Another year is coming to an end, and with that we’re looking forward to what 2019 may bring upon us. As the old adage states, “change is the only constant in life,” and those words hold true now more than ever in the evolving produce industry.
Our sector operates within a highly competitive global marketplace, growing, storing, selling, transporting, and merchandising highly perishable fresh goods. Businesses continually strive to innovate and change to meet industry demands and consumer expectations by improving supply chain efficiencies, logistics, packaging, waste reduction, and addressing major issues including, but not limited to, inputs for production, environment, labor, and energy.
The Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) has set out to delve into the innovation ecosystem to foster a collaborative setting which supports disruptive technologies for the long-term viability of the industry. This taste of advancement through CPMA programs and initiatives will enable sector growth and new business opportunities for the produce industry and our members. We will be focusing on observing and assessing new technologies in the market, as well as future concepts, to identify the top cutting-edge systems in our sector.
...It is critical for organizations to continue developing and implementing new methods and technology...
Ron Lemaire, President, CPMA
Evidently, one of the most popular disruptive technologies in our industry has been online commerce. Since the dawn of online retail in the mid-90s, the global online sales market has ballooned to become a trillion dollar annual marketplace. Naturally, online sales began with non-perishable items, but the fresh fruit and vegetable industry has in due course created practical methods by which we can penetrate online trade. According to a year-long Nielsen survey conducted in 2017, Canadians’ ‘trips’ to shop online increased by nine percent, while their trips to physical stores actually decreased by one percent. While these numbers alone may seem insignificant on the scale of a billion-dollar economy, this represents millions of dollars in consumer spending. Based on annual growth of online sales, all signs point to this trend continuing.
As we know, eye-catching packaging is critical in gaining the consumer’s attention in order to positively affect their purchase decision. Now, in addition to that, we’re seeing a trend towards packaging that allows a simplified consumption process. Whether it be multi-compartment packaging, pre-seasoned goods, or single-serving-sized units, consumers are increasingly seeking quick, fresh options. In the second-by-second age we’re living in, our traditional brick-and-mortar stores need to compete with pre-packaged meal delivery companies. We live in a culture where speed is of the essence, and conveniently-packaged foods are a way to consumers’ hearts.
Packaging type is also essential for eco-friendly and zero-waste businesses. As buyers’ decisions become more in tune with environmental cause and effect, companies are looking to invest in sustainable green projects, and clean packaging is one strategy. This objective goes hand-in-hand with the related issue of food waste reduction.
Many initiatives have begun, including the testing of plant extract sprays to increase the shelf-life of fresh produce, stores dedicated to the sale of imperfect produce, and apps being developed for the same purpose—yet there is still much more to be done.
In order to stay at the forefront of our industry, it is critical for organizations to continue developing and implementing new methods and technology for the ease of business with their customers. The CPMA will continue to monitor evolving trends in order to support our members and encourage the global produce industry to grow.