Mr. Charles Sweat
President and CEO of Earthbound Farms (EBF)
– Charles Sweat, President and CEO, Earthbound Farm
The Agribusiness Challenge: Scaling Your Business, Food Safety, Organic Farming, and Attracting & Retaining Talent
Mr. Charles Sweat, the President and CEO of Earthbound Farms (EBF) explained how his company became a world-renowned organic powerhouse. Earthbound Farms started from humble beginnings with a 2 acre family-owned farm and became America’s largest producer of organic food with $500 million in sales per year.
Sweat added that the company is nationally recognized for its unparalleled food safety system, but building a great brand reputation is not always smooth. In 2006, EBF was shaken by a major food safety crisis when conventional baby spinach it had co-packed for Dole was associated with an outbreak of E. coli disease. EBF made several significant changes to its procurement and processing procedures to minimize any future risk of food borne pathogens in its products. Through these challenges and changes, the company was able to win back customer trust and grow as improved safety systems were implemented.
In addition, Sweat shared his wisdom around topics such as product and technology innovation highlighting the development of new clamshell packaging that revolutionized how consumers bought packaged lettuce and the development of a new harvester that was developed specifically for organic farming techniques.