Our spinning world continues to grow more and more complex.
Rapid advances in technology, the continued enhancement of Internet-based marketing, and the democratization of information are just some of the forces that ushered in a brand new world for our business.
Keeping pace with a changing market and an evolving consumer requires a new perspective, one that reaches beyond what we’ve always known and done.
If you are still asking the same questions you asked last year, you’re already behind.
The future has arrived at your doorstep … were you surprised?
Our industry must plant the seeds of new ideas and fuel the innovations and growth that will carry us forward.
The complexity of our supply chain, the sophistication of our consumer and the amplified challenges at the farm all make for hard questions and even harder answers.
Ensuring our future profitability as individual businesses and as an industry requires a fresh outlook in the traditional areas of supply, consumption and marketing.
The first area to consider must be the changing nature of our supply chain.
We have evolved into more of a supply web than a chain, as new industry segments have emerged and old ones are redefined.
We’re now operating in the world of Supply Chain 2.0, a supply chain that begins and ends with the most sophisticated and connected consumer the world has ever seen.
The questions we ask and the answers we find must incorporate this new dynamic in our chain and in our relationships. In this new supply chain we are defined as much by what we know as by who we know.
What we know plays a progressively more important role as we work toward our shared goal of increasing consumption.
We know research from Mintel Menu Insights, PMA and others demonstrates the beginning of major shifts in demand for fresh produce on menus.
We know healthy diets including fruits and vegetables are being promoted at the highest level of government and in public and private partnerships.
Our industry’s collective and shared efforts on such important ventures as Foodservice 2020 showcase what we can do together.
Yet we’ve barely scratched the surface of affecting consumption. It is essential that we strive for even fresher perspectives on how to draw consumers and promote the flavor and health attributes of our products.
Go where they are
One of the freshest new links to consumers is via social media. There is a revolution taking place all around us — a revolution affecting our ability to connect with consumers.
We are now in the world of Consumer 2.0, the digital native, the first generation of consumers truly different from their parents.
Every single one of us needs to change because our customers and our consumers are changing. The digital native is already altering the landscape by contributing to the rise in single-person households.
In the U.S. alone this market is 90 million strong. They are the most sophisticated, connected consumer our supply chain has ever seen.
So the challenge here isn’t in the why, it’s the how.
Though traditional marketing rules have changed forever with the introduction of social media, the tools are not as complex as they seem.
Yet very few of us are in this space. Ask yourself ... how many consumers and operators have I “friended” lately?
Then, start where you always have — with your business plan.
Social media is an exciting, interactive, engaging delivery vehicle, but no one ever starts a marketing campaign by choosing the delivery vehicle first.
Every new season brings new questions and unique answers.
While it may be intimidating, our industry has always risen to a challenge.
Now is the time to expand your boundaries, to discard those traditions that inhibit your search for new ideas and innovation and protect those that define who you are.
Now is the time to grow.
Bryan Silbermann is president and chief executive officer of the Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del.
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