As humans, we are far from immune to a good paradox. In fact, I think we might just love it.
Our ability to carry opposites is what makes us human, and the fresh produce industry is wonderfully (and woefully) made of many of these. Today, the inconsistency and mystery that has relentlessly stuck in my craw—and one that I continue to hear about from many of our friends—is how our industry can both pride itself on its relationship-driven and community-oriented philosophy of business and, at the same time, be moving toward a more transactional, even clinical, business style.
Whether this is at the price-negotiating table at retail between buying groups and suppliers or with requests for proposals, we hold a very complicated paradox with who we are and who we want to be. As a witness to the business that unfolds in the fresh produce industry, this impression feels like the crux of such conversations. How do we reconcile the detached and impersonal nature of the business with the part that we call passionate—that badge of honor we carry?
A strong disclaimer: This by no means accounts for all business-to-business relationships or companies in general. But, there are many key players that have removed the human interaction from the relationship and made formulas out of handshakes, digital interfaces out of face-to-face interactions, and spreadsheets out of holistic experiences.
There are no answers here in this letter. In many ways, it is just me sorting through the confusion scattered in puzzle pieces across the table before us. This letter is a question: Where do we go from here?
Yes, we must innovate. Yes, we are too busy to travel across cities, states, and countries to sit face-to-face with every customer and counterpart. But, is there a way to move the fulcrum to leverage more of the humanness that makes the fresh produce industry great while still elevating efficiency, productivity, capacity, and output?
As some of our industry members from retail through the supply chain prepare for the uncertain future—which, by default, is always uncertain—I ask how we can hold this paradox more dearly, in a way that adds to the strength of our legacy instead of taking from it.
In our corner of the world here at The Snack, we will be your dedicated and driven advocates and representatives—here to not only tell your stories but to support your vision and give those words room to breathe, be heard, and echoed. As a company steeped in both tech and tradition, we understand the need and impossible task of balancing the weight of the bottom line and the intangibleness of altruism—the head and the heart. Lucky for us, our opportunity to storytell builds the humanity and intimacy back into the digital space, constructing a bridge between the evermore removed life that tech can provide and the closeness that such a collapsed distance can also allow. If anything, we are looking to make our own paradox thrive.
So, this is my invitation to you. Come to us with your paradoxes, your wisdom, your impossibilities, and your solutions. We are always listening—a page, an email, and a phone call away.