( The Packer )

Rarely has the produce industry less predictable than it is now.

Just today I asked the LinkedIn Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group this question: 

What is the biggest uncertainty the industry will face as it emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic?

Here are a couple of thoughtful replies so far:

MM: The long-term impact to consumer behavior is a big uncertainty. Both producers and retailers could face changing product demands. For example, micro-markets have emerged in the last decade. Consumers have been demanding new flavors and varieties from new locations around the world. Will this growing trend pick up where it left off post-Covid 19? Or will consumer spend move back towards staples as it has during the pandemic?

Specifically for retailers, another question is will consumers continue to purchase large baskets and shop less frequently? Or will they move back to smaller, more frequent shops like in the pre-pandemic days. Depending on the answer to this question, essential elements like the labor model, holding capacity, delivery days and even assortment may need to change. In a low margin business like grocery retail, getting these essential elements right could mean the difference between profit and loss.

JD: It is interesting to see the comment regarding being out of their comfort zone. It is true in most countries that the government lack the required skill sets to deal with crisis in food supply. Fresh Produce and Food businesses are well aware of the risk factor and also crisis management required to step up in these circumstances. Hope that in the future governments consult more with industry experts and LISTEN, to help avoid situations such as this in the future.

TK: I would welcome your thoughts on the question.  I agree that potential behavior change by consumers does loom very large, for retailers, yes, but even more for restaurants. 



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