OPN Connect Newsletter 228 · July 29, 2021

The Growth of CEA—What’s Real and What’s Hype from a Retailer/Consumer Perspective

The flourishing development of Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) and how retailers and consumers view this emerging segment of fresh produce production will be the topic of an educational session at Organic Produce Summit 2021. The Growth of CEA—What’s Real and What’s Hype from a Retail and Consumer Perspective will feature three produce industry leaders offering their insight on how indoor-grown fresh produce items come to market, CEA pricing and marketing challenges, and the consumer response to indoor-grown products.

Walter Robb, former Co-CEO of Whole Foods

Stemilt September 2021

Moderated by Walter Robb, former co-CEO of Whole Foods, the session is the second of a two-part educational series at OPS and offers a retailer and consumer perspective on the rise of indoor growing. Topics to be discussed in the session include the impact of indoor-grown products on the supply chain, the messaging and labeling of these products, and how CEA is changing the face of the organic fresh produce industry. 

Panelists for the session include Frances Dillard, vice president of brand and product marketing, Driscoll’s; Victor Savanello, vice president of produce and floral, Spartan Nash; and Shawn Peery, vice president of produce and floral, Albertsons.


Frances Dillard, Victor Savanello, Shawn Peery

Organics Unlimited September 2021

CEA production of fresh produce has become a $100 billion-plus industry, showcasing how growing indoors uses less water and no pesticides while incorporating innovative and efficient technologies to provide fresher produce to consumers. “CEA is changing the landscape of food production and providing consumers a variety of new items that will continue to evolve in the years ahead,” said Susan Canales, president of Organic Produce Summit. “OPS attendees will have the chance to hear from retail leadership on how these products are marketed and learn about the challenges and opportunities these new items offer consumers.”

This second educational workshop follows a session exploring the growth of CEA with leaders actively involved in the production of indoor growing. The panelists for the first session include Philip Karp, president, Shenandoah Growers; Marc Oshima, co-founder, AeroFarms; and Caitlin Tierney, director of business development, Mastronardi Produce.

“Indoor agriculture is increasingly playing a more meaningful role in our fresh produce supply in terms of volume, variety, and geographical footprint,” said Walter Robb. “The ability of indoor ag to provide predictability and resiliency for supply, coupled with its lower impact on both the environment and resource use, is drawing substantial interest from both investors and consumers. Clearly, the future will be a hybrid one, and our panels will explore how quickly and responsibly this will happen.” 

Red Sun Farms September 2021

Organic Produce Summit 2021 is a live and in-person two-day event specifically designed to bring together organic fresh produce growers, shippers, and processors with retailers and buying organizations from across North America. Over 1,000 attendees will meet September 15-16 in Monterey, CA to exchange ideas, information, and insights into the organic fresh produce industry.    

In addition to the educational sessions focused on CEA, a session looking at the organic industry in a post-COVID environment and a keynote presentation by Jim Donald, co-chairman of Albertsons, have also been announced. OPS 2021 also includes a selection of field tours for retailers and buyers, a gala opening night reception, and a sold-out trade show floor featuring over 150 producers and processors of organic fresh produce from across North America and the globe.

Register to attend OPS 2021 by visiting

Starr Ranch September 2021

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