A Better Future for the Organic Trade: Differentiation in the Age of Consolidation

The organic trade is changing significantly as larger retailers require greater volumes and lower price points as they take organic further into the mainstream. In some cases, national chains are closing regional buying offices and reducing transactions with regional suppliers; in others they are dropping long-time organic farmers in order to support the transition of conventional producers who will provide them both conventional and organic product in one stop loadings. Despite providing the volume and integrity required for market growth to date, there are loads of highly experienced organic growers working small and mid-sized ecologically balanced farms that will not fit into this “go big or go home” model. As this historic production base is sidelined, it provides challenge for the natural foods distributors and retailers to focus on the growers who got us here and who are required in order to move the “organic and beyond” agenda forward. Independent retailers play a big role in this by giving a market place to these producers, and differentiating the shopping experience for their customers. Independent wholesalers are crucial in connecting and moving food between these small and mid-sized growers and the independent retailers. This workshop will explore how a handful or successful retailers and wholesalers are differentiating themselves from their competitors What are some best practices? What are some strategies that are often overlooked that help sell the true value of your products? In what ways do the small and mid-size grower/distributor/retailer need to bind together to overcome this challenging phase of our organic food movement?