The opportunities for the fruits & vegetables trade can be summarised into three categories - product, process, paradigm shift.
Someone, somewhere, is always working on product innovation, be that plant breeding, new variety development, disease resistance trials, maturing cycles, robustness and shelf life and so on. Typically, that happens at the starting point of the value chain. It is quite uncommon for retailers, for example, to take too detailed an interest in that, other than shelf life. They are more interested in the results - and sooner rather than later please. Yesterday would be good, thank you.
The fruits & vegetables trades are more likely to concern themselves with opportunities such as shelf life extension, new packaging options, additional convenience propositions, merchandising innovations, logistics improvements and the like.
All of these points identified are very valid and I will develop these here as seperate pages over time, so check back now and again - but ultimately all these opportunties are incremental in nature... and we have to get smarter than that!
That is where paradigm shift comes into play. Selling more commodity produce for marginal prices will do nothing for the long-term future of the Fruit Trade. We need to start thinking outside of the square.
The principles behind the functional food evolution would be one example. Another avenue to pursue, albeit in a more structured and thought through manner than has been the case until now, is the different fruits & vegetables can be put to. Yes, I know the ethanol from maize story has plenty of negative aspects - but we need to learn from those opportunities and move forward.
The developed world's mind set with regards to health has shifted from addressing illness when it occurs to encouraging and striving for wellness. This fundamental change in thinking has opportunities for the fruits & vegetables trade - not just from the perspective of being able to add to the depth of the communciation portfolio but more importantly in opening new market channels.
The amount of time we are able or willing to spend in the kitchen on meal preparation duties during our busy working weeks is reducing at a rapid pace of knots. Sure, the slow cooking movement is gaining traction and cooking shows are a dime a dozen on our TV screens but when we do we have time for that?
Twenty years ago the bagged salads category did not exist. If you wanted to eat a salad with your meal, you started by buying a head of lettuce. Just go down to your local supermarket and looked at the lettuce/salad category display today.