Since our launch at Natural Products Expo West 2016, we have been amplifying our collective voice for our member companies. Our return to Natural Products Expo West in 2017 marked our one-year anniversary and gave us the opportunity to look back on our successes and spend some quality time with our members.

Panel: Why Plant Based Foods Are Good for Your Business & the Planet

We loved putting together this panel featuring the best in our industry: Mo George-Payette, CEO of Mother’s Market, Lisa Feria, CEO of Stray Dog Capital, Aubry Walch, co-founder of the Herbivorous Butcher and our very own Executive Director Michele Simon as moderator.

Simon started things off by comparing the environmental impacts of plant-based foods with their animal-based counterparts to drive home the point that switching to more plant-based foods is an effective way to protect our planet.

Simon then presented recent data from SPINS to illustrate the rising sales of plant-based foods, which top total revenues of $5 billion annually. She finished with a discussion of the Dairy Pride Act and our strategic response to this attack on our members.

Panelists, from left to right: Michele Simon, Mo George-Payette, Aubry Walch, and Lisa Feria. 

Mo George-Payette of Mother’s Market reflected on the rise of plant-based options throughout her years in the natural foods industry. “We can remember back to when it was only tofu,” she remarked. She also noted the importance of product placement for plant-based foods, and the rise of flexitarians in boosting sales.

Aubry Walch, co-founder of The Herbivorous Butcher, (PBFA member) discussed her company’s decision to not “dance around terms” and instead use the names consumers are used to seeing in an ordinary butcher shop. This approach is a natural extension of their effort “to bridge a gap between omnivores and the plant-based world.”

Lisa Feria, CEO of Stray Dog Capital, (PBFA sponsor) discussed how fueling companies and services that promote plant-based diets is an effective way to help animals. Feria also highlighted the importance of supporting women in the business world, suggesting that we “pull up as we go up.”

You can watch this panel on The Herbivorous Butcher’s Facebook page here.

Panel: Eating Animals

On Saturday, our ED Michele Simon participated in the Eating Animals panel, featuring David Bronner, CEO of Dr. Bronner’s, (PBFA sponsor) Aaron Gross, CEO of Farm Forward, and Leah Garcés, director of Compassion in World Farming, as moderator. Simon discussed the challenges faced by plant-based companies when competing with subsidized animal agriculture and emphasized how everyone can support plant-based companies by voicing their opinions to their political representatives.

You can watch Michele Simon’s segment of this panel on PBFA’s Facebook page here.

PBFA’s One-Year Anniversary Reception

PBFA board member Miyoko Schinner, founder and CEO of Miyoko’s Kitchen, chats with guests.

On Saturday, as the trade show floor came to a close, it was time to celebrate all we have accomplished in this past year. An astounding 400 of our plant-based allies attended our celebration, creating a palpable energy in the room as they chatted and snacked on supreme pizza and strawberry cheesecake generously donated by founding board member Daiya Foods. We are also grateful for our additional generous event sponsors who made our reception possible: Follow Your Heart, Miyoko’s Kitchen, Tofurky, Upton’s Naturals, PlantBased Solutions, Nutpods, and Natural/Specialty Sales.

PBFA board president and Tofurky CEO Jaime Athos introduced our ED Michele Simon who addressed the bustling crowd. Simon drew attention to PBFA’s successes over the past year. Growing from 22 founding members to 80 members and 55 affiliates in PBFA’s first year alone shows the excitement within our industry. “The energy in this room shows that we are stronger together,” said Simon. “It truly takes a plant-based village to make this all happen.”

You can watch Simon’s speech on PBFA’s Facebook page here, and view our photos from Expo West on PBFA’s Facebook page here.

Jill Ettinger of Organic Authority covered the explosion (and our reception!) of plant-based foods in her article: “Natural Products Expo Breaks Attendance Records as Plant-Based Foods Chart New Course for Industry.”

We had a great time at Expo West and look forward to returning again next year.