Close this search box.

Ag and finance investor to share ‘exciting’ global opportunities at Australian Organic Conference

Australian Organic Limited has secured powerhouse global business innovator Robyn O’Brien as keynote speaker for its March 2024 conference in Melbourne, where she will speak to the conference theme of ‘Our Future: Growing Together’.

Designed with the aim of unifying Australia’s certified organic industry, the two-day event will focus on three key pillars – business growth, the environment, and people and animals – and cover topics such as profitable production systems, proactive management, how to upscale a business, and global organic trends.

Ms O’Brien, who made the Forbes Impact 50 list of the most notable investors for her work at the intersection of agriculture and climate, founded financial services companies Sirona Ventures and rePlant Capital, which scale ag and climate solutions. She is currently a partner at impact investing platform Montcalm Capital.

In 2009 she turned American agriculture on its head when she published her book ‘The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It.’

Her next publication, ‘Seeding Innovation, the Path to Profit and Purpose in the 21st Century’, is due for release in April 2024.

A dual US-New Zealand citizen, Ms O’Brien says she’s very familiar with the challenges facing a robust, diverse organic sector in Australia and New Zealand, and believes the answer lies in innovators, investors and farmers collaborating to build a smarter food system.

“I think what’s important for the conference audience to hear is how fast the market is growing in the US. 80% of consumers in the US are buying something organic, 75% of all grocery store categories carry something organic, but only 1% of our supply chain is organic,” Ms O’Brien said.

“So how do we engage investors in this? What role is the consumer playing? And what role are the retailers and farmers playing? Because it’s in collaborating that you actually build something that works for everybody.

“This is about how we responsibly steward these assets and natural resources and leverage 21st century technology in a way that enables us to do things we’ve never been able to do before. And that’s where I think it gets really exciting.”

Ms O’Brien says each country has its own unique challenges in building a smarter food system.

“The US has a problem in that our farming population is ageing out really, really quickly, and we don’t have young people coming in, so that’s a branding opportunity,” she said.

“How do we actually reposition farming as this incredibly important role in society today, and make sure that the economics of farming are attractive enough that a 26 year old actually wants to do it?

“All of these issues invite a lot of collaboration to find solutions, because in the end we all want better food. There’s not a family anywhere that doesn’t want better, safer food.”

Robyn O’Brien will speak on Day 1 of the Australian Organic Conference on Thursday, March 7, while Day 2 includes an International Women’s Day High Tea where attendees can hear from inspirational women innovators in ag.

President of the National Farmers’ Federation, David Jochinke, regenerative agriculture expert Dr. Allen Williams, and a host of other local and international experts will speak at the event.

The conference schedule will culminate on Friday, March 8 with a gala dinner and the announcement of the Australian Organic Industry Awards, showcasing the products, individuals, brands and businesses that are moving the certified organic sector forward.

The Australian Organic Conference will be held at Pullman Melbourne on the Park on 7-8 March.