Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023 - 44

Produce
By Andy Nelson
THE CURRENT STATE OF THE FRESH PRODUCE INDUSTRY is a
mix of the Good, the Bad and (not the Ugly, or even the Ugli Fruit) the
Unknown.
Those were the categories International Fresh Produce Association
CEO Cathy Burns used to organize the 2023 version of her State of
the Industry speech, delivered Oct. 19 at IFPA's annual convention in
Anaheim, Calif.
" The state of the produce industry is good, but it could be better, "
Burns said.
On the good side, fresh produce is in a prominent, maybe unique,
position to positively influence two of the biggest challenges facing
Planet Earth: global warming and obesity.
IFPA and its members, Burns said, have made huge strides toward
achieving more climate-friendly agricultural practices, and that work
will only intensify. And getting people in the US and throughout the
world to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables will save untold billions in
health care and related costs.
" The world needs us - more than ever before, " Burns said. " We can
help solve some of the biggest problems in the world. "
On the bad side, those problems won't be easy to fix.
The heat, flooding and other extreme weather events that have
dominated headlines in 2023 as never before have taken a huge toll on
agriculture and growers' ability to supply the world with fresh fruits and
vegetables.
And further down the supply chain, logistics hiccups and labor
shortages often make those challenges even greater.
On the nutrition side, the produce industry continues to scratch its
collective head - if not bang it against a wall - over the million-dollar
question of why people don't eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
" It's no secret that our greatest hurdle is consumption, " Burns
said. " We have seen some areas of growth, but we're capable of so
much more. "
Forty percent of the world's population is overweight or obese, and
Burns said that number hasn't peaked yet.
And when it comes to promoting solutions, it doesn't help when
organizations like Weight Watchers start recommending weight loss
44 - DECEMBER 2023
Our opportunity is to work
with this technology, not fight it. "
Cathy Burns, IFPA
drugs - " doing a 180 " from its previous focus on better nutrition,
Burns said.
Dominating the " Unknown " section of Burns's three-part State of the
Industry address was AI.
In 2023, she said, AI has gone from " nowhere " to " now here, " and its
track record thus far is definitely a mixed bag.
Its growth, however, can't be denied. In less than two years,
companies' adoptions of AI technologies have grown by 400%. And its
increases in operational efficiencies and new revenue are projected to
total $113 billion.
" Our opportunity is to work with this technology, not fight it, " Burns
said. " Innovation is not the enemy, inertia is. "
Produce packaging, present and future
When it comes to packaging, the fresh produce industry has one eye on
the present, one on the future.
Both are crucial to ensuring that government-mandated, supplier
and retailer sustainability goals are met, according to industry experts
speaking at an Oct. 19 panel at the International Fresh Produce
Association's annual convention.
Speaking with an eye on the future, John Paap, sustainability and
brand marketing manager for leading fruit importer Jac Vandenberg
Inc., compared the search for the best produce packaging solution
with the United States's quest in the 1960s to put a man on the moon.
Paap's idea of the moonshot is a world in which produce packaging is
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Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023

Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023 - Intro
Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023 - 1
Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023 - 2
Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023 - 3
Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023 - 4
Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023 - 5
Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023 - 6
Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023 - 7
Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023 - 8
Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023 - 9
Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023 - 10
Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023 - 11
Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023 - 12
Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023 - 13
Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023 - 14
Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023 - 15
Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023 - 16
Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023 - 17
Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023 - 18
Supermarket Perimeter - December 2023 - 19
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