This week Taylor Farms partnered with Forbes at the third annual Forbes AgTech Summit in the heart of the Salinas Valley — right outside of our headquarters! This event brought together pioneers in global agriculture and leaders from Silicon Valley to discuss critical challenges and opportunities in the world of agricultural technology.
The summit kicked off on Wednesday, June 28 with tours of state-of-the art processing plants, to hands-on demonstrations of cutting-edge in-field technologies. The two full days featured a series of energetic debates while showcasing the latest agricultural innovations to an estimated 700 registered participants.
Taylor Farms hosted a tour of our fresh cut vegetable processing facility in Gonzales, CA. Attendees were given a “behind the scenes” look at how our team is able to wash, cut, and package over 4 million pounds of fresh produce each week. Tour guests also learned about Taylor Farms’ sustainability efforts, specifically the unique energy ecosystem at Taylor Farms Gonzales, that utilizes solar panels, a wind turbine, and cogeneration system to power more than 90% of the plants needs with renewable and alternative energy.
On Thursday morning, Bruce Taylor, Chairman and CEO, Taylor Farms, spoke on a panel called, “Retail Disruption: Changing Path to the Consumer.” Joining Bruce on the panel were Heather Shavey, Assistant Vice President & General Merchandising Manager, Costco Wholesale and Mike Teel, Owner & Chief Executive Officer, Raley’s. The panel was moderated by Maggie McGrath, Staff Writer, Forbes Media.
During the panel, Bruce addressed the changing food preferences and shopping habits of today’s consumer. “Consumers want convenience which drives complexity when producing products. Grocery store chains have gone from having eight packaged ‘assembly required’ produce products, to 200+ products — with most now being premade and ready-to-eat,” he shared.
In addition, Bruce touched on consumer’s desire for transparency in food supply and how traditionally, a well-known brand equalled trust. “Today’s consumers want to understand the real story behind a brand, and that story needs to be authentic and transparent,” he noted.
In conjunction with the summit, THRIVE Demo Day took place on Wednesday, providing the 10 startup finalists the opportunity to present their work to investors, partners, and media. Of the 10, three were chosen to receive special recognition during the Forbes AgTech Summit on Wednesday afternoon, with one winner for each category:
Innovation: Tortuga Agricultural Technologies from Denver, Colorado is an automated greenhouse production system improves freshness, shortens the supply chain, and enables better genetics, while reducing chemical and water use.
Sustainability: MicroGen Biotech from Carlow, Ireland applies constructed functional microbiome technology to increase crop yield and health while protecting food safety by remediating pollutants and improving soil fertility.
Operational Excellence: AgroSmart from Campinas, Brazil connects farmers to a management system that monitors irrigation and other farming decisions with sensors, satellite imaging and weather forecast.
The awards were based on four different criteria, including; mentor feedback, due diligence, accelerator engagement, and quality of pitches on THRIVE Demo Day.
The bottom line of this event was perfectly summed up by Paul Noglows, executive producer of the Forbes summit, “Feeding the world is why we’re all out here.”