An appearance by a maker of organic yogurt—Gary Hirshberg, the president of Stonyfield Farm—kicked off the first of three days of the annual FamilyFarmed Expo, now in its sixth year. FamilyFarmed follows the usual mantra of local and organic—its mission, the program reads, is to “expand the production, marketing, and distribution of locally grown and responsibly produced food”—and Hirshberg, whose business is decidedly not local any longer, was there as sort of aspirational figure. Stonyfield, ubiquitous in natural foods stores, is the world’s largest organic yogurt manufacturer.
That the organic business is big business isn’t news, of course, but Hirshberg still betrayed hints of incredulity when he compared his roots as a humble yogurteer with the current state of the organics industry—a $24.8 billion sector, he said, but nonetheless one that only makes up about four percent of the U.S. food market.
Hirshberg said he’d recently been to a trade show for natural products that in years past drew an audience of more traditionally—well—organic entrepreneurs. “Now there’s tons of suits,” he said, “and it’s mostly money people,” there to find ways to grow the industry. “I sit on about eight different company boards,” Hirshberg enthused—one of which, Honest Tea, “just did a deal with Coke.”