Word games aside, the riddle of what is coming around the bend is always before us. Is the stock market due for a big correction or simply a maturing bull market? Is online retailing really going to steam roll brick and mortar retailers? Will spring ever come in 2014?
Trends and forward-focused programming is the first order of business for trade shows, and a prime example is the imminent Fruit Logistica show in Berlin.
A schedule of the Feb. 5-7 event’s “Future Lab” was recently released and the agendapromises to present “products, projects and solutions aimed at enhancing the fruit and vegetable sector with innovations in the coming years.”
Whether these workshops are truly windows into the world as it will exist in 10 years or so much hot air won’t be known for some time.
Predictions can’t be laughed at when they are made, because the veracity of the speculation won’t be known for years and perhaps decades. Often the most woefully wrong predictions are the ones that aren’t made. Looking back at The Packer’s coverage of prediction-oriented trade show workshops from the 1990s, I saw no mention of organic and local food as trends worth watching. That was a major miss by the industry’s fearless forecasters.
But lest we sleep on the next practically perfect prediction, here is a quick look at a couple of workshops from the Fruit Logistica Future Lab.
One presentation is titled “Fighting Black Sigatoka - the end for Cavendish?” The speaker will be Gianluca Gondolini, head of the World Banana Forum’s Secretariat for the Food and Agriculture Organization. The description of the Feb. 5 workshop builds a note of drama and a cliffhanger question to resolve:
“The problem is that Cavendish bananas are threatened by diseases such as Black Sigatoka and TR4. Can these diseases be controlled? If so, how? And what alternative solutions are there?”
Are we going to wake up one day and look at the fruit bowl and see no bananas? I doubt it, but let’s wait to see what the “Future Lab” workshop says about the “end of the cavendish.”
Another Future Lab workshop, set for Feb. 6, is titled “Customized fruit - to your health!” A news release from Fruit Logistica said the speaker, Andrew MacKenzie, business development manager, Plant & Food Research, New Zealand, will look at the intriguing question of marketing specific health benefits to consumers through plant breeding. The workshop summary said the presentation focuses on discoveries in the area of health benefits from fruit and looks at how these may be brought to consumers.
I have recently been exploring the topic of specific health benefits and health claims for fruit and vegetable commodities, so this workshop caught my eye. Can new health benefits - perhaps someday gleaned through biotech - raise the bar of fruit and vegetable consumption?
Other Future Lab topics at Fruit Logistica:
PIQA pears – a whole new fruit category
Quantum leap in lettuce breeding
Biologica - a nice, clean world
Optimising the intensive greenhouse production of vegetables
Information superhighway for fresh produce
TK: Perhaps all these topis are not "game-changers," but the Future Lab does make us look forward to these discussions at Fruit Logistica 2014.