National Editor Tom Karst How can a produce company get a leg up in this market?
Which is the smartest/most effective way for a produce company to differentiate itself? Why?
The options I listed were:
2. Low price
4. Unique varieties/niche
5. Advertising/promotion campaign
Four votes so far and an insightful comment by Dan'l Mackey Almy, so check that discussion out and add your thoughts.
Checking the Fresh Talk hotlinks today, I was interested to see coverage from Australia about hand-wringing by growers about the fate of their citrus export model. Currently all Aussie citrus exports to the U.S. are handled by Florida-based DNE World Fruit Sales, but a government review has found the arrangement is anti-competitive, though no final call has been made on the issue.
From across the pond, it appears Europe is trying to tighten its rules on sprout production. From Europa, EU food safety authorities say they have endorsed a package of measures proposed by the Commission "that will further strengthen safety and hygiene of sprout production and aim to prevent incidents like the E-coli outbreak of 2011."
The rules are:
- approval by Member States of all sprouts producing plants after competent authorities check compliance with EU hygiene rules
- tightening traceability requirements for seeds intended for sprouts and sprout production;
- testing for the absence of pathogenic E. coli in sprouts on the market for each batch of seeds intended for sprouting as well as certifying compliance with EU rules at import of sprouts or seeds intended for sprouting.
Sounds like a pretty daunting set of rules, but the question there, as in the U.S., is this: Do food safety authorities have the resources to check on compliance?
Check out the 23-page "lessons learned" document on the E. coli sprout outbreak here.
Conclusions from that document:
Producers: From the point of view of the economic operators, this crisis created damages to the supply chain (direct losses, produce withdrawals) in excess of 1 billion € due to lost sales, low prices, overcapacity. Despite the EU compensation, full recovery will take years.
Trade: Arguably the biggest damage was on the image of fresh produce. EU consumers and in Third countries do associate fruit & vegetables with healthy nutrition, not with food poisoning. Reputation damage to specific produce (cucumbers) and Member States (Spain) was especially high. Restoring confidence takes much longer than the few seconds it took to destroy it, even if mistakenly.