Nov 2, 2023Rabobank releases report on global produce trends
The fresh produce industry faces many challenges across the globe, including weather extremes, geopolitical tensions and a decreasing and more expensive workforce throughout the supply chain.
Fortunately, with numerous technological innovations and new products being developed, the future remains full of opportunities for the fresh produce industry, according to a new report from Rabobank.
Rabobank released the report following the International Fresh Produce Association’s (IFPA) Global Produce and Floral Show. Rabobank sent a delegation to the show, which noted trends in the industry through the report.
Automation gains steam
In the long term, it does seem that leafy green production and processing will also be more automated, despite the current challenges for high-tech grown greens, according to Rabobank. Just like many other fruit and vegetable industries, the costs and availability of labor, as well as more limited water availability and/or more stringent sustainability requirements, are challenging. At the same time, consumers demand an ever-higher quality. Automation can be a solution, and the show included many demonstrations. Automation solutions ranged from robotic harvesters for strawberries and tomatoes, to extremely advanced sorting equipment for fruits, to technologies for assisting pollination in avocado, blueberry and almond production.
According to some industry sources, the payback period for some robotic packaging or sorting equipment is currently less than one year. Various food waste solutions were showcased at the expo, including fruit coatings to increase shelf life and an in-retail scanner to determine the ripeness of avocados, preventing consumers from squeezing the fruit until it is unsellable.
Nuts at your convenience
With California at the center of global almond and pistachio production, tree nuts were displayed at many booths at the IFPA show. Demand no longer outpaces supply, and suppliers are putting more effort into marketing almonds, pistachios, and walnuts. Many products feature new flavors, and are available in various pack sizes. Show attendees were bombarded with flavored pistachios, from very sweet to extremely spicy. Unshelled pistachios were prominent, as the convenience trend seems to be unstoppable, even in a year with strong economic headwinds.