The Packer’s 125th-anniversary issue is soon coming, and in a series of blog posts I have described the results of a survey we posted in conjunction with our editorial efforts for the publication. 

We have also posted a number of columns contributed by industry leaders about their observations of the industry, along with previously published articles from earlier anniversary issues.

Today, I want to highlight a question from The Packer’s 125th industry survey that asks this:

How will produce retailing change in the next 25 years?

Here are a good many of the responses we received:

  • The online marketplace is here to stay and fresh produce will be a differentiating factor;
  • More home delivery, more self service;
  • Less staffing in the stores;
  • Technology and digital will change the consumer purchase path;
  • Trying from the old to the (new) technology but not forgetting where came from;
  • I think the produce department will always be a place where retailers can set their store apart from the competition. I think retailers will keep finding their marketing plan and will execute on that and whether it is price driven, quality driven or whatever, it will always be with a goal of being the best department in their region;
  • Large Retailers will finally realize that they can’t sell produce like they sell grocery and that the way to drive stores sales is through the produce departments. Educated produce people, great displays, minimal packaging , value pricing, real sustainability which translates into selling produce with its natural ebbs and flows not a predetermined price. Organics take center stage;
  • It feels like center store is dying and perishable emphasis will evolve;
  • Trends, Analysis, and big data will change everything;
  • No one can predict the future for five years much less 25 years;
  • We will go back to having produce stands/stores as everything else can be ordered online for home delivery;
  • Online ordering, home delivery, and the focus everywhere being on reduced labor. Produce sales will continue to grow each year and more and people be having their own back yard “farms” and supporting the neighborhood garden co-ops and local farmers market. It’s all about the perceptions not the reality;
  • More produce will be grown where it is sold;
  • I think eventually all produce will be packaged similar to Trader Joe’s;
  • I expect more retailers to “invest” more in training and development...its the next step in the differentiation evolution. Pricing only gets you so staff are able to relate to consumers inquiries and understanding what they are selling and how to handle it will be paramount to be successful over that time;
  • Online and delivery will take over, but we in produce need to figure out how we get quality right in this environment;
  • Far more diverse options -- in-store, online, delivered, picked up, stores, markets, kiosks. Focus on taste and convenience, supported by health and nutrition. Greater differentiation -- compelling reasons to come to Store/Chain X -- maybe exclusivity of brands within particular chains;
  • Automatized, robotized, impersonal, humanless;
  • More home delivery and customized consumer experience;
  • More high end and low-end retailers, ethnic supermarkets;
  • We’ll see better-educated management teams with a more rounded experience consisting of not only produce marketing but whole-sore experience and rich in team development and HR knowledge;
  • Will be more like Europe is now;
  • A more educated consumer will force retailers to provide them with more product information than they do now;
  • Consumer access to product sources and production methods;
  •  Increased home delivery;
  • Smaller format & unique experience; and 
  • Retailers will become destinations where ideas are nurtured and food is seen as a way of preventative maintenance for health and wellness.


TK:  The collective wisdom of the industry certainly calls for more online business and home delivery, but what form and function retail stores themselves take is open to several interpretations. Will it be a “customized experience” or less staff and impersonal? “ Destination stores” or low-end outlets? Or — as is so often the case with all talk of the future — a good bit of both?


How will produce retailing change in the next 25 years?