Threats are plentiful for the Fruit Trade, starting with disease, climate conditions, environmental factors and health related issues.
Three disease examples come to mind straight away. Bananas are in danger of being wiped out by Black Sygatoka. The kiwfruit industry is being severely hit by the vine disease PSA and the potato industry struggles with the Potato Psyllid.
The changing weather patterns around the globe on one hand call in doubt whether the Australian state of Queensland is really the right place to grow tropical fruit, whilst Southern England has started to develop a table wine industry!
What will happen to fruit pollination if the bees keep on dying? And every year we get to see graphic examples that people can actually die from eating contaminated produce.
Then there are increasing oil prices, retail consolidation and global supply chains.
At least one shipping line instructed its captains last year to reduce steaming speed in order to reduce the bunker oil costs. The net consequence was that shipments of South American fruit took an extra week to reach HongKong. That might work for bottled water exports but causes chaos for the fruits & vegetables trade.
80% of the world's food retail business is being written by a dozen or so global conglomerates. In order to cope with their needs and demands, their trading partners tend to grow and consolidate as well. That's fine but the larger a business, the less flexible it typically becomes - and flexibility is everything in the fresh fruits & vegetable trade.
Global supply chains are a blessing in disguise as well. Yes, they ensure that a consumer in a developed world country can buy strawberries all year around, regardless of the season or weather conditions at the point of purchase. But in order to manage the sourcing process, significant resources are needed to get it right. Where does that leave the local regional trader who is very good at managing the flow of berryfruit in a regional jurisdiction but totally challenged by having to manage the relationship with a national customer?
Threats also include the emergence of chemical substances such as SmartFresh, enabling shelf life extension beyond the typical seasonal boundaries and urban spread which means valuable growing soils are often lost forever to housing developments.
Depending upon one's point of view, one could also argue that the increasing demand for organically grown produce challenges the Fruit Trade as we know it today and in some quarters the realignment of trading routes, for example, China becoming a major export focused producer, is seen as a threat to their trade interests.
One of the critical threats to the Fruit Trade from my perspective is the possibility that we will not achieve the successful transition to sustainable horticultural production that we must.