National Editor Tom Karst 1:43 p.m. Checking the fresh produce headlines today, Chiquita's license deal with Charlotte, N.C.-based International Fruit Company is one way to keep the brand in front of more folks without risk of loss. It is worth the try. In the words of Carly Simon, “And if that better way ain’t so, I’ll ride with the tide and go with the flow.”
1:45 p.m. The Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group had a good weekend of discussions and new comments. At 6,220 members, the group is the leading “fresh produce” group on LinkedIn.
Check out this intriguing commentary on FDA form 483.
More votes and comments on the thread, “What is holding back produce demand? "
Check out this thoughtful comment from one member:
"Take some time to go to a farmers market and listen to what the "consumer" is asking and saying.
The industry bred produce for shipping. The industry bred produce for looks. the industry bred produce and forgot that people eat the produce.
Time after time I hear: It looks like lettuce but, It looks like a tomato but.
Consumers that grew up eating fresh produce out of a garden or that grow a garden themselves know the difference. If they buy it at the store and it doesn't taste the same, or if they see it and it looks battered and bruised and choose not to buy it isn't a stretch to know why.
It's looks like a tomato. It's even almost the same color as a tomato but it sure doesn't taste like what they know of a tomato.
The same goes for every other type of produce.
The problem is where it is grown and how long it took to get to the market.
The same old, same old, isn't cutting it anymore. It is time to bring the fruit back to the consumer. Grow it where they eat it so they can not only see it grown but taste the difference. Week old trucked in produce is not going to satisfy todays consumer and no amount of marketing is going to change that.
It's about the product. Taste, quality, looks in that order not the other way around.
Fresh means today not last week."
1:59 p.m. The Packer Market, the new social network site, continues to gain new members everyday, with a nice international flavor. Activity/attention to the site will be ramping up. Join up!
2:01 p.m. The USDA FAS has put out a new report on sustainable agriculture in Italy. Marketers and consumers are still wandering around the wilderness relative to the definition of “sustainable” versus “organic,” the report seems to say; From the USDA:
In Italy, sustainability is synonymous with organic, as consumer demand for separate “sustainable” food certification is very low. Unlike other EU countries, Italy does not have any legal requirements when it comes to sustainability, while it does encourage businesses and farmers to improve environmental standards and act responsibly, providing financial incentives for local businesses and Regions who wish to apply sustainable farming practices. However, uniform sustainability criteria have not yet been defined.
2:04 p.m. British retailers continue to get pounded on the horsemeat scandal, with the latest commentary pointing to the fact that the all-too-smug larger retailers have only just started to have their comeuppance. Is the “horsemeat” scandal a symptom of retailer bullying of farmers/suppliers? That is how some are judging it. The British Retail Consortium begs to differ, stressing there is no need for panic and that self-regulation will win the day. From the BRC release:
"Our top priority is to continue to engage with our customers and reassure them that we have effective solutions to the issues that have come to light. Retailers are using every available channel for direct dialogue with their customers, from social and traditional media to answering questions in-store.
"It's clear that there will be things that need to change for the future as a result of these incidents. Retailers are scrutinising their systems and processes, alongside intelligence gathering and sharing to identify practical improvements that will turn the lessons learned into action."
TK: Ah, yes, the familiar "lessons learned" fallback position. It's the best they can do right now, in any case.
2:16 p.m. Follow me on twitter @tckarst. Almost to 2,000 followers!
2:17 p.m. Again, with the long delay between posts; Perishable Pundit hasn’t published since Jan. 22. Just sayin..
2:22 p.m. Local smocal? Look for Packer coverage of the USDA recent report on long term agricultural projections. One tidbit from that report, on the increase profile of imports for the U.S. market:
Imports increasingly supplement domestic production of horticultural crops and products. By 2022, imports are projected to supply 52 percent of domestic fruit and nut use and 24 percent of vegetable use, in terms of farm weight. In 2012, these shares were 44 percent and 19 percent, respectively.