The collective wisdom of the industry typically gets it right. 

If two heads are better than one, then dozens of opinions are that much superior compared with a solitary response.

The winding path of the fresh produce industry over the past 125 years has been chronicled by The Packer, and we have published editorial content from the coming 125th anniversary edition and also previously published articles from “A Century of Produce,” and The Packer 75th anniversary edition.

Previous blog posts have looked at industry responses The Packer’s 125th anniversary survey , including:

What is the future of produce wholesalers? Survey says..

If only my business had....

Blaming it on the fax; the biggest change agents in the past 25 years

Industry weighs in on changes to come in retailing

What’s the most important industry development?

Today, let’s look at the answers to this query from the survey:

Name the three most significant industry innovations or developments that will mark the next 25 years.


Here are the industry responses:

  • Compostable/Biodegradable Packaging; Drones/GPS technology in farm practices; hothouse/greenhouse technology;
  • Artificial intelligence applied to better manage farm resources like irrigation, pesticide application and labor utilization; Decrease in transit times as self driving allows for closer “trains” of vehicles on highways to reduce congestions and lower costs; Better understanding of genetics will increase the consumer desired attributes in fresh produce;
  • Automation for harvesting, delivery and food safety; Product Innovation - Breeding; Omni-channel and consumer experience;
  • A. Robotic farming in the tree fruit industry B. Packaging improvements that are truly recyclable C. Driverless trucking in dedicated lanes that helps alleviate driver shortages;
  • I believe that when organic produce is priced similar to conventional that will be a big leap forward; Plastic packaging becomes obsolete; Autonomous tractors delivering our produce;
  • Delivery to homes, Schools offering healthy food options,Consumers education;
  • 1. Automation 2. Water Conservation 3. Food safety;
  • Mechanical harvesting;
  • Hand held device to determine ripeness and flavor of fruit;
  • Home shelf-life enhancing containers which will reduce waste and spoilage (this is already available;
  • Improved food safety controls -Concerns about protecting the environment -Improving freshness and flavor which will stimulate an immediate repeat purchase;
  • Pay attention to what Rodale has done and will do;
  • Global tracking packaging on line sales;
  • ncreased production closer to the end user; Robotics advanced enough to harvest the most delicate crops; Brick and Mortar retail wins out over Ecommerce;
  • Mechanical harvesting, sustainability and GMO acceptance;
  • 1. Produce fully taking its place in food culture. 2. Ability to grow in diverse, even inhospitable, places (e.g. vertical farming in urban areas). 3. Solving the food safety issues;
  • Self-check/home delivery, facial recognition for human and things/applications, AI/IoT/5-6G;
  • AI and Machine learning; More robotics in the field; Utilization of microbiome as a means of utilizing resident beneficials;
  • Automation;
  • Continued global infusion of regionally off-season produce; Continued focus of what defines high quality produce; Merging of high tech and human innovation;
  • Online ordering; consolidation; automation;
  • 1. Enhanced and more thorough inspections of produce at the farms and distribution points. 2. Better interaction between shippers and retailers to reduce market glut, thus reducing market flood and giving the consumer a cheaper product;
  • Development of improved varieties through genetic modification, improved efficiency of cold chain management, improved trace back methods;
  • “Good yielding genetics that have flavor; More cpg & fresh collaborations at store level; Packaging improvements on shelf life and flavor quality enhancement through varietal improvements;
  • Elimination of zero tolerance for pathogens;
  • Big production in small spaces, breeding innovations and protection of water resources.

TK: The vision for innovations includes hopeful outcomes on automated harvest and driverless freight. Can the next 25 years indeed accomplish such giant leaps? Time will tell, but the industry responses also paint a hopeful picture of innovations in packaging, well-received genetic modification of fresh produce, advances in food safety, and more. I believe the collective industry wisdom is more than wishful thinking, so mark well these responses.