinions on how the organic market and organic conceptualization creates both benefits and challenges.
As for those celebrated at the Summit, a committee selected Back to The Roots® as the winner of the Organic Innovations showcase with it's line of indoor gardening kits. The company shared that it was so thrilled to win, and will also secure them a free booth at next year's show.
But that is enough from me, here are some thoughts from a few of the industry’s most sought after voices...
“This year’s record attendance truly sends a clear message to all of us, and the entire fresh produce industry, that our $14 billion category means good business,” Tonya Antle, Co-Founder of the Organic Produce Network shared with the OPS crowd. “Consumers today are continuing their search for healthier options and new approaches to their diets. Organic produce continues to be that lead key category in helping solve these consumers' desires and purchasing the products of many of the leading brands that are represented today.”
“It was fantastic to be back exhibiting for our second year at the Organic Produce Summit,” Kori Tuggle, Vice President of Marketing, Church Brothers Farms, told me. “It’s been a great success for us in terms of who is here from the retail-side and we are happy to see the success of the show and the OPN team who has help rally the industry around this cause.”
"It was great to see the industry come together at such a unique event. And what a wonderful opportunity to see our customers," said Alisa Teglia, Director of Marketing & Brand Strategy, Braga Fresh.
“This is an incredible second year for the Organic Produce Summit,” said Ocean Mist’s Director of Marketing, Diana McClean. “The caliber of retailers that we have been able to meet with is off the charts. This is a concentrated, quality group of the best of the industry. The sessions were extremely provocative and insightful which is something we really want in our industry because it is new and it is different. I am incredibly pleased that somebody, Matt Seeley, thought this was a need that had to be filled, and that he filled it in this way.”
Congratulations to the team behind OPS for another successful event and to the attendees and exhibitors for raising the bar on organic produce! See you all next year!