Jul 19, 2022
OPS 2022 shows organic produce future bright

Connecting with consumers in an era of inflation, the rise of omnichannel marketing and the future of supply chain sustainability were among the hot button issues at the sixth annual Organic Produce Summit, held last week in Monterey, California.

With a record 1,700 attendees, organic fresh produce growers, shippers and producers met with over 300 retailers from across North America discussing the growth of organic fresh produce and the opportunities that lie ahead to further bolster sales and consumption in line with evolving consumer lifestyles.

OPS 2022 kicked off with a series of retailer and buyer field tours, followed by a gala opening reception on day one. The event featured six educational sessions and a trio of keynote presentations which featured organic producers and leadership from retailers discussing the growth and evolution of the organic produce industry. It concluded with over 150 organic producers highlighting their products to retailers and buyers.

Among the standout activities of the two-day OPS were a trio of keynote presentations featuring leadership from several of the nation’s most progressive retailers. John Ruane, senior vice president omnichannel merchandising and chief merchandising officer for The GIANT company, discussed how the grocery landscape has evolved over the years, and the importance of retailers developing a consistent shopping experience across all consumer touchpoints to create a seamless brand experience.

Sharing the journey from single channel to multichannel to cross channel and omnichannel to gain consumer trust, Ruane said the objective is to make it easier for consumer to get what they want, when they want it. “The customer wants to save time and money and they want solutions,” said Ruane. “They also want unlimited assortment, the best prices, and great quality.” The keys to success, he said, are adapting to change and innovation, having an expanded knowledge base, understanding critical ecommerce metrics and growing with strategic vendor partners.

“The Future of Grocery Retailing,” led by Walter Robb, former co-CEO of Whole Foods and current Principal of Stonewall Robb Advisors, featured retailers Michael Schutt, director of produce for Raley’s, Jeff Cady, director of produce for Tops Markets, and Edmund LaMacchia, former global vice president of procurement for Whole Foods, discussed how the industry can maintain growth in the face of supply chain issues, the role of technology and e-commerce, the evolving consumer, and new innovations in retail.

In the third Keynote, Plastic Bank founder David Katz engaged OPS attendees on the challenges of ridding the world’s ocean of plastic, and how he developed an ecosystem that provides consumers living in impoverished areas an opportunity to collect and trade plastic waste for currency.

During the educational sessions, attendees heard from experts of the growth of regenerative agriculture, supply chain and sustainability challenges, and a look at the state of Controlled Environment Agriculture.

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