Innovations and Retailers Abound at Organic Produce Summit 2018
MONTEREY, CA - My first Organic Produce Summit (OPS) has come to a close, and boy, was it one for the books. With sold-out exhibitor spaces, as well as thriving attendance, the energy and excitement of the third annual event was palpable from the moment I stepped foot in the city of Monterey.
I heard before I made it to the show that the buyer-to-supplier ratio was once one to rival, and I’m happy to confirm that was absolutely the case. With over 1,400 in attendance, including over 250 retailers from nearly 100 different banners and tens of thousands of stores in the U.S. and Canada, OPS is clearly a force to be reckoned with for the $14 billion organic fresh produce industry.
OPS attendees started day one with exclusive retailer and buyer field tours of Ocean Mist Organic, Driscoll’s, Taylor Farms, Braga Fresh Family Farms and Tanimura & Antle facilities and operations. That parlayed into with an opening party at at the newly refurbished Monterey Conference Center, where friends convened and glasses clinked.
The show then continued on Thursday morning with what I thought OPS really excelled at—educational breakout sessions, including ‘The Organic Supply Chain I and II - Opportunities and Challenges’, ‘E-Grocery and the Future of Organic Fresh Produce at Retail’, and ‘Organic Ingredients - Creating New Opportunities in the Produce Department.’ Featuring some of the biggest names and minds on the supply and buy side as panelists and moderators.
Next, kicking off the keynote presentations was Journalist, Author and Discoverer of the Blue Zones, Dan Buettner. He discovered the five places in the world, now dubbed Blue Zones, where people live the longest and healthiest lives. Then, Geoff White, President of OWN Brands, took the stage to share his insights on the growth and development for Albertsons’ O Organics brand.
Following Geoff, Organic Produce Network Founder Tonya Antle moderated an illuminating Retailer Roundtable session with three of the nation’s most progressive retailers in the area of organics—Roger Harkrider of Meijer, Ron McCormick of Walmart, and Randy Riley of Kroger. During the Retailer Roundtable, attendees garnered wisdom from each panelist on how they approaches organic fresh produce and the potential for this growing market segment.
Then, of course, was the show floor; vibrant and bustling with excitement as buyers and suppliers shared innovations, ideas, and good times with one another. Organics were the perfect backdrop.
But, as they say, you don’t have to take my word for it. Here are just a few thoughts about the show that I was able to gather from attendees…
“The OPS show is the perfect opportunity to have discussions with high level produce decision-makers in an informal setting,” shared Kate Reeb, Director of Marketing at Sun Pacific. “The location and venue were both excellent and it was a great mix of retailers from across the country.”
“The Organic Produce Summit just concluded, and after attending this show, it is very clear to me where the growth and energy of this industry is headed! The attendance and energy here was off the chart, and I am walking away from the show ready to make a bigger impact on what we do with our organic program here at Grocery Outlet,” Scot Olson, Vice President of Produce and Floral, told me after the show. “The opening reception was so successful and packed with industry professionals having a great time networking that they finally had to turn off the lights to get us all to leave. The morning educational breakout sessions were well attended and packed with great content that continued into the keynote presentations. The exhibition was alive with vibrant conversation on how we can all continue to grow and develop our organic business in the future. Thank you to the great sponsors for supporting this event and all of the excellent content!”
“The OPS is by far the industries must-attend event! The quality of the buyers present and the level of targeted engagement over the last two days was stellar,” added Mark Munger, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at 4Earth Farms. “There is an unexplainable energy when we all come together and focus on one specific segment of our industry. The organic category continues to drive produce growth and consumer excitement at the retail level and that excitement was evident in all aspects of the OPS event.”
“We had tremendous customer engagement during our sponsored field tours, educational sessions, and the exhibit, Diana McClean, Director of Marketing at Ocean Mist Farms, said. “The new venue was fantastic. Thanks OPS!”
Perhaps who summed it best, though, was Monina Knox, Produce Sourcing Specialist for Sobeys, who said, “Another great show and another great year.”
Congratulations to the team behind OPS for yet another winning event and to both attendees and exhibitors for continuing to raise the bar on organic fresh produce! Hope to see your faces back there in 2019.