ANAHEIM, Calif. – By 2022, the fresh produce industry can expect millions more mouths to feed, the potential of robots harvesting strawberries and frugal customers who shop online.
In a view of the future that includes technology that would change all parts of the supply chain, Bryan Silbermann had some help introducing Fresh Summit 2012 attendees back to the future.
A state of the industry panel moderated by Silbermann included four other industry leaders who considered what the world would like in 2022 and how the industry should prepare now.
Silbermann, president and chief executive officer of the Produce Marketing Association, asked attendees to consider a world population of nearly 8 billion people.
“Think about the world in 2022, and ask yourself how much of your current world will no longer exist ten years from now,” he said.
Four industry thought leaders spoke about what the produce world will be like in 2022, from left to right Vernon Crowder, Rabobank, vice president and agricultural economist; Leslie Sarasin, president and chief executive officer of Food Marketing Institute, Victor Smith, president and chief executive officer of Fresh Innovations, LLC, and Elliot Grant, founder of YottaMark, Inc. He suggested the industry would shift from a business-to-business perspective to a business-to- consumer view of the world. Increasing ways of connecting with consumers through technology would make consumers closer than ever in 2022, Silbermann said.
“Consumers have become our friends, advisors and advocates,” he said. “They have carved out their rightful place as the drivers of demand and by listening to them and interacting with them and restructuring our companies to better serve them and that is the sweet spot.”
Vernon Crowder, vice president and agriculture economist for Rabobank, Fresno, Calif., said the world’s population will near 8 billion by 2022 and 9 billion by 2050. More than 97% of population growth will come in developing countries, Crowder said.
About half the world’s population is living in urban areas and that percentage will increase to 70% by 2050. The world's population will increase by 30% in the next 40 years, but demand for food will double, he said.
While demand will continue to increase, the world’s agricultural productivity is not increasing at the same rate, he said. With tight water, energy and labor supply, Crowder said growers need better productivity, friendly trade policies, biotech crops and technology in the supply chain to reduce an estimated 1.5 billion pounds of food wasted every year.