How to Succeed in Food & Beverage: 5 Takeaways from Farm to Label 2016

In its fourth year, Farm to Label is a one-day summit in Portland, OR that invites startups, investors and corporate giants to talk about the latest trends, opportunities and hurdles in the food and beverage business. Law firm Davis Wright Tremaine hosted the event in partnership with a small group of sponsors like KO. We were thrilled that our pro bono client, Zenger Farm, was also chosen as the philanthropic partner for the event.

Attendees were called to “Inform Your Instinct.” The gist of the message: Success in Food and Beverage may start with your gut instinct, but it is sustained through measurement, operational rigor and rational analysis. The inspiring and invigorating opening keynote by William Rosenzweig, Dean and Executive Director of the Food Business School, established the focus of the day: Work with liked-minded partners on meaningful problems to build a food business for long-term success.

What Successful Companies Are Doing

We’ve distilled key takeaways and hope you find them useful:

  1. According to featured Guest Alexia Howard, U.S. Food Analyst for AB Bernstein, food is still the most fragmented consumer packaged good, but tremendous value is being generated through continued consolidation. Multinational conglomerates are snapping up natural and organic brands, but then they’re leaving them alone. Justin Gold who recently sold specialty nut butter Justin’s to Hormel has been quoted saying, “We did not sell out, they bought in.”
  2. Consumers far and wide are seeking healthier options and food safety. Our Managing Partner Craig Ostbo moderated a conversation with Former U.S. Ambassador to China Governor Gary Locke; Director of International Sales for Bob’s Red Mill, Jan Chernus; and President & Owner of Firestone Pacific Foods, Stan Firestone, about Borderless Marketing in Asia, where consumers hunger for high-quality foods grown and processed in the U.S. This topic is so meaty, we have been covering it as a series starting with this post. Stay tuned for the next installment soon.
  3. Consumers are also seeking values-alignment. I was honored to join a panel about Food as a Change Agent for Community Good with Donna Duncanson, SVP, The Hartman Group; Genevieve Martin, Executive Director, Dave’s Killer Bread (DKB) Foundation; and Wood Turner, Vice President, ACM. Companies that are approachable, transparent and authentic in their pursuit of making a difference are succeeding in developing loyal relationships with a growing consumer base, led by millennials, that wants to make purchases that are not only healthy, but also reflect their values.
  4. Embrace science and technology. From cannabis edibles brands like Zoots and Messina Bitters, whose products rely on highly scientific formulations for consistency and safety, to The Bread Lab, which seeks to create better tasting and healthier kinds of wheat, science and technology are driving fascinating growth opportunities in food.
  5. Listening meets massive online conversations. Underlying all of these themes is the power of the consumer. Consumers are loyal to brands they believe in. Successful brands are listening to consumers. They do this by connecting in meaningful ways and getting know them on a personal level, but also by using technology and data to wade through the massive online conversations and informing their instincts.


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700 thoughts on “How to Succeed in Food & Beverage: 5 Takeaways from Farm to Label 2016

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