A simple question: ‘What will be the biggest produce industry trend in the next five years?”

I recently posed this straightforward question to the LinkedIn Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group, and I was pleased with the breadth and depth of the answers from the members.

Of course, there is no one answer fits all  - as in “local food” - and that’s the beauty of throwing it out to a group of thoughtful industry professionals.

The more I am around this group, the more I think it is a type of “swarm intelligence.” The sum (we are fast counting down to 2,000 members) is certainly greater than this part.

There are 19 responses so far to my question. My words can’t do justice to the thoughts expressed, so here are a few excerpts:

 

I  believe collaboration and Social Media.
 
I  would say interest in heritage varieties and increased prominence of growers.
 
 Premium seeking ventures too with more soft and exotic fruits, along with more packaging innovations to reduce waste and in-home prep.
 
 Increasing awareness about environment and climate change.
 
The contribution which fresh produce has to the diet. The latest from the States changes from 5-a-day to proportion of the plate (fruit and veg should represent 50% of food intake!)
 
Flavor. That continues to be our major opportunity to deliver superior consumer satisfaction. Particularly excellent flavor delivered consistently during different seasons and from different varieties.
 
I'd say ethically and locally produced goods, I see a trend of people wanting to know more about where their food comes from.
I would think local trade will increase favoring local "backyard" veggies, I keep hearing permaculture more and more among people and even though right now sounds "very alternative" and "hippie thinking" I can see it being more "mainstream" in five years time
 
On the manufacturing & production side, I would think food safety is going to remain a prominent issue with moves towards standardized sanitation practices, inspection, and even regulation to help maintain and grow public confidence in the fresh product supply chain.

I hate to say it, but more packaging to replace labor in the produce department. Products which can adapt to the can stacker center store model will increasingly displace products which can't. Look at the growth in grocery sales at dollar stores and limited assortment stores. (per annual reports, Dollar General sells more groceries than Whole Foods) Stare at a coin operated vending machine and visualize it as the grocery store of the future.
 
Flavor and health will continue to grow the berry share of the fresh produce category; blackberries share of berries will grow; blueberries will be predominantly machine harvested and selected for fresh produce market, an advantage more difficult to achieve with strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.
 
Personally, I hope flavor initiatives take hold to ensure consumers have a great-tasting experience with every bite. On the social side (and it's happening already), expanded use of QR codes to connect with shoppers at point-of-sale

Sustainable growing practices along with sustainable packaging. Responsible growers/shippers and retailers partnering with their customers in a collaborative effort to reduce packaging and to increase awareness of the process from the supply side and to ensure suppliers understand the consumer side of the issue.
 
Truck Shortages due to DOT (Govt.) regulations
 
Individual / Home hydroponics. Consumers will take control of growing lettuces and vegetables in their own homes. More commercial Greenhouses supporting communities

TK: I would like more responses from readers to this discussion thread. What are we missing? Call your shot and tell the group.