Connections, as well as ideas and insights from both inside and outside the produce and floral communities, were top of mind at the annual State of the Industry address at Fresh Summit. PMA CEO Cathy Burns shared her thoughts on demand creation, technology and talent management as these topics continue to evolve in the industry.
Personalized nutrition is giving way to consumer interest in DNA profiling to create individual health and lifestyle advice, and companies like Helix and Habit are offering kits that do just that.
Consumers are, according to Nielsen, increasing their purchases of certain fruits and vegetables to address specific health concerns. For example, households managing diabetes spend more on stone fruit, cherries, tomatoes and string beans.
Demand for plant-based diets is growing, from blended burgers on foodservice menus, to restaurants relegating meat to side dish status. It is estimated that by 2020, 47 percent of our protein will come from plants, closing the gap on animal proteins.
Consumers—especially millennials—continue to look for convenient at-home meals that are quick and easy to prepare, a trend which has fueled the meal kit sector. One in four U.S. adults has purchased a meal kit in the last year, and 70 percent continue to buy them after making their first purchase.
Third-party food delivery services are also catching on with consumers, who are now more inclined to stay at home to watch movies and TV shows on streaming on-demand services. Two-thirds agree restaurant delivery apps are more convenient than dining out with a family.
Millennials are also driving sales of organic foods, and seven of the top 10 organic categories can be found in the produce aisle.
Inspired marketing will be key in increasing preference for produce and floral. For example, Neiman Marcus last November sold three-pound packages of frozen collard greens for $66 per box, and they sold out. While a novelty item aimed at a select target market, this shows the power of a brand and how we can create perceptions of exclusivity and luxury around our products.
Celebrities, shoppers and the media already are giving our industry more attention. Consumers are looking for experiences, and we need to have a powerful, resonating voice where trends and culture are being set.
Food videos have overtaken health and beauty and pet videos in popularity on Facebook, with Buzzfeed’s Tasty channel getting over 500 million people each month watching recipe videos. Their point of view is telling: “99% of food media is made by food professionals, but 99% of food is made by amateurs.”
Filling the gap between perception and reality is what drives their success.
Technology is enabling unique retail experiences, such as artificial intelligence-controlled mobile grocery stores, and stores with touch-sensitive smart shelves that provide shoppers with detailed product information.
The Future Market has also introduced two-way communication screens that connect shoppers with nutritionists, chefs or farmers who can answer their questions while they’re in the store.
How are you leveraging technology to meet consumers where they are, today?
The UNICEF Kid Power fitness tracker converts steps into food donations for hungry children across the globe.
What if we incentivized activity with produce donations to food banks, or flowers to hospitals and rehabilitation facilities?
Finding reliable and affordable labor continues to be a challenge, and our industry has seen investment and growth in robotics and automation.
When it comes to innovation, how are you distinguishing between what’s best and what’s merely possible?
More than one-third of the skills considered important in today’s workforce will have changed in five years, according to a World Economic Forum report. Social skills such as emotional intelligence and development of and persuasion of peers will be in higher demand across our industries.
To drive our industry forward, we will also need specialized technical skills such as critical thinking, agronomy, artificial intelligence and genetics expertise.
Neurodiversity is a competitive advantage, and seeking out thinking styles of all types is critical. Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.
Culture is the No. 1 reason why employees leave a company, which is especially important when you consider that a strong employee experience drives a strong customer experience. Regardless of a worker’s generation, a strong employee experience is driven by meaningful work, supportive management, a positive work environment, growth opportunities and trust in leadership.
The Center for Growing Talent by PMA offers resources to address these employee experience factors through a suite of programs that spans the career continuum, from students to executives.
Does your people strategy provide opportunities for experiences to grow and make a positive impact in our industries? Are you expanding your talent strategy to embrace emerging fields?
Burns encouraged the audience to connect with people and ideas at Fresh Summit so that they can make their opportunities bigger and their problems smaller. After all, she said, "that's what PMA is all about."