( Photo by The Packer staff )

As strange as it seems, millennials will someday be yesterday’s news.

As The Packer begins work on its 125th anniversary edition, I asked the LinkedIn Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group this question:

How is the produce industry now different than 25 years ago? How will it change in the next 25?

Of course, the topic of millennials and the clash of generations came up. Here are some excerpts from a point and counterpoint from the LinkedIn discussion.

“There is a great divide like I have not seen before in this generation’s work ethic, stamina, backbone and overall mindset...”

“My team leans heavily towards the millennial side, and my experience with them has been incredibly positive! Their motivations are definitely different to that of previous generations, but I find them to be very hard working and quite inspiring once they’re engaged with the vision/mission.”

“Just exchanged rants with a great colleague about ‘we veterans’ vs. ‘the millennial rookies’. We grew up with respect and reverence for the more experienced and now we need to bend over backwards to accommodate the youth...”

There is much more in the discussion thread about changes to buying and selling, industry structure, private equity, retail consolidation and more over the last quarter century. But millennials do grab the attention, am I right?

By the way, the first of 177 stories in The Packer’s archive about the millennial generation was published in 2003. Here is an excerpt — again point and counterpoint — pulled from The Packer’s coverage of a Produce Marketing Association Retail Produce Solutions Conference.

The good news is that they’re optimistic about the future, they’re more conventional in their social outlook and they’re more loyal to brands. The bad news is that if generational cycles in American history hold true, then produce marketers will have to weather a world crisis and depend upon the millennial generation to solve it.

With an intent to reflect about the past and look forward to the future (Generation Z, anyone?) The Packer will publish its 125th-year-anniversary edition later this year.

When “Century of Produce” was published in 1993, we identified 100 industry leaders who made a difference since the publication began in 1893.

In the past 25 years, who are some of the people you think of as influential produce personalities who made a difference? Please send me your thoughts at tkarst@farmjournal.com.

Tom Karst is The Packer's editor. Find insights and updates from him throughout the week on the Fresh Talk blog. 

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Then and now: Reminiscences of a Packer Man - in 1923
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