Tonya Antle of Tanimura & Antle Talks Organic Produce Summit and Growing Organic Demand
MONTEREY, CA - With a sold out exhibitor and attendee list, as well as a confirmed 60 different buying organizations attending and totaling over 40,000 stores across the U.S. and Canada, the inaugural Organic Produce Summit (OPS) is promising to be a must-attend event. This summit will showcase the growing $13 billion organic fresh produce marketplace with a series of educational sessions, and featured speakers, including Principal of Tanimura & Antle and Master of Ceremonies for the OPS, Tonya Antle.
As July 13th and 14th quickly approach for the Monterey, California, event, Tonya took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to speak with me about the importance of a trade show like this, and why organic produce demand is evolving at such a rapid pace.
“Monterey is the perfect location for this inaugural show. California is the dominate state in the country for fresh organic production and Monterey County leads in organic vegetable and berry production,” Tonya tells me, adding that the region is also in its prime season along the coast, so it is most appropriate to have the show in its current locale. “It's also a tremendous opportunity for so many facets of the organic produce industry to gather, network and exchange ideas and focus in on this ever-growing category. Organic produce is in the cat bird seat and this show is the hottest place to be...evident by its busting-at-the-seams sold out status!”
When I ask Tonya what is driving this rapid growth in consumer demand for organic produce, she tells me that it is “fresh” which is the driving factor in the demand for organic. Consumers are shopping for perishables in the perimeter of the store first and foremost. The numbers tell the story.
“The food industry shows a total growth rate at 2.6 percent. Embedded in that rate is all organic food sales at a growth rate of 10.6 percent of which organic produce makes up 36 percent of this segment and accounts for 14.4 billion dollars in sales,” Tonya says. “It remains the key gateway category for consumers. This relates back to the total fresh category and the direct link between consumers embracing healthier lifestyles and food choices.”
With the growing popularity in organics, Tonya talks to me about the possibilities within the segment, and how she has seen the sector change over the years. She smiles to begin, and tells me that this is a coming of age story.
“As you know, I have been a member of this segment of the industry since the early 80s when we were considered a counter culture revolution,” she says, remarking that at that time their buyers were strictly Mom and Pop natural health food stores, natural foods wholesalers and organic buying coops. “Now, the tent has grown to include every segment of the food supply chain. The possibilities went from a dream to make organic food available and affordable to as many people as possible, to a global reality. And the future remains bright for the organic produce segment."
As the Master of Ceremonies for the OPS, Tonya hopes to spark dynamic conversations that will allow attendees to learn and gain valuable insights from a new class of organic industry leaders and innovators. Then this dialogue will continue onto the trade floor as the group brings buyers and sellers together to share and experience the latest organic industry trends and products first hand.
Along with the incredible insights that Tonya brings, and will bring, to the summit, event speakers also include the likes of Juicero CEO and Founder, Doug Evans; Laura Batcha, President of the Organic Trade Association; Chad Hagen, Vice President of Consumer Products, SunOpta; Mark Bittman,noted author and former New York Times columnist.
A series of educational sessions hosted by the Organic Trade Association will cover a wide range of issues and opportunities for the organic produce industry. Among the topics covered are organic merchandising, the growth of international supply channels, future trends in the organic industry, and a look at the growing direct to consumer e-grocery business.
The Organic Produce Summit is co-sponsored by Taylor Farms and Braga Fresh, and includes other major sponsors such as Tomorrow’s Organics, VBZ & Sons, Homegrown Organic Farms, Earthbound Farms, and Driscolls. Due to the response to this year’s event, the 2017 Organic Produce Summit will again be held in July in Monterey, CA. Information about next year’s event will be made available later this month.
The Organic Produce Summit is just days away, and with the incredible show lineup and ideal destination, I am sure that the inaugural event will not disappoint.