To grow a healthier world, our industry can make new connections to ideas within and outside produce and floral. PMA CEO Cathy Burns shared some key insights about online opportunities, technology, industry talent, sustainability and culture.
1. Online Opportunities
With the third-party food delivery sector expected to reach $24.5 billion by 2022, apps like Instagram have added “take action” buttons to order food right from your smartphone.
In response, one food marketer is using AI, image learning, and interactive quizzes to study a user’s Instagram feed and make recipe suggestions.
Seventy-six percent of U.S. consumers purchased a product they discovered in a brand’s social media post; viewers also retain 95 percent of a message when they watch it on video, compared to 10 percent when reading it. Marketers should think about what this means for their video content and social channels.
In the consumer realm, global grocery sales through e-commerce channels increased 30 percent in the past year. Countries leading this growth charge were China, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and France. The U.S. experienced 5 percent growth.
Currently, only 28 percent of shoppers say they bought fruits and vegetables online, because produce bought through this channel falls short of meeting their standards for freshness and quality.
For some, they find joy in picking their own fruits, vegetables and fresh foods in store.
2. Robotics and Automation
From retail to foodservice, there is continued growth in robotics across our industry. For example:
- Robomart, an autonomous, mobile convenience store prototype was unveiled in the U.S.
- A restaurant named Creator features a completely automated burger-making robot.
- Spyce Foods robotic woks make custom grain bowls.
Robotic assistants, such as pollinators or wheelbarrows, help ease some of the challenges in finding both human, and non-human, help in the fields.
While high-tech experiences certainly provide a “wow” factor, human employees play an important role in providing a personalized, customized experience.
3. Talent in the Industry
A McKinsey Global Institute report found that by 2030, demand for technological skills will rise by 55 percent. Demand for social and emotional skills will rise by 24 percent.
Another study suggests that businesses are increasingly being judged based on their relationships with their workers, customers, communities, and impact on society.
Interestingly Millennials’ opinions about business’ motivations and ethics – which had trended up the past two years – decreased in 2018, as did their sense of loyalty. In 2018, only 48 percent of Millennials believe businesses behave ethically and 47 percent believe business leaders are committed to helping improve society.
Because of this, 43 percent of Millennials envision leaving their jobs within two years, while 28 percent seek to stay beyond five years. Gen Z respondents expressed even less loyalty, with 61 percent saying they would leave within two years if given the choice.
To keep these talented employees, employers should ensure they have meaningful work, career feedback, diversity, inclusion and flexibility.
In addition, both Millennials and Gen Z employee expect employers to provide education and training to keep their skills aligned with emerging technologies.
This is especially important as younger workers come to the marketplace with a special passion for innovation and making a meaningful difference in the world.
4. Sustainability Surges
While advances in tech are fundamentally changing how work gets done, who does it, and how it influences society, there is an expectation that these forces be channeled for the broader good.
Since sustainability beliefs have driven growth in plant-based foods, Clemson University researchers found that front-of-pack sustainability icons don’t draw shoppers in.
During a study that used mobile eye tracking, 92 percent of participants did not notice sustainability logos on the packages, despite more than 40 percent claiming sustainability influences their buying decisions.
Instead, they recommend a more effective way to engage consumers on sustainability is through integrated marketing and education – not simply via a logo.
5. Cultural Connections
We believe produce safety must be a cornerstone of an organization’s values, character and culture.
The industry’s mindset around produce safety must shift from a cost center to a cultural imperative. We have to approach produce safety differently. The things we have done in the past may no longer be appropriate going forward given our increased knowledge of the science and expectations of consumers.
We must adopt a “follow the science” philosophy that embraces emerging technologies and all the tools we have at our disposal.
PMA’s belief is that produce safety must be a cornerstone of an organization’s values, character and culture.
But just as important, we believe that it is those very values, character and culture that will determine how effective an organization's produce safety efforts are in the first place.
That's because produce safety isn't just an action; it's an attitude. Your produce safety program has to reflect your core beliefs.
Nothing short of doing the right thing -- always -- is sufficient.
We must also embrace emerging technologies to help us turn food safety from a reactive enterprise to a proactive approach where we use tech to prevent outbreaks.
While at the South By Southwest festival this year, PMA learned that others were leading OUR conversation around food and agriculture.
Even though we are popular, we have room and opportunity to increase fruit, veg and floral consumption for the health of our businesses and the world.
If we are going to grow a healthier world, we must continue to shape cultural influences and share the incredible work our industry does every day with a global audience.