Nailing the future: predictions for the produce industry

08/30/2013 06:36:00 AM
Tom Karst

Tom Karst“Despite massive investments of money, effort, and ingenuity, our ability to predict human affairs is impressive only in its mediocrity. With metronomic regularity, what is expected does not come to pass, while what isn’t, does.”

That passage comes from an article called “What’s wrong with expert predictions: Our aversion to acknowledging our ignorance” by Dan Gardner and Philip Tetlock.

I agree that we, in our professional and personal lives, cannot precisely predict what our future holds, notwithstanding the time we spend pondering it.

Yet I trust industry experts and “our” collective wisdom in assigning probability to some of the biggest trends in the next few years. I posed a question to the LinkedIn Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group that asked

What will be the biggest change in the produce industry in five years?

The options are

1. Growing/packing technology

2. Consolidation

3. Food safety regulations

4. Labor stress

 

So far, the leading vote getter – and my own selection – is “food safety regulations” with 36% of the vote.

 

Here are some excerpts of comments:

 

Doug writes:

I actually think consolidation will become the paradigm due in no small part to increasingly costly food safety regulations. We will see much the same dynamic in the trucking industry, with big players much more structurally and financially able to absorb the costs than the small owner-operators - and the big trucking companies will absorb all the smaller players. Likewise for Big Farm vs. Farmer Brown.

Andrew weighs inc:

I would like to have seen the inclusion of resource constraints as a voting option. While labor stress does fit in to that category, I believe rising energy costs and water availability are being overlooked as factors that will shape product availability and costs over the next five years. I recently wrote a piece for a leading produce journal specifically on the risks associated with increased water demands from growing urban centers and industry, and how this is likely to impact key growing areas in California, Arizona and Colorado. If anyone would like a copy of the article, I would be happy to supply such.

 

Standing five years out, it would seem all of the multiple choice options will be in play to be the top choice. And, of course, the options that aren’t listed may be even more likely.



Comments (1) Leave a comment 

Name
e-Mail (required)
Location

Comment:

characters left

john kiwala    
iowa  |  August, 30, 2013 at 12:23 PM

it's not to far fetched to think that city dwellers will someday need a garden permit...food safety regs will eliminate growers , and incentives will go to those who can affordably consolidate; this will likely shape the market....with less players comes more predictability , less innovation, and annual pilgrimages to see adam smith roll over in his grave!

Feedback Form
Leads to Insight