A timeworn expression is the saying that a rising tide lifts all boats.

American consumers could use a high tide about now.

U.S. government statistics reveal that in 2012 the economy basically stood still. Median household income in the U.S. in 2012 was $51,017, not different in real terms from the 2011 median of $51,100.

This flat-line performance was somewhat of an improvement, however, after two consecutive annual declines in median income. The poverty rate in the U.S. was 15% in 2012, which translates to about 46.5 million people below the poverty line.

With the economy for the past few years showing only faltering strength, fresh produce consumption levels have been fairly flat.

While the latest United Fresh retail FreshFacts report showed overall fresh produce sales were up 3.7% for the second quarter of 2013, the downside was that volume dipped by 2.3%.

Higher average fresh produce prices — at 6.2% above year-ago levels — helped buoy retail sales.

But until that long-sought rising tide of a vibrant economy arrives, it is more important than ever for fresh produce marketers to provide commodities and value-added items that satisfy consumer demands for taste, health benefits and convenience.

Per-capita trends show some winners in the past decade include raspberries, blueberries, avocados, cherries, sweet potatoes and pineapples.

In this economy, the industry must row a little harder to keep ahead.

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