"You know you are in the fresh produce industry if..."

That's one of the latest discussion threads in the LinkedIn Fresh Produce industry Discussion Group, and I can't wait for folks to chime in.

 Some of the answers so far:

  •  "when you pay exorbitant prices for early season fruit with lousy flavour!"
  • "...when the produce pack just says what's enclosed and nothing else!"
  • walk into a grocery store, go straight to the produce, and say the same thing every time."Look what these thieves are charging for this garbage" if at normal price. "Why do they have to give it away?" if on ad.
  •  "When you wake up early on Sundays and Holidays. And check the weather in the rest of the Country. When you live in California."
  •   "You take a jacket on a central valley tour even though it's 100 degrees outside, because you know there is a cooler in your future."

 

Mine: when you have multiple California Avocado Commission satchels from past PMA shows piling up in your closet.

Another hot question: describe what you do in five words or less.

By the way, we have nearly 2,300 members of the group, and it remains the largest "fresh produce"-oriented group on LinkedIn.

 Another headline that could catch your eye this morning and start a more sober conversation: "Woolworths, Coles pushed on fruit and veg costs"

 From the story in news.com.au:

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon and Independent MP Bob Katter have drafted a Bill to force supermarkets to divulge the information on their websites and at the point of sale in the hope of getting farmers a better deal.

 The Farm Gate Pricing Bill will be simultaneously presented in both houses in a fortnight.

 "Paddock to plate transparency is long overdue and if Coles and Woolies believe they are paying fair prices to farmers, I challenge them to embrace this labeling system and let the consumer decide," Senator Xenophon said.

 Smaller independent supermarkets and greengrocers would be exempt.

 "The first thing is to expose the fact Australians pay the highest price for food in the world and our farmers are the lowest paid," Mr Katter, founder of the Australian Party, said.

 

 

"Transparency" is the father of regulation. To what does this dispute over pricing stem from? Is it poor relations/communication between growers and retailers, political opportunism or a valid attempt to boost competition in the fresh produce aisle?

 From a food policy perspective, should lawmakers be interested if retailers sell alcohol or "junk food" at a consistently lower margin than fresh produce?

 There have also been various times in the U.S. when growers have been intent on highlighting the "growers' share" of the consumer dollar. In the aggregate, I don't believe such efforts have ever yielded much long term advantage to growers, though. Bashing all retailers is not a good idea.

 

Another approach may be to put together a consumer-oriented "gradecard" of retailers who offer the highest % of grower returns relative to retail prices. In that way, there are winners and losers in a pricing study - and the winners would be supermarkets who offer the best fresh produce value to consumers.