NOPEX 2024 Speaker Spotlight: Ed Ayton

In our Speaker Spotlight series, get to know our speakers before you see them. Find out what trends Ed Ayton – Sustainability and Ethics Advisor of Abel & Cole, predicts this year, who they admire in the industry, and why you should attend their session at Natural & Organic Products Expo this April.

What one person or business in the natural & organic industry do you really admire and why?

David and Wilma Finlay from the Ethical Dairy. From animal welfare, to soil health, to becoming carbon-negative, to producing a great product, they’ve spared no effort in doing everything as mindfully and sustainably as possible, but have also shown that their approach can be profitable. Truly resistant and resilient.

What do you see as key trends for natural & organic in the coming year?

A focus on the link between soil biodiversity and nutrient density, and with it hopefully a renewed focus on fruit and veg. I also see demand for gourmet and functional mushrooms continuing to grow, as with refillable options for organic pantry products.

Can you give us an example of what your business is doing to become even more sustainable

Continually scrutinising our product’s packaging to ensure it’s the most suitable for our service. For example, given the lack of kerbside collection and potential for contaminating recycling, we’ve removed compostable plastics from our range. Now our focus is turning to multi-layer and foiled packaging, working with our suppliers to find widely-recyclable alternatives.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your role and the most challenging?

The most rewarding part of my role is supporting our agroecological farmers, either through marketing, experience with projects like B Corp or Sedex, or renewing our sourcing policies to ensure they’re fit for purpose.

How important is Natural & Organic Products Expo trade show to the you/industry?

It’s incredibly important to the industry. Buyers get a peek at NPD, senior teams see a thriving market, the public sees a growing movement.

Why should visitors attend your session at the show?

There’s obviously a clear and urgent need for net zero, but there’s a growing belief that there is more to the story, and a growing risk from this carbon tunnel vision to the natural cycles and biodiversity that will actually get us there.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given. 

If you’re first response to something, whether it’s a project, an invitation, or a menu option, wasn’t ‘hell yeah’, then it’s a no.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself that most people don’t know:

I get surprised reactions when people find out I’m Australian.

See Ed Ayton alongside Lee Holdstock and Charles Redfern in the panel session ‘ Net Zero and Beyond ’ at 16.00 – 16.30 on Sunday 14 April.  Register for a trade ticket here.