Expo West Hosts 2nd Annual CEO Summit

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Anaheim, CA — The 2nd Annual CEO Summit took place at Expo West. Established last year by David Janow, CEO of Axiom Foods, the purpose of the CEO Summit is to provide a peer-to-peer atmosphere in which industry leadership may have an open forum to discuss the latest topics of concern and other news with each other and with the press. The Summit was comprised of eight CEO’s from various natural and organic vectors such as agriculture, cleaning, fashion and food and was moderated by Kantha Shelke, Ph.D. With organic and natural products on the rise, more consumers are looking to embrace the lifestyle and benefits provided by living clean. Present on the CEO board with Janow and Shelke were Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, CEO of Earth Friendly Products, Vanessa Dew, CEO of Health-Ade Kombucha, Marci Zaroff, CEO of Metawear, Rob Robillard, CEO of Nourish Organics, Annie Ryu, CEO of The Jackfruit Company, Co-founders of Imlak’esh Organics Philip Richardson and Tucker Garrison and Dino Sarti, CEO of Aloe Gloe.

The Summit began with moderator Dr. Shelke, who stated that companies involved with producing all natural products should look towards taking the same oath that medical professionals do to “do no harm” in regards to foods they are creating.  Shelke stated that “food science is still very young and we are just now learning about what is good and what is not. There is no chemical-free food; even water is a chemical.” The average consumer is used to relying on the information that is being provided to them by the company of the product they are buying, which can be very overwhelming. Because of this, one of the questions she had asked of the CEO’s present was “how do companies maintain their integrity?”

In regards to accessibility of natural products, a member of the press asked what the industries were doing to make organic and natural products available to lower socio-economic consumers and underserved communities. David Janow stated that “one of things I’ve seen is as prices for natural products, just like technology, have gone up in the beginning, they are starting to come down. There are companies out there now, companies for example that make a plant-based tuna fish that tastes like tuna fish, that are looking to serve the underprivileged and the people who can’t necessarily walk into Whole Foods [Market] and get good products but who can walk into a Ralph’s and walk into a Bonds or a 7-11 and find natural products there that they have a choice to buy that can be affordable. Many people are trying to reduce the price of their products for this reason.”

In addition to the affordability of quality, natural products to all consumers who would like access to them was an overall theme of what the world will look like when more people embrace a natural lifestyle. Philip Richardson and Tucker Garrison, wondered “what will the world look like 1000 years from now? Will we be one of the species that makes adaptive choices that will render us extinct or intact?” Janow stated that “it’s predicted that by 2050 most (people) will get protein from plants,” based on statistics by the UN that by then there will be enough land and water to grow meat. Zaroff of Metawear pointed out that “fashion is the #1 polluter in the world next to coal. Most don’t realize that fashion and textiles account for 10% of the world’s carbon impact and carcinogenic pesticides are used on fields growing cotton.” Since the fashion industry continues to grow enormously year after year, the footprint made could be significantly reduced in years to come by organic textile plant implementation.

One of the main focuses of the CEO Summit outside of the CEO’s sharing the latest news and trends in the industry was to include the press in the discussions of these topics so they could be shared with consumers. Janow stated to the press that, “you are our voice and you are the voice of the consumer and what they want.”

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