The PBFA team is still buzzing with excitement days after this year’s Plant Based World Expo, where we were able to meaningfully connect with so many PBFA members, colleagues, and leaders from across the industry in person again! We are so grateful to our partners at Plant Based World and JD Events for organizing and hosting this year’s show.
Connecting and updating members before the show
Before the show floor opened, PBFA kicked off Plant Based World with an exclusive, members-only pre-event that was stacked with networking, comradery, and big announcements! Our CEO Rachel Dreskin and Board President Nicole Sopko opened the event by unveiling our new three-year Strategic Plan. As Rachel asserted in her address to members, we believe that PBFA and the industry we represent have a key role to play in driving transformation to a plant-based food system––for the benefit of people, the planet, and animals––and our strategic plan clearly outlines how we will achieve these goals.
Rachel and Nicole shared our plans to expand our membership in both number and diversity, provide enhanced membership benefits, and create an even more active and thriving community. In addition, it was announced that PBFA’s non-profit sister organization will be rebranding and officially relaunching as the Plant Based Foods Institute (PBFI)! PBFI will work in tandem with PBFA to identify and implement impactful strategies for businesses and food system participants to enable all involved to proactively work towards a plant-based future. There will be more exciting news to share on PBFA’s new initiatives and the official launch of PBFI in the near future–stay tuned!
Meeting members and sampling innovation on the expo floor
We are thrilled to share that 60 members exhibited at this year’s Plant Based World Conference & Expo! Not only was this an incredible opportunity for the PBFA team to connect with members and learn more about the inspiring work they do in person, but also with so much innovation on display, it was clear that the plant-based foods industry is stronger (and more delicious!) than ever!
We were also grateful to have had the opportunity to hear from members directly about their exciting plans for expansion, talk through how they have navigated this unprecedented time, and discuss ways PBFA can further support their growth in an effective and proactive manner. Many exhibiting members were able to make new connections with prospective retailers, investors, and other industry contacts, and we look forward to facilitating more networking opportunities in the future.
Sharing industry insights and facilitating all-star panels
Members of the PBFA team were honored to take the stage alongside so many incredible thought leaders during the conference portion of Plant Based World. The opening keynote, Growth of the Plant-Based Industry, was moderated by PBFA advisor, Plantega CEO, and Eat For the Planet host Nil Zacharias and featured an all-star ensemble of industry leaders–including Rachel Dreskin, CEO of PBFA; Susie Weintraub, CEO of Envision Group, A Division of Compass Group; and Marcellus Harris, Assistant Commodity Manager of Poultry at Kroger.
Bringing together representatives of the biggest suppliers, retailers, and foodservice players, the panel discussion highlighted the growth of the plant-based industry over the past two years while centering the conversation around the need for broad systems change to make plant-based foods more accessible across the country. The energy in the room was electric, and it was clear from attendees’ excitement that the collaborative and holistic approach to plant-based that the panelists were advocating for was a message of hope for all those in the audience.
Later that afternoon, PBFA’s Senior Director of Retail Partnerships Julie Emmett moderated Merchandising: A Total Store Strategy, a panel featuring Joby Koffman, Chairman of Abe’s Vegan Muffins; Mary Tarczynski, Principal Client Solutions Lead at Parabolic; and Erin Ransom, SVP Growth: Marketing, Sales and Product Innovation at PBFA member Tofurky. The enriching and informative discussion dove into the many ways leading retailers are merchandising plant-based foods, the top trends in brand strategies to market their products, and how to effectively merchandise foods to reach unique audiences.
The second day of PBW featured a full roster of powerful educational content on the conference stage. The morning kicked off with Menu Makeover Live!, moderated by PBFA’s Senior Dir. Strategic Initiatives Sabina Vyas and featuring Michelle Adelman, co-founder and CEO of PBFA member Infinite Foods; Ilana Braverman, Director of Outreach at Farm Forward and Better Food; James Corwell, Certified Master Chef of BlueDot Foods; Palak Patel, Chef and Owner of Dash & Chutney; and Armetha Pihlstrom, PBFA board member and Senior Director of U.S. and Canada Foodservice Sales for Future Farm. Panelists discussed the power of plant-based options in transforming menus to meet consumer demand, how to provide appealing plant-based choices for people of all dietary stripes, and strategies to make plant-based foods more accessible in foodservice.
The importance of making plant-based foods more affordable and accessible was a theme that came up again and again throughout Plant Based World. Speaking to the food landscape in New York City, the panel, Case Study: Transforming New York City with Plantega, showcased a unique partnership between city corner stores and plant-based food companies to do just that. Moderated by Plant Based World’s own Ben Davis, the panel featured speakers such as Rachel Atcheson, Deputy Strategist, Office of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams; Jaime Athos, PBFA board secretary and CEO of founding member Tofurky; Miyoko Schinner, CEO and Founder of Miyoko’s Kitchen; and Nil Zacharias, CEO of Plantega. The conversation broke down the prevalence of food swamps in major cities and what lessons can be learned from the success of Plantega in New York that can be broadly applied to other major cities in the U.S.
The final panel of the conference, What Motivates the Flexitarian Consumer? was a perfect encapsulation of the critical challenges, trends, and solutions touched on during this year’s conference. The panel was moderated by Nova Sayers, VP of Growth & Innovation at HowGood, and featured speakers GW Chew, PBFA board member and Chef and Owner at Something Better Foods; Rachel Dreskin, CEO of PBFA; Emma Ignaszewski, Corporate Engagement Project Manager at The Good Food Institute; Leslie Ewing, Executive Director of Plant-Based Foods of Canada; and Henry Firth, Founder of BOSH! TV.
During the discussion, panelists tackled key questions about consumer motivation and roadblocks in global supply networks. There was an overarching message of hope, however, as panelists highlighted the strength of the plant-based foods industry and the collective desire to make measurable positive change on behalf of public and environmental health through strategic initiatives, education campaigns, product innovation, and more.
The plant-based foods industry is always growing and evolving, and Plant Based World was the perfect opportunity for experts and company representatives to share best practices and strategies for success. PBFA members were featured across the educational programming at the show, illustrating the synergistic nature of the industry.
Maria Tolchinsky and Karen Constanza of PBFA member Ingredion hosted a learning garden session on developing plant-based products and their work to help companies bring their food to market.
Naomi Canty of PBFA member NewFields Cheese joined the panel Do it Yourself! A Private Label Conversation, which explored the value of private label for meat and dairy alternatives and how companies can effectively source ingredients for their private label foods.
Many plant-based food companies have moved into e-commerce over the past few years, and the E-Commerce – The Future and How We Get There panel addressed how leading retailers are approaching e-commerce, as well as the challenges and advantages of moving into an online marketplace. The panel featured a number of PBFA company members, including David Benzaquen, Founder of PlantBelly.com; and Kory Zelickson, CEO of Veiji.
Experts also took to the Plant Based World stage to discuss the meaning of clean label and how to navigate which labels are most valuable to consumers on the panel, The Meaning of Clean Label – Communicating with the Empowered Consumer. Adam Grogan, COO of PBFA member Greenleaf Foods, joined a number of industry leaders in this engaging and nuanced conversation.
If you couldn’t make it to this year’s Plant Based World, we are thrilled to share that Plant Based World Conference & Expo will be returning to the Javits Center in New York City on September 8-9th, 2022! If you are interested in exhibiting, contact Sam Morley at 203-307-2684 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about Plant Based World Conference & Expo, visit http://www.plantbasedworldexpo.com.