‘Organic Oscars’ ceremony coming to Natural Products Expo West

Organic pioneer Gary Hirshberg and business owner Jennifer Garner emcee "An Organic Night Out: Honoring the Year's Best in Organic" in March. Get the details.

Douglas Brown, Senior Retail Reporter

February 9, 2024

4 Min Read
An Organic Night Out: Honoring the Year’s Best in Organic

When the U.S. Department of Agriculture formally kicked off the organic movement in 1990, the industry raked in $1 billion in sales. Fast forward to 2022, when organic sales hit $67.6 billion, with a year-over-year growth rate of 4%, doubling the 2021 rate.

The industry has boomed and continues to expand at a faster pace than conventional food. A big reason? Brands. Without brands providing markets for organic farms, and educating consumers about the advantages of organic products, the industry today could easily be minuscule rather than muscular.

As the once nascent industry matures into its 34th year, it’s time to celebrate its most needle-moving brands with an Academy Awards-like ceremony, said Gary Hirshberg, co-founder of Stonyfield Farm, the world’s leading organic yogurt producer. To that end, Hirshberg and actress and co-founder of the organic children's nutrition company Once Upon a Farm Jennifer Garner will serve as emcees at An Organic Night Out: Honoring the Year’s Best in Organic on Wednesday, March 13, at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California.

The gala, sponsored by The Organic Center and Organic Voices/Only Organic, will serve as an engaging spectacle of organic celebration, education and networking. Among the highlights: a science fair involving a diversity of industry stakeholders; explorations of cutting-edge research and industry gains; the world’s biggest all-organic networking event, complete with organic beverages and heavy appetizers; a post-ceremony party with live music and open bar; and the grand awards ceremony, where Hirshberg and Garner welcome brands making a difference today to the stage.

Jennifer Garner, left, and Gary Hirshberg, right, will emcee the first-ever An Organic Night Out: Honoring the Year’s Best in Organic at Expo West 2024.

“The ceremony honors best practices, activities by businesses and brands that help the rising tide lift all boats, that help us expand organic and welcome more into its big tent,” Hirshberg said. “We will celebrate the brands, retailers and organizations that today are helping to make all of this outstanding science-based information about organic more user friendly to consumers.”

Brands represent a vital foundation for the industry’s dramatic upward trajectory. But science, too, has helped guide its path, from research spotlighting how organic’s rejection of hundreds of pesticides improves human and environmental health, to how organic farming practices bolster and enrich soil health. Among other things, the awards ceremony champions brands that distill critical organic science and research and broadcast it in easily digestible, meaningful ways to consumers.

“We are excited about recognizing the importance of messaging around what organic means,” said Amber Sciligo, director of science programs for The Organic Center, an independent, nonprofit satellite of the Organic Trade Association. Siligo holds a doctorate in ecology, evolution, systematics and population biology from Lincoln University in New Zealand. “We have to continuously clarify what organic means to consumers, especially when there are so many other labels coming out. We must work together on that messaging and try to keep showcasing that key and clarifying content for consumers.”

The categories for these first-ever industry awards, honor leadership and innovation in eight categories:

  • Best New Organic Food/Beverage

  • Best New Organic Non-Food Product

  • Best Organic Messaging: Better for the Planet, People or Animals

  • Best Organic PR or Social Media Activation

  • Best Retailer Organic Activation

  • Most Impactful Organic Research Result or Finding

  • Emerging Organic Entrepreneur of the Year

  • Organic Company of the Year

Long before Garner and Hirshberg announce the winners on stage, panels of experts will have scrutinized nominees and offered three finalists, as well as winners, for each category.

“We’ve had these big grand gala-style events in the past that have been fun, but maybe not fun enough, and without enough time for people to really network and build community,” Sciligo said. “After COVID, I feel like we are at this place where people are craving human connection in ways they didn’t before. We have to nurture these relationships. So, this event is designed to maximize the ability to network and build community.”

Update: The date of the event has changed since this article was first published. It is now correct.


Click here to learn more about Natural Products Expo West, scheduled for March 12-16 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. Be sure to subscribe for updates while you're there!

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About the Author(s)

Douglas Brown

Senior Retail Reporter, New Hope Network

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