I am still getting some insightful responses to my recent question:

 “What is the most under-reported issue in the fresh produce industry?”

Here are a few more to ponder:

RE: No doubt at all in my mind that the most under-reported issue is the impact of the forced increase in labor costs in the state of California. Since 2006, the cost of labor has risen 48%. However; table grape FOB’S for instance, have increased only 24% in the same period of time. How many commodity prices have kept pace with these labor cost increases? In the next 4 years alone, labor will rise a minimum of another 36%. Sustainability defined as staying in business will dictate FOB increases of at least 60% for table grapes. What about tree fruit, and all the row crops grown in CA. I don’t know about anyone else, but I believe the impact of of these cost of goods increases could be dramatic for any entity that touches fresh produce, much less consumes it. When thousands of acres of produce producing ground in California goes fallow in order to reduce supply to increase FOB’s...maybe it will be worth discussing.

MC: Long-term decline in fruit consumption as related to inconsistent quality

JC: Despite cheap food helping governments inflationary targets, the biggest under-reported issue is price promoted fresh food below the cost of production. It is morally wrong that milk can be sold cheaper than the price of water, it serves no real purpose. The biggest impact of this practice is it confuses the general public, they don’t know what is real, and what is the true cost, which then stagnates investment. We can now see this throughout our fresh produce sector where similar practices are present. So, there should be “control” to prevent fresh produce being sold less than the cost of production, which are limits agreed annually based on minimum labour costs, transport / logistics and efficient production..

Here are two more questions to ponder, both related to organic produce.

What is the “ceiling” for organic growth in fruit and vegetable production?
What are factors, if any, that could limit organic agriculture’s ability to keep expanding?

Organic challenges: For retailers, what are the most challenging aspects of growing organic produce sales?


TK: I’ve had great responses to both questions so far. Add your thoughts and I’ll revisit some of those views in this space.