BOULDER, Colo., Jun 27, 2007 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The inaugural Organic Summit ( www.theorganicsummit.com), held here June 20 to 22, attracted more than 200 organic activists, representing the full spectrum of the booming organic industry. The charter conference theme, "Renewing The Organic Conversation," spurred critical exchange between attending farmers, certifiers, manufacturers, retailers, academics and advocates. The conference was produced by New Hope Natural Media, a division of Penton Media, in partnership with the Organic Farming Research Foundation.
"Together, the attendees of the Organic Summit represented the entire organic food production chain and the future of the U.S. organic food supply," said Fred Linder, president of New Hope Natural Media. "New Hope is proud to provide a platform for dialogue in organic; that dialogue has never been more energetic or more focused on the future."
Organic Summit keynote speaker Walter Robb, co-president and COO for Whole Foods Markets, challenged the audience of organic leaders to reclaim its idealism, as an industry and a movement. "Let's re-seed, re-soil and re-soul the organic industry and mentor the next generation of organic leaders," said Robb in his closing address.
A top issue discussed throughout the conference was the importance of continued growth in organic, which is now expanding 14 percent annually, with $15.7 billion in consumer sales in 2006, according to the Nutrition Business Journal ( www.nutritionbusiness.com.) Many thought leaders called for greater industry unity and continued vigilance of organic regulation. Other attendees appealed for significant increases in funding organic research, both at the farm and the university level, and for focused consumer educational campaigns.
Industry leaders will continue their discussion of key issues facing the industry on the Organic Summit blog ( http://lainie.typepad.com/organicsummit/).
"We gathered on common ground to share our individual perspectives and experience," said Bob Scowcroft, executive director for the Organic Farming Research Foundation. "Ultimately, we fulfilled the goal by serving as a catalyst to open and civil discourse for the betterment of organic in the future. The focus was forward-looking instead of rehashing the past."
Other Organic Summit highlights included:
-- A challenge for producers to 'go beyond organic' from Fred Kirschenmann. organic farmer and Distinguished Fellow for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. He asked organic producers to consider whether or not their businesses, including farms, will still be around if oil hits $250 a barrel or if water supplies are cut in half.
-- A directive for the organic industry to "Dream big or don't leave home!" from self-described CEO-in Exile Steve Demos, the founder of White Wave Foods Inc.
Charter sponsors of the inaugural conference include Premier Sponsors Horizon Organic and Silk, as well as Gold Sponsors Aurora Organic Dairy and Applegate Farms and Silver Sponsors, Allegro Coffee, Cascadian Farms, Clif Bar & Co, Clover Organic Farms, Coleman Natural Foods, Green & Black's, Jacob's Farm, New Chapter Organic, RSF Social Finance, Sterling-Rice Group, Stonyfield Farm, Under the Canopy, The Fresh Ideas Group, The Hain Celestial Group and Whole Foods Market - Rocky Mountain Region.
The Organic Farming Research Foundation ( www.ofrf.org) is a national nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1990 to foster the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming practices. OFRF's mission is to sponsor research related to organic farming; to disseminate research results to organic farmers and to growers interested in adopting organic production systems; and to educate the public and decision makers about organic farming issues. Working organic farmers from across the United States comprise the majority of OFRF's Board of Directors.
New Hope Natural Media ( www.newhope.com), a division of Penton Media, Inc., is a leading media resource and information provider for the natural, organic and healthy products industry, with print, in-person/event, and e-business products and services. Penton Media, Inc. is the largest independent business-to-business media company in the U.S., serving more than six million business professionals every month. The company's market-leading brands are focused on 30 industries and include 113 trade magazines, 145 Web sites, 150 industry trade shows and conferences, and more than 500 information data products. Headquartered in New York City, the privately held company is owned by MidOcean Partners and U.S. Equity Partners II, an investment fund sponsored by Wasserstein & Co., LP, and its co-investors. For additional information on the company and its businesses, visit www.penton.com.