Megatrends and more from Fruit Logistica ( The Packer )

I didn’t attend Fruit Logistica in Berlin this year, but I did ask the LinkedIn Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group about what they saw there.

Here are a few responses:

  • RS I have seen the first ever nest stack bulk bin for fresh produce on the Macro Plastics stand in Hall 23...... very clever.
  • CD I had a fantastic time networking and exploring the opportunities to work with partners to bring biodegradable and compostable packaging to our customers so we can help to reduce plastic wastage whilst still improving shelf life. That and of course meeting a smiling life-sized apple!
  • SM New Wood Look merchandising units @polymerlogistics in stand 21
  • MS My best experience was after the FL was finished. I got in contact with some volunteers from an organization in Berlin that feeds those in need called Tafelberlin and our leftover products got to the right people.

It is good to hear these reports from the show, without the buzzwords and industry-speak that are always added to official accounts.

Still, it is worth checking out the Fruit Logistica news center’s coverage of the Fruit Logistica report called “Disruption in Fruit and Vegetable Distribution”

From the release:

(The report) predicts a number of opportunities and challenges for everyone connected with the fruit and vegetable business, including:

  •  The appearance of faster, more flexible distribution networks characterized by greater transparency, more sophisticated forecasting systems, and, in many cases, closer collaboration between supply chain partners who were previously prone to contentious negotiation;
  •  Continued growth in online sales of fresh fruit and vegetables across the globe, driven by lower delivery costs, better distribution technology, and growing interest among shoppers.
  • Far greater complexity and higher expectations from customers in the foodservice arena, as consumers look to find better quality, convenience, and variety across an increasingly range of outlets.

The expanded trends report looks at four mega-trends:

  • Increasing world population;
  • Digital technologies and data;
  • Autonomous transportation; and 
  • Health and well being.


Finally, for a glimpse at some of the innovation at Fruit Logistica, check out this link on the innovation award from Fruit Logistica media center,  “Pook Coconut Chips” wins the 2018 FRUIT LOGISTICA Innovation Award




Is the pushback against plastics/polystyrene packaging real?

I think so.  Check out this news release from the Urban School Food Alliance


The School District of Philadelphia and Baltimore City Public Schools are the latest school districts in the Urban School Food Alliance (Alliance) to say goodbye to polystyrene serving items in schools for better environmental practices.  Both Philadelphia and Baltimore have started the process of rolling out the use of compostable round plates designed by the Alliance in lunchrooms – with the two districts diverting 19 million polystyrene food service items from landfills.

The Urban School Food Alliance is a coalition of the largest school districts in the United States that includes New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Orange County in Orlando, Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Clark County in Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston.  In 2014, the original six members of the group (NYC, LA, Chicago, Miami, Dallas and Orange County) challenged industry to develop an innovative and affordable environmentally-friendly round plate to replace 225 million polystyrene trays across their six schools districts each year. 

“Shifting from polystyrene trays to compostable plates helps reduce plastics pollution in our communities and oceans and begins to create valuable compost that can be re-used on our farms,” said Margaret Brown, attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), one of the nation’s leading environmental and public health organizations and a non-profit partner of the Alliance. “This is also an important step for cities in beginning to slash significant amounts of waste going to overburdened landfills. The Urban School Food Alliance is helping Baltimore and Philadelphia make important changes that can be a model for schools across the country.”

The Urban School Food Alliance serves nearly 3.7 million children daily, translating to more than 631 million meals a year.  With an annual budget of $831 million in food and supplies, the nonprofit group allows the districts to share best practices and to leverage their purchasing power to continue to drive food quality up and costs down while incorporating sound environmental practices. 

“As one of the smaller districts in the Alliance, we couldn’t have afforded to purchase compostable plates on our own,” said School District of Philadelphia Senior Vice President of Food Services Wayne T. Grasela.  “This initiative aligns with GreenFutures, the district’s overall sustainability plan and advances the District’s work in reducing our environmental impact.”

Schools across America use polystyrene trays because they cost less than compostable ones. Polystyrene trays average about $0.04 apiece, compared to its compostable counterpart, which averages about $0.12 each. Given the extremely tight budgets in school meal programs, affording compostable plates seemed impossible until the Urban School Food Alliance districts used their collective purchasing power to innovate a compostable round plate for schools at an affordable cost of about $0.05 each.

Philadelphia, which now uses the compostable plate, is meeting with student environmental clubs to help design a marketing campaign to get the word out about the new compostable plates and how they help preserve the environment.  The district also plans a pilot program among its high schools to compost the plates.  

Baltimore will roll out the plates over the next three months in the district. It currently has composting in a few middle schools and plans to pilot composting programs in other schools.

The American-made molded fiber compostable round plate is produced from 100 percent pre-consumer recycled paper fibers.  It is manufactured in Maine by Huhtamaki North America. The Alliance round plate has five compartments, with the beverage compartment strategically placed in the middle to balance the weight of a typical meal. The innovative design prevents hinging or bending and is easy to handle.


TK: With the buying power of these large school districts, it would pay to keep an eye on compostables. Note to Fruit Logistica: this could be the beginning of another megatrend.