How the Plant Based World Conference Foretold a Trend

Author: Casey Gale       

plant based food

The Plant Based World Conference & Expo is the official trade show of the Plant Based Foods Association.

The trend toward plant-based diets has made headlines recently, and not just because of Impossible Burger shortages this past summer at fast-food outlets due to high demand. Plant Based World Conference & Expo, however, seems to have been a bit ahead of the curve. The idea for the conference, produced by JD Events, was floated two years ago to leverage the growth of the plant-based market as part of sustainability efforts, said Chris Nemchek, general manager of the conference that launched June 7-8, 2019, at the Javits Center in New York City.

What It’s All About

The inaugural event welcomed 3,737 attendees, including professionals from retail, specialty restaurant and food service, health care, and distributors and 125 exhibitors representing F&B, apparel, cosmetics, and other sectors. The expo also attracted everyday consumers, including vegans and “flexitarians,” people who eat a primarily plant-based diet with animal products in moderation.

Those looking to learn more about a plant-based lifestyle could attend sessions in a “Community Track,” in which doctors, athletes, musicians, activists, politicians, and others were “able to share their perspective on how incorporating more plants into our diet and lifestyle benefits ourselves and the world we share,” said Nemchek, whose replies to Convene’s questions were sent in green font via email. Sessions in this track included “Hip Hop Is Green: Bringing Health and Wellness to Urban Communities,” led by Keith Tucker, founder of Hip Hop Is Green, an organization that provides health and wellness programs to the underserved.

Plant Based World Conference & Expo

Connecting with buyers from the mainstream food retail space is a selling point of the conference.

Why We Like It

With the event touching on sustainability issues, Nemchek made sure to follow through on that in its execution, and the host venue was key. The Javits Center has made inroads in sustainability over the last few years, including a seven-acre green roof that reduces heat gain through the building and collects up to seven million gallons of storm water run-off annually. “We are fortunate to be in a venue that takes sustainability seriously,” Nemchek said, “and has many initiatives to save energy and reduce waste.” Plant Based World Conference & Expo will return to the Javits Center next year.

Additionally, attendees and exhibitors alike put their greenest foot forward during the event. “We encouraged our attendees to bring reusable water bottles, recycle badges, use our mobile app, and take public transportation,” Nemchek said. Exhibitors also were urged to use compostable sampling containers and were given the option of donating unused food to City Harvest, a New York City–based nonprofit that claims to have helped ignite the food rescue movement in 1982. That effort helped, he said, “to get food from the show to those in need.”

Learn more about Plant Based World Conference & Expo.

Casey Gale is an associate editor at Convene.

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