Amarjit Sahota: visionary of worldwide organic development
by Kai Kreuzer (comments: 0)
Fifteen years ago the now 44-year-old Sahota founded a management consultancy in London. Nobody suspected at that time what the little firm called Organic Monitor would one day become. Now this modest Englishman of Indian descent and his exceptionally dedicated team organize a large number of congresses all over the world. Lectures and discussions focus on the question of the future development of the food market and on the natural cosmetics, detergent and cleaning materials sectors.
Highly professional, personable and very sociable, Amarjit Sahota has become one of the most sought-after discussion and conversation partners in the industry. He not only commands a profound knowledge of facts and figures but is also an invaluable mastermind in the international food and cosmetics sector regarding sustainability.
“In 2001 I started the firm in my bedroom. A short time later I’d got one employee and she was soon joined by others. Now we’ve got over 20 staff and representatives in London, North and South America and Asia.“ Today, international congresses organized by Organic Monitor are held in Amsterdam, Paris, San Francisco, New York, Hong Kong, Singapore and Sao Paolo.
In all cases, prior to the conferences, they publish a precisely defined set of questions regarding the current state of development, trends and future prospects. On these occasions, around 25 to 30 prestigious speakers from successful manufacturing firms, consultants and representatives of NGOs deliver their presentations. Together with biographical details, these are stored on a USB stick made of wood – very environmentally friendly – that each participant receives with a conference pack on registration. The congresses, that are always held in the best hotels in the conference venues, are organized to perfection. As well as hearing a large number of speakers, attendees have ample opportunity to get to know new contacts in the breaks.
All enterprises that regard sustainability as important are invited
Whereas in Germany it is usually only representatives of one hundred percent eco firms who are invited to congresses and conferences, at Organic Monitor’s congresses you find an exciting mix not only of speakers but of the public as well. Above all, they also invite those companies from the conventional sector that are seriously thinking about changing course in the direction of sustainability. In this intersection of ecological and conventional firms lies the potential of both groups for further development in the future.
At these summits, as the events are called, the whole spectrum of issues is addressed ranging from technical questions and problems of implementation to the marketing of sustainable solutions. Amarjit Sahota’s conviction: “Anybody who thinks he’s already found the philosopher’s stone is mistaken. Only when you confront issues and compete for the best ideas do you arrive at future-oriented developments that benefit all customers.” Whereas specialist firms target a narrow segment of about 20 % of consumers, the big manufacturers in the conventional retail food trade serve a much more substantial clientele that should not be ignored when supplying organically products.
Of course, the transitions between committed steps towards being more environmentally friendly and socially responsible in the procurement of raw materials and in production are a wide area that offers plenty of scope for untrustworthy firms and pseudo business strategies. However, what we have to do is identify these marketing variants for what they are and draw a clear line between them and us. Animated discussion across all borders between countries, continents and corporate affiliation are characteristic of Organic Monitor conferences. They don’t always reach a consensus but the different standpoints can be worked out clearly and then they may be taken up again and pursued further at later events. For example, palm oil and its cultivation in developing countries is a controversial issue for which no ideal solution has yet been found. At any rate, it means the two-and-a-half-day events are always packed full with information, impressions and making contacts. The morning and afternoon breaks, sitting round a table at lunchtime or at Organic Monitor’s evening reception are often great opportunities to make new contacts.
Always the latest topics
While the conferences address the usual classic themes like marketing, procurement of raw materials or brand policy, they also deal, of course, with the latest ideas and problems. For example, at the upcoming Sustainable Food Summit on 9 and 10 June 2016 in Amsterdam one of the topic groups (6 presentations) is devoted to the issue of food waste. “How high are losses in production, transport and retail? In what ways can companies minimize losses? What answers are provided by new kinds of packaging? What do the consumers want and how can they be encouraged to get involved?
Whenever it’s possible Organic Monitor congresses are held to coincide with or to follow theme-related trade fairs. Last autumn, the Sustainable Cosmetics Summit and the Sustainable Cleaning Products Summit took place in Paris immediately after Natexpo. In Amsterdam their event ran parallel to the Free-From expo (www.freefromfoodexpo.com/) so that you were at least able to call in at the trade fair.
What do the congress attendees say?
“About ten years ago, Amarjit Sahota and Tina Gill were the first people to enter the market with international market research studies for our sector,” says Erk Schuchhardt, the managing director at Davert. “With huge commitment and effort they have both promoted this sector and specialist international conferences. As well a good selection of themes, well chosen speakers and good organization, networking and getting to know the perspectives of other industry leaders have been important for me at these events.” For Klara Ahlers from Lavera too the organizer of the international conferences has delivered only positive experiences. “What I automatically associate with Amarjit Sahota are international data surveys that for over 15 years have been providing an important overview of the market development for organic and natural cosmetics. Amarjit Sahota specialized at an early stage in the sustainability sector and he accomplished thorough analyses that played an important role as we moved to internationalize the Lavera brand.”
On Amarjit Sahota
Amarjit was born in 1971 in London. In 1994, he obtained a degree in applied chemistry at Brunel University in Great Britain. His studies enabled him to judge for the first time the environmental damage caused by the chemical industry and related industries. After working for a brief time he decided to study for a master’s degree in marketing at the University of Surrey. He also obtained a postgraduate diploma in marketing at the University of West London. A large gap was left by the sudden death in March 2015 of Tina Gill, his life and business partner of 16 years.
How the Cosmetics Industry is greening up, 2014, 362 pages, Hardcover.
Sustainable Foods Summit
9 -10 June 2016 in Amsterdam
29 -30 June 2016 in Sao Paolo
23-25 January in San Francisco
Sustainable Cosmetics Summit
14 -16 September 2016 in Sao Paolo
24 -26 October 2016 in Paris
14-15. November in Hong Kong
Sustainable Cleaning Products Summit
26 -27 October 2016 in Paris
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