Convenience is a major strategic advantage most fruits and many vegetables have in the daily share of stomach competion.  Surely, it does not get any more convenient than being able to

  • peel a ripe banana and eat the fruit there and then?
  • take a ripe tomato from the fruit bowl and slice into into  a salad?
  • pick ripe grapes from the bunch and let them just about dissolve on your tongue?

I could work  here through quite a list of fruits and vegetables, but  I am sure you get the picture.  In an age where convenience is king, fruits and vegetables have an enviable starting position.  

For the fruit & vegetables trade, this position comes with a fair amount of responsibilities.  Because the consumer knows that it is possible to eat bananas straight from the skin and tomatoes straight from the vine, she has the expectation of actually being able to do. Everytime she feels like it. Without exception.  This means, of course, that the product needs to be in the appropriate state - RIPE - for this consumer expectation to be fulfilled.

As we know, bananas do not get harvested ripe.  They get shipped across great distances and are ripened in their boxes, just before they are being sold to the retail trade. Real ripe tomatoes would be difficult to ship and would make an almighty mess in transit if we took it the vine ripening concept literally. Convenience therefore has to be balanced against practical limitations and what is realistically possible.

This ability to consume fruit at a moment's notice has been a strategic driver for the fresh produce industry for many years and this will not change but only intensify.

The critical link relates to the time  we are prepared to spend in the kitchen. It is getting less.  Much less.  The things we want to do in the kitchen though are getting more complex.  Much more. We have cook books coming out our ears, popular fruits and vegetables are available all year around, every second TV programme seems to be a cooking show, and phenomena like the slow food movement encorurage us to create meals with an increased complexity...yet, our lifes are getting busier rather than the other way around. The fruits and vegetables trade is therefore constantly searching for more innovative ways to present consumers with convenience options.  

That in turn has consequences for the way produce is grown, managed post-harvest, processed, packaged, shipped and sold


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