The inaugural Organic Produce Summit delivered, attracting about 800 attendees — including more than 70 exhibitors and representatives from 100-plus purchasing groups.
 
Event speakers gave plenty of evidence for organics’ ascendance
  • Growth in organic consumption has been nothing short of explosive; fresh sales make up about $13 billion of a $43.3 billion market that saw historic growth in 2015, up $11 billion from the previous year.
     
  • Market research firm Nielsen puts organic produce sales in supermarkets, big box and warehouse or club stores at $5.5 billion.
     
  • Produce takes up nearly a third — a 30%-plus share — of organic sales through 2015, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Organic Trade Association.
     
  • Average item value for organics is about 20% higher than conventional for online grocery sales, said presenter Tony Stallone, vice president of merchandising for Peapod, compared to 12% to 15% at supermarkets.
     
  • The trend toward organic eating is spilling over to foodservice as more operators are offering organic fruits and vegetables and more grower-shippers are supplying them. Salinas, Calif., grower-shipper Church Brothers Farms launched an organic program May 1, with product choices based on Chicago-based consulting and research firm Technomic’s Menu Monitor data.
During the expo, organic advocate Tonya Antle called Matt Seeley, vice president of marketing for The Nunes Co. and Foxy Organic, a “visionary” for his work in organizing the summit.
 
Event planners say they will build on this year’s performance with more booths and attendees in 2017 when it moves to what will be the newly renovated Monterey Conference Center.
 
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