The only thing certain in the food industry right now is change. Coca Cola and Goldman Sachs just acquired a 50% stake in organic juice company, Suja, and every day it seems that another organic company is being acquired. So what gives?
It turns out that the market cap of Coke and Pepsi alone are ten times the size of the entire organic industry. So what does that mean to the organic food industry? It means that if those two companies wanted to gobble up the entire organic industry, they could.
Right now, organic represents about 5% of the food and beverage industry, but less than 1% of U.S. farmland is organic. There has to be a seismic shift in our food system, and right now, that power play is in the hands of the big players.
The recent acquisition of Annie’s by General Mills has opened up a conversation. We plan to dive into it on Friday, September 25th, with Robyn O’Brien moderating and panelists, John Foraker, the CEO of Annie’s, and Gary Hirshberg, the founder of Stonyfield. It’s an important conversation, and one that you don’t want to miss.
Robyn O’Brien–A former food industry analyst, author, and mother of four, Robyn O’Brien triggered an allergic reaction in the food world when she asked a simple question: “Are we allergic to our food or what’s been done to it?” She brings compassion, insight and detailed analysis to her research into the impact that recent changes to our food supply are having on the health of families. Robyn has been called “food’s Erin Brockovich” by the New York Times, “an inspiring woman to follow on Twitter” by Forbes Woman and”visionary” by the Discover Channel. Robyn is the founder of the AllergyKids Foundation, and author of the critically acclaimed book, “The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It”. Robyn’s work is recognized and supported by individuals such as Dr. Oz, Ted Turner, Bonnie Raitt and Prince Charles and has been seen in the national media, as part of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and in short films and documentaries around the world. Robyn will be a keynote speaker at the ShiftCon 2014 Conference and will be sharing her expertise on the dangers of America’s food supply and her experience with protecting herself and her family. You can learn more about Robyn and her amazing work at www.robynobrien.com, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Gary Hirshberg–Gary Hirshberg is Chairman of Stonyfield Farm, the world’s leading organic yogurt producer, and Managing Director of Stonyfield Europe, with organic brands in Ireland and France. Gary serves on several corporate and nonprofit boards including Applegate, Peak Organic Brewing, Late July, Quantum Design, Glenisk, the Danone Communities Fund and the Danone Livelihoods Fund. In 2011, President Obama appointed Gary to serve on the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. He is Chairman and a founding Partner of “Just Label It!,” the national campaign to label genetically engineered foods, and is co-author of Label It Now – What You Need to Know About Genetically Engineered Foods. He is the author of Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World. Gary has received twelve honorary doctorates and numerous awards for corporate and environmental leadership including a 2015 Champion for Children Award from Mount Sinai Hospital’s Children’s Environmental Health Center and a 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award by the US EPA.
John Foraker–John Foraker is the President and former Chief Executive Officer of Annie’s, Inc. and a leading authority in the organic and natural foods industry. With more than 20 years of business experience and a sharp focus on sustainability and social responsibility, Foraker’s vision for growing Annie’s has always relied on transparent leadership and an over-arching commitment to creativity, innovation and honesty. Prior to assuming his role as President in October 2014, Foraker led investors to place growth capital into Annie’s in 1999, earning his title as Chairman of the Board. Beginning in 2004, Foraker led as Annie’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), taking Annie’s public under the BNNY symbol in 2012, just prior to the company’s buyout by General Mills, Inc. in October 2014. A featured expert spokesperson in the organic and natural foods industry, Foraker has been featured in Fast Company, Bloomberg News and Wall Street Journal, in addition to other platinum media outlets. Foraker has also shared his leadership and expertise with business owners and audiences at home in the Bay Area and across the country, addressing organizations like the Berkeley Entrepreneurs Forum, the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and the Nutrition Business Journal Conference, among others. Most recently, Foraker was awarded EY Entrepreneur of the Year® 2015 in Northern California, recognizing his entrepreneurial excellence in the retail and consumer products category. In addition to his role as President, Foraker also leads within the greater General Mills organization as an advisor for the company’s small business incubator 301, Inc., a new venture group that invests in small promising companies. Prior to his tenure at Annie’s, Foraker served as Vice President at Bank of America, overseeing commercial banking client relationship management in the bank’s premium wine business portfolio. Foraker holds a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural economics from the University of California, Davis and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley.