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This year's Natural Products Expo West gave us an indication of just how quickly regenerative agriculture is changing the industry on a global scale.

Annie Martin

April 8, 2019

4 Min Read
How regenerative agriculture is transforming the natural products industry

In the last four years, the global discussion about healthy soils and regenerative agriculture has blossomed.

Two standards focused on soils are emerging (the ROC, currently in pilot phase and SCI, in public comment phase). General Mills has formally committed to regenerate one million acres by 2030 and announced that they would begin funding farmer trainings. Brands are talking authentically about how they are engaging with farmers and investing in healthy soils. And, of course, heated discussions are beginning to arise around greenwashing, transparency and corporate integrity.

Brands of all sizes are jumping in and revolutionizing their supply chains


REBBL is one example of what we are seeing around the country (and around the globe) as more and more brands approach regenerative agriculture as a way to reduce their emissions, strengthen their supply web, make a positive impact on communities, lower long-term costs and appeal to conscious consumers.

REBBL came to Expo West with an impact-centered booth featuring their global sourcing map, critical ingredients and supplier and producer stories. The brand attended OSC2’s Climate Day, and recognizes the holistic value in sourcing as a way to draw carbon back into the soil. REBBL is currently working on several initiatives, including: 

  • Investing in and nurturing long-term supplier relationships.

  • Working with partners who prioritize greater social and environmental impact in their communities, including providing fair wages, empowering women, access to education and agricultural training, and supporting producers in their transition to organic.

  • Making the shift towards more responsible packaging.

Organizations are stepping in to help

As the regenerative movement grows, brands are being encouraged to:

  1.  Visit farms and get to know their producers.

  2.  Educate themselves about the principles and philosophy of regenerative agriculture.

  3. Support farmers with financial and technical support (donating to farmer trainings and providing free soil testing).

  4.  Improve and progress their supply continuously over time.

  5. Practice transparency when making regenerative claims.

To assist brands and companies ready to invest in healthy soils, HowGood has built the most extensive data library on product sustainability and sales in the industry. Taking a holistic approach that considers growing guidelines, processing practices, and corporate conduct, HowGood is doubling down on sustainability and regeneration assessments and launching a series of new offerings this year.

A few of HowGood’s products include:

  • a Formulation Impact Tool for product developers,

  • a “Hot Products” selection tool for retailers,

  • a Sustainability & Sales tool in partnership with SPINS to allow brands to identify which sustainability attributes consumers actually care about in their category and

  • a suite of new and free consumer-facing applications to help people make more regenerative choices when shopping online.

At the same time, Kiss the Ground (a non-profit dedicated to inspiring participation in global regeneration and accelerating healthy soils) is addressing the needs of its network through several initiatives of its own, including:

  • Launching a brand new Regenerative Sourcing and Supply Course for brands in partnership with Terra Genesis International.

  • Creating short films about healthy soils.

  • Providing scholarships to farmers seeking regenerative agricultural training, consulting, and soil testing.

  • Educating everyone interested in learning more about soil carbon sequestration via the online Soil Advocate Training.

  • Distributing a free carbon cycle and soil science middle school curriculum.

What can we expect at Expo West 2020?

HowGood, Kiss the Ground and a variety of other organizations are already working hard to engage the next wave of brands ready to invest in healthy soils.

By next year, Kiss the Ground and Terra Genesis will graduate their first class enrolled in the Regenerative Sourcing and Supply Course, tailored specifically to brands ready to explore producer relationships, marketing and regenerative principles.

HowGood and allies will also be coming to Expo West 2020 with the following three highly impactful workshops focused on collaboration and accelerating commitments:

  1. How to Regenerate Supply: Developing strategy, tactics and timelines to bring regen ag into their system of supply.

  2. Multi-Stakeholder Accelerator: Increasing the speed of consensus building and examining where smaller, more agile groups of brands could achieve success.

  3. Financing Regenerative Agriculture: Bringing together groups of investors, enterprises and support organizations to help flow capital towards regeneration with unity and clarity.


Moving forward

As the regenerative movement continues to expand, it’s essential that we not only invest time, money, and resources into soil, but that we also address the broader mission of fostering a safer, more resilient, equitable and just food system as a whole. True regeneration will require the work of multiple stakeholders and ultimately involves pursuing positive change across every global industry. With any luck, the success of regenerative products at Natural Products Expo West is just the beginning of a revolutionary time in human history: A paradigm shift focused on reciprocity, progression, and generating greater abundance for all.

About the Author(s)

Annie Martin

Annie Martin is an activist, writer, researcher and communications manager dedicated to environmental issues related to food, water and agriculture. Her passions have led her around the world researching child malnutrition, the consequences of industrial farming and successful soil remediation techniques. Today, Annie is working with consumers, suppliers and purchasers to drive demand for regenerative products, transition farms to regenerative agriculture and inspire brands to invest in regenerative supply lines.

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