I recently polled members of the Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group about climate change and the fresh produce business.
 
I thought of the topic after reading a news story headlined “Research Team Explores Impact of Climate Change on Future of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.”
 
From the University of Arkansas news release:
 

Environmental problems including changes in our climate, loss of fresh water and competition for resources threaten the world’s supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. Marty Matlock, executive director of the U of A Resiliency Center, and professor of ecological engineering, and Greg Thoma, professor of chemical engineering, are part of a team of researchers exploring this problem.

“Through this type of collaborative research, we discover the scientific answers that help solve world hunger problems,” said Jack Payne, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “Knowing where and how to grow crops goes a long way to feeding as many people as possible while conserving our environment.”

The tools the team will use include crop modeling, risk assessment, and life cycle assessment. “The U of A team has developed integrated tools for analyzing risks to complex supply chains,” said Thoma.

Climate change impacts include temperature and water resources. The research team will use crop, environmental, economic and climate modeling to predict current and future impacts on yield. They will analyze the production potential of selected fruit and vegetable crops in states where they are currently grown and identify future locations that will allow for resilient strategies for continued production. 

“The changes in agricultural production in the next 25 years will be dramatic,” said Matlock. “The security and safety of U.S. fruit and vegetables requires a science-based strategy.”

 
My question to the LinkedIn group was this: 
 
 
Here are some excerpts from the discussion thread:
 
JM: I believe the last 5 to 7 years should have enlightened all of us - the old norm is gone . Changing water and temp. patterns have caused huge issues all over the world . There is not only drought but now excessive water and temp. swing issues to try to prepare for . Mother Nature will always dominate but we can help soften the extremes by excepting that every season will now be unlike previous patterns.
 
DC: The total lack of stability in the climate is causing huge effects all over the world. Producing fresh fruit was difficult 25 years ago, today is a continuous challenge and as predictable as knowing the number you will get rolling a dice. In 25 years I don’t think things will be any easier not matter the technology, unless we can take the weather out the equation.
 
AS: Producing any crops is challenging at the best of times. I believe the biggest threats are competing demands for fresh water, spread of plant diseases and insects. It will only get tougher!
 
 
 
TK: At least for those who responded, there is general agreement that climate change is an issue that the industry will have to confront in the decades ahead. It is not fake news. Other interesting and thoughtful responses in the thread examine food miles and transportation issues. Add your views to this under-examined topic.