( Photo by The Packer staff )

As we look ahead to The Packer’s 125th anniversary publication, we have been posting some articles and columns from previous anniversary editions. 

I have immensely enjoyed the work of former staff and industry contributors.

From a 75th anniversary column by Palmer Mendelson, then president of San Francisco-based Mendelson-Zeller Co.:

“It is a real privilege to contribute to an article for the 75th anniversary of The Packer. Particularly is this a personal pleasure because I, myself, have been reading and advertising in The Packer for exactly 45 years. Congratulations to both of us.” 

His tongue-in-cheek predictions for the year 2000 touched on some frustrations of 1968, including the grape boycott and poor rail service for fresh produce. 

“In 1999 The Packer was full of pledges by the American railroads that in spite of the fact that they have no guaranteed schedules, they solemnly promise to deliver cars within 35 days from California to New York and if not — tough.”

He concluded:

“So to the year 2000, an election year. It promises to rival the famous and notorious 1968 for excitement even though the 75th anniversary of The Packer was a highlight of that year. Now that it is 107 years old most of us have become used to having it around.”

For a column in The Century of Produce publication, in 1993, The Packer’s Mike Glynn looked ahead with a piece called “Anything is Possible in Produce’s Future.”

He hits on famous missed and near-miss predictions of yesteryear:

“Unfortunately, prognosticating is a practice fraught with failures. Remember the high expectations for Metrication, Unitization and Modularization, better known as Project MUM? Remember growers’ forecasts of doom over immigration reform laws?

“Those weren’t the only predictions to miss their targets. Time magazine noted Admiral William Leahy advised President Harry Truman that ‘the atom bomb is the biggest fool thing we have ever done ... the bomb will never go off.’ And two years before the Kitty Hawk sputtered into a North Carolina sky, Wilbur Wright told his brother that man wouldn’t fly for 50 years.

“For produce the questions beckon: What technological wonders await? What regulatory hurdles loom? And what truly will be the next ‘kiwifruit’? If anything is probable about produce’s future, it is that many of the ordeals of yesterday and today will emerge again.”

Well said by Glynn, who touched on the recurring issues of consumer awareness of pesticide residues, an overwhelming flood of new products at retail and the persistent lack of marketing savvy by grower-shippers.

As we look back at the past 125 years and forward to the new days to come, we have invited the industry to fill out a survey on their own reflections and predictions. You can find it here.

Some industry challenges are bound to be carried over from one generation to the next. Frustrations will recur over the decades. 

Above all that, truly anything is possible in the industry’s future. Stay tuned for details.

Tom Karst is The Packer’s editor. E-mail him at [email protected].

Related content:
Century of Produce: Anything is Possible in Produce’s Future
Century of Produce: Fresh Strategies Mark Industry's Campaigns
75th Anniversary Edition: An Accurate (?) Projection of Things to Come
Century of Produce: Making of a Deal
Century of Produce: Sold at the Clack of a Gavel