ANAHEIM, Calif. — The title of a morning “Experience Extensions” session at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit on Oct. 17 was “What’s Hot and What’s Not in Produce Science & Technology.”
But most of the ideas proffered by facilitators Ed Treacy, PMA’s vice president of supply chain and sustainability; Trevor Suslow, PMA’s vice president of food safety; and Vonnie Estes, PMA’s vice president of technology, seemed to fall into the “hot” category.
A panel of industry experts weighed in on a number of topics.
Tom Casas, vice president of information technology for Tanimura & Antle, said blockchain traceability is a hot topic, even though the technology is not really new.
“It’s hot because buyers want us to use it,” he said.
About recalls, Casas said Tanimura & Antle surpasses minimum food safety requirements, but “it only takes one person not following the rules to bring down the industry.”
He called for better traceback capabilities from buyers’ distribution centers to stores.
George Nikolich, vice president of technical operations for Gerawan Farming Inc., said the industry doesn’t seem to be learning as much as it should from recalls in areas such as exposure to legal actions.
Nikki Rodoni, founder and CEO of Measure to Improve, was outspoken on climate change.
“There’s no one industry that is going to be more impacted by climate change than agriculture,” she said.
Rodoni said agriculture is not making enough progress in areas such as land use and livestock.
“The good news is, agriculture has an opportunity to mitigate climate change” by implementing food waste laws and providing healthy soil and renewable energy.
The topic then switched to sustainability, which John Chamberlain, vice president of marketing for Limoneira, said is market driven.
The next generation of consumers is more educated than the last one, he said, and they are asking grocery store managers and foodservice operators what they are doing sustainably.
Consumers are looking for “food with integrity,” he said.
Sustainability even can affect where people want to work, added Cynthia Mejia, interim chairwoman and associate professor in the department of foodservice and lodging management at the UCF Rosen College of Hospitality.
Other panelists were Adrielle Dankier, commercial director for Nature’s Pride; Leonard Batti, vice president of Taylor Farms; and Tyler Young, director of operations for Full Harvest.