Ten years seems like a good amount of time to see how the industry responded to its biggest issues and news items, so I thought it would be worth looking at 2002’s top 10 stories as determined by The Packer.
1. PBH emphasizes 5 a Day the Color Way
The Produce for Better Health Foundation remains an important promoter of fruit and vegetable consumption, even though 5 a Day has been replaced by a new nutrition guide. The sad part is that Americans are more obese today than 10 years ago, despite all the promotion for healthy eating.
2. Iceberg prices skyrocket and other weather problems
Some things never change, and although lettuce wasn’t a weather victim this year, the northeast and Michigan apple crop was hit hard.
3. The tomato industry forms working group to head off future trade disputes
The North American Tomato Trade Work Group was more successful in promoting commodity specific food safety guidelines than in preventing trade problems, although it seems like it’s taken about 10 years for the “trade war” to heat up again. It’s back in 2012’s top 10 list at No.3.
4. U.S. export prospects to Cuba brighten
This item could be 1982 or 1992 or it seems 2022. Industry is always optimistic next year is the year Cuba is back in play, and it never is.
5. Produce makes progress in the farm bill
The 2002 farm bill represented serious gains for the first time for fresh produce. Hundreds of millions for fresh produce government purchases were authorized; market access funds were set at $100 million and rising; and the produce in schools program got its first funding. This was a huge precedent, as the industry got more funding in the 2008 farm bill, and now waits to see if the 2012 farm bill will get done.