To merge or not to merge: United and PMA talk on

05/08/2012 11:06:00 AM
Tom Karst

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Laura Bush assured United Fresh convention goers that her father in law had “made peace” with broccoli, which brought hearty laughs from the May 1 general session audience. Her appearance and reflections about years in the White House lent a big time feel and a nice winning moment for the show.

It was refreshing to hear Fred Morganthall, chairman of the Food Marketing Institute and president of North Carolina-based Harris Teeter, give a self-deprecating vision of the future in his keynote address.

Noting how wrong predictions from 10 years ago were (remember how RFID tags and self-checkout lanes were supposed to be everywhere by now) he put no great stock in his own vision for the next decade. He did seem quite assured, however, about the staying power of local food and the certainty of increased online sales by retailers and by suppliers.

He said large suppliers like Proctor and Gamble will ship products to consumers directly, and Amazon will challenge Wal Mart as the number one retailer in the country.

That observation made me think; can produce suppliers of the future craft a market edge by delivering perishables directly to the consumer and bypassing the retail store all together?

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There had  been no official announcement as of the United Fresh show, but there was excitement about the addition of blueberries to McDonalds’ oatmeal options. Sounds like a winner to me and big business for the blueberry handlers. The most recent coverage in The Packer on blueberries and McDonald's can be found here.


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