One month shy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program's first birthday, Natural Products Expo East will showcase an international event worthy of the occasion—Organic Products Expo-BioFach America.
The event is the offspring of a partnership between two of the world's leading trade show producers for the organic products industry—New Hope Natural Media, a division of Penton Media and Nuremberg, Germany-based Nürnberg Global Fairs. It produces BioFach, the world's leading international organic exhibition.
Scott Silverman, organic program manager for New Hope, has high praise for what the combined experience of these two trade show heavyweights means for organics. "New Hope sees this as a bridge for organic companies from all over the world," he says. "As a result, we are creating a really exciting international organic event."
Herta Krausmann, managing director of Nürnberg Global Fairs, BioFach's parent company, agrees. "Our combined experience will bring the American and international organic worlds together," she says. "The momentum that BioFach Nuremberg has built, with more than 2,000 exhibitors from over 50 countries, will continue in Washington, D.C."
One hundred and seventy-five international companies are sponsoring more than 200 exhibits. Pakistan, Chile, Bolivia, Italy and Germany are but a few of the countries represented. And, although 5 percent of the products are not certified by a USDA accredited certifier, 95 percent are, according to Silverman. The others are certified by agencies accredited by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, the European private nonprofit entity that sets standards for organic accreditation.
The new partnership also means an expanded organic education program at Expo East. One highlight is a discussion Friday afternoon featuring Bob Scowcroft, executive director of the Organic Farming Research Foundation; Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association; Bernward Geier, director of international relations for IFOAM; and writer and consultant Elaine Lipson. These industry leaders will review the state of the industry with a focus on organics.
But, according to Silverman, Organic Products Expo-BioFach America is more than just education and networking, it's also a celebration. "We're celebrating the diversity of products, organic farmers and the growth of organics," he says.
And since 1990, organic growth has kept a steady pace. Nutrition Business Journal reported that North American organic food sales have grown an average of almost 20 percent per year during the past 12 years. Global retail sales of organic food totaled $18.2 billion in 2001. "Sales of organic products continue to increase internationally," Krausmann says. "Organic food production is stepping up as consumer interest continues to strengthen as a result of growing awareness of health issues and lifestyle changes."
Silverman believes this new partnership is about something larger than business. "It's really a milestone for the organic industry," he says. "It's about growing the organic industry with integrity." It's also about a larger presence on the world stage. "By partnering with BioFach," Silverman says, "we have greater resources at our fingertips."
And as for the NOP's anniversary, maybe it will help to think of it not like a "first" but as recognition of a colorful past and great successes. As Silverman says, "What we're doing is a sign of the international maturity of the industry."
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIV/number 9/p. 24, 26