What does the future of food look like? I hope in some ways it looks more like the past, with people caring about where their food comes from and how it’s produced, and respecting those who produce it.
I had the opportunity to discuss the future of food recently as part of a panel at LOHAS Forum 2012 in Boulder. LOHAS stands for lifestyles of health and sustainability, and for a consumer segment of 13 to 19 percent of U.S. adults who are particularly interested in health, the environment and sustainable living. LOHAS Forum is an annual gathering of brands, researchers, analysts and influencers who care about this space, meeting in Boulder – where so many organic food brands, like Horizon Organic and Silk,got their start.
It was a real pleasure to be there and to share the stage with Steve Demos, founder of Silk Soymilk and WhiteWave Inc., which later became WhiteWave Foods, the parent company of Horizon Organic. Joining Steve and I on the panel was Elizabeth Candelario, marketing director at Demeter USA, part of the world’s only certifier of Biodynamic® farms and products. Liz Myslik, CEO of Fresca Brands, was an excellent moderator for our group.
There were a couple of points that are important to me. One is my belief that those of us acting as stewards of great brands like Horizon Organic have an obligation to use the power of these brands to educate consumers and grow the organic market. More consumer demand for organic means more farm acres converted, which means fewer pesticides used – like the 20 million pounds of pesticides Horizon Organic farmers helped keep off the land in 2011 alone.
Transparency is another core value for me. Trust is the cornerstone of all organic brands, so transparency is imperative – from the supply chain to the product label to the USDA Organic Seal. USDA Organic is the gold standard and we must do all we can to strengthen it.
Serving on the panel was a great opportunity to talk about Horizon Organic’s partnership with the more than 600 family farmers in 23 states who supply more than 90 percent of our milk. When we work together to grow the organic dairy category, we create more opportunities for farm families to prosper.
One audience member asked about the parent company for WhiteWave, Dean Foods. I was proud to say that Dean has been a supportive partner for the Horizon Organic brand in good times and in bad. All of our businesses at WhiteWave, including Horizon Organic, are run independently. Dean’s consistent support, in good times and in bad, has been very important to us and to the farmers, retailers and consumers who depend on us.
What do you think the future of food should look like? Share your thoughts and comments here.