The book, authored by John Casti, examines various doomsday scenarios for human society, ranging from super volcanos, communicable diseases, Internet meltdowns, science experiments gone awry, and so on. This book is about really bad things that could happen in realms of transportation, trade, electricity, finance, food, water and medicine.
The book cover tag line warns, after perhaps just one of these X events, “we will enter the premodern world overnight.”
No more Amazon Prime, I guess. I’ll finally have to learn how to grow tomatoes in the backyard.
But aside from the uncomfortable sense that one or more of such X events may actually befall society , the premise of the book has me thinking this question; what are possible X events for the fresh produce industry? What events have been - or will be - so dramatic that they single-handedly change the course of the industry?
Of course “X events” can be good as well as disastrous, but the author warned that “benevolent” X events usually take decades to unfold.
With a mission to sell books, the author did not talk about X events that will change our lives for the better. Refrigeration, computerization, the interstate highway system and breakthrough medical advances may be good, but they don’t make compelling copy.
The author wrote about X events that could take society off the rails.
So then, what are the “X events” for the industry? For one thing, X events are by nature unpredictable. I was looking back at The Packer’s A Century in Produce 1893-1993, a chronicle of the industry and the publication over that 100 year period.
In making its observations over the century of produce that passed, the publication observed that truck farms gave way to commercial scale mechanized production. Ice bunker railcars gave way to mechanical reefers and then trucks,. Regional based distribution of fruits and vegetable evolved to cross country marketing, and fruit auctions passed the baton to f.o.b. selling.
All of these developments could be considered small cap x events in their own right,
On one of the last pages of the 558-page publication is devoted to peek into the future. Mike Glynn, a great writer for The Packer then, worte a column titled “Anything is possible with produce’s future.”
Glynn accurately talked about the future trends of Electronic Data Exchange, the escalating use of technology at the farm level and throughout the distribution chain, the rise of value added produce, and brand marketing efforts to consumers. Glynn pondered whether the “wonders of biotechnology” on improved flavor, shelf life and disease resistance would take a toehold, a development that has still not occurred.