Alltech’s annual conference in Lexington has a record 3,000 attendees from 71 countries, but the Nicholasville-based agribusiness giant wants more Kentuckians there. So it is selling a $75 day pass Tuesday to boost attendance.
The pass includes admission to all of the day’s events, including afternoon speeches by Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak and Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell. (One.alltech.com, register with code ONEDAY.)
Admission also includes a half-hour tour through One Vision, a 10,000-square-foot interactive multimedia exhibit Alltech put together for the conference to spread its business vision of environmentally sustainable agriculture to feed a growing planet.
It is a pretty slick show for a temporary exhibit. One Vision is built around video monologues by six characters — including a shrimp farmer, a dairy farmer, a consumer and an Alltech researcher — to tell how the company is working to develop new food-production technology that increases yield and is better for the environment.
Privately held Alltech, which founder Pearse Lyons started in his suburban Lexington garage in 1980, is approaching $2 billion in annual sales and plans to be at $4 billion in a few years through growth and aggressive acquisitions. It does business in about 125 countries. Lyons and his team have succeeded because they are good researchers and marketers. It also doesn’t hurt that the company makes a lot of good beer and distilled spirits.
But perhaps more than anything, Alltech seems to have found a sweet spot for capitalism between scientific research and environmental responsibility.
The company’s main business is all-natural agriculture nutrition products. One Vision is a summary of Alltech’s vision for an agribusiness future without animal antibiotics, artificial growth hormones, herbicides and pesticides. And a future that accepts and adapts to the realities and threats of climate change.
One Vision is divided into three sections — land, air and water — and portrays an optimistic “one fine day” vision of how a planet of 9 billion people in the year 2050 is being fed sustainably. That includes such things as urban agriculture, large-scale aquaculture and replacing fossil fuels with renewable sources, including bio-fuels produced from farm animal waste.
While much of Alltech’s One conference is for agribusiness geeks, the One Vision show offers an optimistic scenario anyone can appreciate: more and better food along with cleaner air, water and land. Plus, it is great to see a Kentucky corporate giant that embraces innovation rather than trying to cling to the past.