The inaugural Organic Summit, held June 20-22, attracted more than 200 organic activists. The charter conference theme, Renewing The Organic Conversation, spurred critical exchange between attending farmers, certifiers, manufacturers, retailers, academics and advocates.
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. Lets 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.