"We’ve been taught forever that business operates like a machine, but wait a minute—there are ripple effects to every single solitary decision we make. But we're not trained to think that way."
—Sheryl O'Loughlin, REBBL
Part 1: Defining and maintaining authenticity
- Five years from now, what is regenerative going to mean to the mass market? We should set standards to measure what we’re talking about. The fact that “regenerative” includes labor is huge, and we want to ensure that continues.
- If we define regenerative right, we can keep it from being co-opted and going the way of "natural." If we just talk about the soil, we’re failing.
- What does regenerative mean not just for agriculture, but for the business? We’ve been taught that business operates like a machine, but there are ripple effects to every decision we make.
Part 2: Role of the brand
- Consumers are savvy today. They know if you’re serious when you talk about transparency and traceability.
- We need to internalize costs for a higher-quality product that raises the bar on various environmental and social standards. What is the investor willing to accept? There might be half a trillion in capital represented at Natural Products Expo West, between brands and finance institutions. How much are they thinking about what that looks like in a decade, considering what we’re facing with issues like climate change and child labor?
- Small farmers need to be able to do what they do best in cultivating their ingredients, and need suppliers and others in the chain who they trust and who can help them. At the end of the day, the consumer-facing brands are what create value for everybody in that chain.
Part 3: The business case
- We need to stick together—not criticizing or trying to outdo one another in how pure a company can be—in working toward a regenerative model that can be financially successful. We can work together to build up and expand supply of sustainable ingredients, rather than competing for a limited supply.
- There are investments brands can make in small farms and supply chains to help stabilize and increase supply.
- We need to change policy so that costs that have long been externalized are no longer externalized; organic would actually be cheaper if consumers had to pay the real cost of food.
This session—The Business Case for Leading a Regenerative Movement—was recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2018.