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

Session III: 3:30pm - 5:00pm

Despite providing the volume and integrity required for market growth to date, loads of highly experienced organic growers work small and mid-sized ecologically balanced farms that will not fit into one-stop transactional models used by larger retailers and national chains. Natural foods distributors and retailers are challenged to focus on the growers who got us here and, must be included to move the “organic and beyond” agenda forward. This workshop will explore how a handful or successful retailers and wholesalers are differentiating themselves from their competitors through their best practices and strategies

Speakers: Daniel Arnett; Mike Boyle, Organically Grown Company; Karen Salinger, Veritable Vegetable; Susanna Schultz, Central Co-Op

Speaker Bios

Karen Salinger, a second-generation native to San Francisco, began her career in the produce industry in 1978.  Karen is currently  Co-Owner and Sales Director of Veritable Vegetable.  As an organic produce distributor with over 40 years of experience, Veritable Vegetable purchases, transports and supplies the highest quality organic fruits, vegetables and fresh perishables. Veritable Vegetable's Sales Department consists of a team of ten Account Managers who maintain over 400 accounts in six states.  The company keeps its green fleet of trucks on the road seven days a week, 365 days a year and distributes organic fruits and vegetables in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Hawaii.  Veritable Vegetable builds an equitable food system by supporting organic farmers, increasing access to fresh produce, strengthening communities, and cultivating a fair and dynamic workplace. They are unique in their commitment to make every business decision based on core values. Veritable Vegetable is a certified B Corporation, using the power of business to solve social and environmental challenges.  In 2016, Veritable Vegetable was certified as a San Francisco Green Business.    

 Susanna Schultz heads the Marketing team at Central Co-op in Seattle, WA, a natural grocery co-op which celebrated its 40th year in 2018. In her years at Central Co-op the Co-op has updated owner benefits, launched two new websites, adopted an online ordering platform for home delivery, converted to a Solidarity Model of worker and consumer ownership, merged with the Tacoma Food Co-op, and implemented a better than $15/hr entry level wage - all of which has provided rich fodder for marketing, public relations and public affairs strategy. Susanna has just completed a Masters of Management in Cooperatives and Credit Unions at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.