Last week in Monterey, CA, the very first Organic Produce Summit was held, and given the importance of produce within the organic industry, it was no surprise that this event was so successful and so well-received.
At the larger trade shows that I go to – Natural Products Expo West, Natural Products Expo East and Fancy Food Show – there is little to no presence of organic fruit and vegetable vendors. So, to have a dedicated event for organic produce makes a tremendous amount of sense.
And maybe that explained why the Organic Produce Summit was sold out, and featured 600 attendees and 70 trade show booths.
One aspect of the show that I particularly appreciated was that there were breakout sessions and keynote speakers in the morning, and the trade show floor opened in the afternoon. This allowed me to attend both.
With most trade shows, the educational sessions take place while the trade show floor is open, and I end up missing many of them because there are so many booths that I need to visit.
Laura Batcha, Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association, shared some fascinating and impressive data at the Organic Produce Summit. Highlights included:
- Fresh organic produce sales in the U.S. reached $13 billion in 2015. The entire U.S. organic food sector for last year was $39.7 billion .
- Almost 13% of all the produce sold in the United States now is organic.
- Sales of organic bananas increased 33% from a year ago.
- Organic salad greens and organic baby carrots each grew their market share by 11% from a year ago.
- Organic Pink Lady Apples experienced staggering growth, up 96% from a year ago.
- Sales of organic blackberries grew 61% from a year ago.
After the breakout sessions and keynote speakers, the trade show floor opened to attendees and here were some interesting things that I found.
I LOVE POMEGRANATES – HPP JUICE
This was the very first time that I had come across organic, cold-pressed, HPP pomegranate juice, thanks to I Love Pomegranates. And I literally couldn’t stop drinking this juice. It was that good.
The company is looking to private label this juice, so it may be a little difficult to find for a little while.
ORGANIC GIRL SALADS
Organic Girl unveiled its triple-washed Pepper Greens (baby mustard greens, arugula, spinach & other tender greens) and Sweet Pea (tender baby greens blended with sweet pea shoots) salads. Fantastic combinations.
How often do you eat the green leaves from broccoli? If you’re like me, not nearly enough.
Foxy Organic sells BroccoLeaf, which I am told, is excellent for juicing and is packed with nutrition, including Vitamins K, C, and A.
GOURMET GARDEN LIGHTLY DRIED HERBS
While many of you may be saying, “I would rather buy my herbs fresh instead of from a container”, please understand what is going on here and think about all of the times that your herbs wilted after a few days.
Gourmet Garden lightly dries its organic herbs and harvests them when their essential oils are at their peak. Once opened, the container lasts 4 weeks! Very compelling, especially since food waste is such an issue these days.
READY PAC ORGANIC CHOPPED SALAD KITS
Have you ever gone to the market and said “I very much want a salad but don’t feel like washing or chopping the greens. And I don’t want to buy a bottle of salad dressing either.”
If so, you’re not alone and that is why Ready Pac came out with these four different organic chopped salad kits with a packet of dressing included in the bag. This is particularly a great option for when you’re traveling.
A few months ago, I wrote about Juicero, the most innovative and disruptive juicing technology the industry has seen in decades. At the show, I was able to try its juices again, and they were spectacular.
Right now, Juicero is only available in California but it is expected to be available in the New York area later this year. I can’t wait!
In summary, the organic produce sector is experiencing record-breaking growth for one simple reason – people are becoming increasingly concerned about what they put in their bodies. As a result, the demand for fresh, organic, non-GMO fruits and vegetables is stronger than ever and shows absolutely no sign of slowing down.
Hopefully, there will come a time when our government recognizes this and truly gets behind the organic produce sector instead of supporting our country’s junk food habit.
I very much look forward to next year’s show, where I’ve been told that farm visits will also be on the agenda, and if you’re thinking about attending, I strongly suggest it.
The Organic Produce Summit is both important and necessary, as this food category is so vital to the health of our country.
If you’d like to see my “live” Periscope from the Summit, click HERE and also make sure to download the Periscope app and follow: livingmaxwell