Gary Hirshberg is Co-Founder and Chief Organic Optimist of Stonyfield Farm, the world’s leading organic yogurt producer, and the author of Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World (Hyperion, 2008). Gary frequently speaks and consults on topics including sustainability, organic agriculture and the profitability of green business.
Gary led Stonyfield from its 1983 infancy as a seven-cow organic farming school to $365 million in annual sales when he stepped down as “CE-Yo” at the end of 2011. During his tenure Stonyfield enjoyed a compounded annual growth rate of over 23% by consistently producing superior products and using innovative marketing that blended the company’s social, environmental, and financial missions. Gary arranged the sale of Stonyfield to Danone in 2001, and then after staying on as chief executive for an additional decade, moved into the Chairman role and also became the Managing Director of Stonyfield Europe, launching organic brands in France, Ireland, Italy and Spain. He resigned from his Danone responsibilities in March 2017 when Danone was required by the US Dept. of Justice to divest its Stonyfield holdings. Gary remains a senior advisor under the new owners Groupe Lactalis.
Gary serves on several corporate boards including Blue Apron (meal kits), Forager (plant based foods and beverages), Orgain (organic protein powders and foods), Peak Organic Brewing (craft beer), and UNreal (chocolates) as well as Advisory Board member for Applegate (organic and natural meats). He has previously served on the boards of Annie’s (organic pasta and snacks), Applegate, Glenisk (Organic Dairy, Ireland), Honest Tea (organic teas and drinks), King Arthur Flour, Late July (organic salty snacks), Les Deux Vaches (organic yogurt, France), Sambazon (organic acai), Sweetgreen Café’s (natural fast food) and Sweet Earth Natural Foods (plant based meals) and was instrumental in the sale of 5 of those firms to larger strategic CPG’s. He also advices many young and emerging entrepreneurs in a wide variety of fields and is currently coaching the CEO’s of Handsome Brook Farms (Organic Pasture Eggs, NY), Brookford Farm (Diversified Organic Farm, NH), Grace’s Good Food (Organic Instant Soups, CO), Thorvald (Sheeps Cheese and Yogurt, Nelson NZ), and Wheyward Spirit (Natural Spirits, OR) among others. He is also an investor in over 20 natural products firms and funds.
In terms of non-corporate activities, he is Chairman and a founding Partner of Organic Voices, a consortium that seeks to eliminate consumer confusion about the benefits of organic. He is also the founder and managing director of the Hirshberg Entrepreneurship Institute which produces annual boot camps for early stage and emerging enterprises in Boulder, CO and Auckland, NZ. He was also the Founder and Chairman of Just Label It, We Have the Right to Know, the national campaign to label genetically engineered foods, and co-author of Label It Now – What You Need to Know About Genetically Engineered Foods (New Word City, 2012).
Gary has received 12 honorary doctorates and numerous awards for corporate and environmental leadership including a 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award by the US EPA. In 2011, President Obama appointed him to serve on the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations, where he served until February 2017. He was named a Yale Gordon Grand Fellow, one of “America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs” by Business Week and one of the top ten, “most inspiring people in sustainable food” by Fast Company. Gary was featured in the successful 2009 documentary “Food, Inc.”
Gary is the husband of writer Meg Cadoux Hirshberg and the father of three adult yogurt eaters, all of whom now work in organic and sustainability ventures.