( The Packer )

The last time we reviewed industry answers to The Packer's 125 survey, we asked a broad question about industry innovations and evolution in the next 25 years.

In this blog post, I will be reviewing industry responses to this question

What one improvement would make your business easier for the next 25 years?


  • Food safety detection technology;
  • Transportation and logistics efficiency;
  • Easier access to labor that does not require so many non-direct salary benefits;
  • Labor improvements in how our produce is harvested;
  • We need to automate the process. Also, water as a resource.;
  • Centralized buying as we had at Safeway which now Albertson’s has dismantled now. Sharing information by far is the most important asset;
  • Consistency of product from the field to the retailer. If all fruits and vegetables could be mass made with the same consistency it’d be so much easier;
  • Trucking is the weak link in the produce industry, maybe autonomous truck are the answer;
  • Better distribution freight options;
  • Educate the government on what’s really going on, so they can either support the truth or stay out of it completely;
  • Easier access for foreign labor on U.S. farms;
  • There is no one improvement but many incremental ones;
  • More education about careers in agriculture from high school through college to entice young people to want to enter the produce industry;
  • Consumer confidence and a willingness by the buyer to focus on the sales end of the business, not the cost end. Buying the cheapest should not be the end goal;
  • Expansion of year-round production;
  • Eliminate the micromanagement at multiple levels, give buyers more autonomy to make decisions;
  • Speaking as a career retailer, whose not in retail any longer...if fresh produce is going to maintain its place as the center of the plate when it comes to profitability for retail, retailers are going to have to understand that price is not the only indicator of a “good deal” suppliers must be able to sustain themselves. The price pressures on the supply side is driving more consolidation. With less supplier options, buyers will end up with reduced leverage in that scenario;
  • Mechanical harvesting;
  • We need to stop the food safety outbreaks;
  • Have a human presence regardless of the level of automation. People may not enjoy talking to machines;
  • Less reliance on manual labor;
  • Accountability on the regulatory side to better understand growers and producers vs influence of activists;
  • More automation and more intelligent software;
  • Equal education efforts from the conventional side of the produce business which would emphasize the safety, quality, variety, sustainability and flavor attributes that represents the vast majority of our business;
  • As a former grower/ shipper the elimination of back billing;
  • Manageable labor supply;
  • Cost of growing;
  • Better use of technology; and
  • Supply/Cold Chain improvements for the last mile and retail deliveries.

TK: The importance of labor came through loud and clear in our survey, as did the desire for more receptive government leaders and industry regulators.

Check out other anniversary-themed editorial content and look for more insight from our industry survey in coming blog posts.