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Organic Produce Summit takes place in California, Amid Record-Breaking Growth for the Sector

Organic Produce Summit takes place in California, Amid Record-Breaking Growth for the Sector

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 […]

Organic Produce Summit


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.



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 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.



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.



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!


(Doug Evans, founder of Juicero, gave a phenomenal keynote address at the Organic Produce Summit.)

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 

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  • john roulac says:

    Note that web sales etc don’t get listed for organic sales.

  • Barbara Sanders says:

    Big Ag already has its eyes on Organics because of its exponential growth and potential profits, and they are already infiltrating our regulatory agencies and attempting to water down organic standards. Don’t let them!!

  • Ged Buffee says:

    Max in past years I brought the preposterousness of the Organic Trade Association’s 2012 Organic Industry Survey of 200 companies conducted by a Nutrition Business Journal (a magazine) and it claims retail sales at $35.1 billion equating to 4% market share of total US food sales for organics.

    I noted the following in regard to the previous statistics in various communications (including to Laura Batcha directly):

    More comprehensive, reliable and professionally collected aggregated 2012 data from the Nielsen, SPINSscan Natural Proprietary (point-of-sale in-store sales data) collection backed by SPINSscan Consumer (capturing in-home scanned data for food purchases in 100,000 US households) records total retail sales for ALL NATURAL products (including organic) to be $41,6 billion and for only certified products (equates to organic but could include for example Fairtrade) to be $16.3 billion. Nielsen/SPINS doesn’t record fresh and OTA claim organic fresh is at $11,6 billion – means that for OTA with total organic sales being at $35.1 billion then packaged ambient organic is around $23,5 billion.

    Nielsen/SPINS packaged ambient at $16.3 billion vs. OTA packaged ambient organic is around $23,5 billion. Just a $7,2 billion discrepancy but who’s counting?

    Also the US Fresh Market (USDA) has retail sales of $79 billion – meaning with OTA’s fresh sales recorded at $15,6 billion then according to OTA organic fresh has a 20% share of the US Fresh Market. This is really a stretch…

    OTA also calculates its 4% share for organic on the OTA’s view that there’s a US $760-billion food industry

    In the US, the retail grocery store and supermarket industry, with 40,245 stores, totaled about $650.1 billion in revenues during 2013, according to U.S. Department of the Census figures. However, food products and beverages in the US are sold at a wide variety of stores other than supermarkets: at 57,387 non-traditional food-sellers such as wholesale clubs with their sales estimated at $435.0 billion as well as $175.9 billion in revenues at 155,513 convenience stores. (Plunkett Research)

    A more accurate US food market then is more like $1,25 trillion meaning OTA’s estimate of for organics’ sales at $35.1 billion re-calibrates down from 4% to a 2,5% share of US food market. Just around a +50% over estimate by OTA but who’s counting?

    Finally with all this reported OTA growth where is the organic produce and food coming from ?

    There are now 914.5 million acres of farmland across the United States, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) Organic Production Survey (NASS 2010) reports only 4.1 million acres for organic farming equating to 0,45% share of total US agriculture. If under half-of-one-percent of US farmers are organic they must be outstandingly productive to supply 4% of the US food market (OTA’s estimate) or 20% of the US Fresh Market (OTA’s estimate).

    Regrettably organic statistics are being widely manipulated and misrepresented by organic industry leadership. This spawns a cycle of distrust with the sector’s misreporting open to being misconstrued, misinterpreted and adjudged misleading at best and mendacious at worst. Regrettably this all takes organics into “Trust but Verify” territory


    Bottomline here is it looks like OTA has finally decided to professionalized and its welcoming to see them now utilising very reliable Nielsen data. I and others trust OTA’s effort to bring truth back into organics will be followed by the likes of IFOAM and FiBL who regularly obfuscate the realities of organics’ performance

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