Who thought, ten years ago, that consumers would buy garden hoses and paint online?

Not me, yet I have purchased both items via Amazon.com in the last year. Shocking, I know.

What will the next ten years bring to my doorstep? Apples and oranges, perhaps?

We have blind spots about ourselves, our culture, our way of life and the very industry in which we live and breathe. We can’t say much about tomorrow let alone the far-off future.

It is hard to see beyond blindspots, those instincts of writing the story to fit our sense of the possible and reasonable.

We can make predictions, all right, but they can be ridiculous in hindsight. Witness this list of 25 “famously wrong” predictions

Here is a doozy from that list:

“The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty—a fad.” - -The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903

So predicting the future is an impossible job, but I gave the task to the LinkedIn Fresh Produce Industry Group and believe they acquitted themselves very well.

Here is the question and a few answers:

How will the produce industry look different in ten years?

Fast forward a decade what will be the same and what will change for growers, distributors, retailers and foodservice?


BB:  Ten years out? Climate change may have an influence on what/where produce is grown, NAFTA, whether we are still in or out (that seems to change daily with the current administration) , Immigration policies (will we be able to find enough workers and will costs change dramatically?) , the increase in pre-prepared foods (everything from bagged salads to suppliers like Blue Apron, etc.) and of course costs to the consumer... my end of the chain (transportation) will see changes in cost and availability of transport. I don’t have a crystal ball but there will be changes most of which will result in changes in availability and price to the consumer.

AT: Ten years from now the controlled environment (meaning the package around the product) will be key to effective and efficient delivery of fresh produce to the consumer via direct home delivery. The types of containers and the management of the cool chain to maximize the taste and texture will be key. The location of the producer will only be relevant as to the logistics necessary for distribution channels (hubs) making direct from any corner of the continent to a home possible and still have a quality eating experience.

RP: I think that home delivery will save our produce industry. Accessibility to variety without the worry of insufficient store labor to keep store conditions will make our products stand out digitally with more storytelling and video to help sell the product. It will be a disruptive change but as it occurs but we will eventually see consumption go up and the produce departments share of food dollars rise. New items will be easier to launch as we will avoid the issue of signage and promotion through digital capabilities. Targeting our potential shoppers will be easier too. We must increase consumption to succeed and this will be our path.

SM: I was just having this discussion with family today. Ten years from now we will see fewer crop dusters and more drones. In fact, drones may even replace ground rigs in some cases because of their speed, agility, ability to automate and the fact that they won’t compact the ground.  Freight will change dramatically and be more efficient as the dollars shift that way in the next 3-5 years. As the saying goes “ nothing fixes high prices like high prices”. 
Farms won’t be indoors, takes too much energy, but farms will be larger than today. This will be due to major consolidation that will begin within the next 3 years as a result of horrifically low commodity prices.

NH Unfortunately this day and time it seems the landscape has changed so much, it seems like departments that provide quick and convenient will be in charge and the fresh produce departments will become dinosaurs.




These comments from the thread (and several more I didn’t pull in here) all do a great job of leaving behind assumptions and looking at the future with an honest, open mind. At least nobody said Amazon.com is only a fad.