Inside the 2018 Organic Grower Summit
- by Kayla Webb
MONTEREY, CA - Organics is one of the fastest growing industries out there—weighing in as one of the few that has doubled in size and one that still shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. With so much to celebrate and even still to learn when it comes to organics, this year’s second annual Organic Grower Summit was another impressive feat of networking and education opportunities galore. And with another year down, OGS proved once more that, even in its produce show infancy, it it is a key venue for building organic businesses. Whether you were able to make the trek to Monterey, California, or unfortunately missed out on all the fun, here are few highlights from the 2018 Organic Grower Summit.
“The OPN continues to demonstrate their leadership in the organic trade by creating a setting where organic farmers and suppliers have the opportunity to connect directly with Costco, one of the premier retailers in North America. In addition to being exposed to cutting edge technology from the allied service providers,” Oppy’s Organic and Food Service Categories Manager Chris Ford said on the show floor.
This year, there were plenty of educational sessions to choose from, including a data-forward session showcasing just how much organics has increased in recent years, moderated by AndNowUKnow’s own Robert Lambert. Other sessions took a closer look at growing sectors within the organic industry, sparking important conversations amongst growers, buyers, and shippers about the possibilities organics offers in a wide range of food sectors.
“There is no better place to be if you want to understand the heartbeat of where the organic produce industry currently is and where it is heading in the future,” said Homegrown Organics’ Chief Executive Officer Scott Mabs. “OGS has done a great job of bringing together the organic grower community to discuss the challenges and opportunities that face us today.”
The event also highlighted keynote speakers like Once Upon A Farm’s Co-Founder and CEO John Foraker, who examined the infiltration of organics in the center of the store. Foraker even predicted that while organics account for five percent of food now, this number could be as high as 20 percent in his lifetime, further encouraging those in the organics industry to continue to seek innovative solutions to consumer demands.
“The Organic Grower Summit is beneficial for growers of all sizes and experience. From the smallest to the largest—from those who’ve been at it for 30 years to those just starting out—the show provided value to all who attended,” said Jeff Huckaby, President of Grimmway Farms.
And, of course, the second annual OGS featured a cutting-edge show floor that curated collaboration, partnerships, and conversation between all aspects of the organic industry, providing crucial spaces for produce industry coverers like myself to simply witness and learn from those pushing organics to new heights.
Last but not least, Thaddeus Barsotti, Chief Farmer and Co-CEO of Farm Fresh To You, was awarded this year’s Grower of the Year Award! And because OGS is ripe with learning opportunities and insider wisdom, Barsotti shared his own advice with those in attendance, stating: ”Farming is not easy, you can’t just grow seeds in the dirt—wish it was that easy but it’s not. So [my] mom was always good about telling the story to customers and making sure that her kids understood we have to make sure our customers are getting what they want. More and more in this industry, we need to focus on the customer being the person that is actually consuming the product, figuring out how to make sure they know what is going on. And that we’re able to help our middle men take care of that.”
Thank you, Organic Grower Summit 2018, for an organic opportunity of a lifetime, and here’s to seeing more of our favorite organic faces at next year’s show!