Taste is King

Delivering Successful Produce with Tech

With the current supply chain issues, enjoying fresh and nutritious produce is more costly and difficult than ever before.

Consumers demand consistency, which hasn’t been possible with traditional methods. But technology is enabling producers to deliver great value and the best possible eating experience.

Kaitlin Fitzgerald is the VP of Sustainability at one of IFPA’s Fresh Field Catalyst winners, Sound Agriculture. They’re passionate about building a better and more sustainable food system.

Dorn Wenninger, Senior VP Produce at UNFI, is her mentor in our program and an industry expert with over 30 years of experience in the field.

Join us as we discuss:

  • The qualities buyers expect from their produce and how tech makes this possible
  • How providing consistency and a great experience increases repeat business
  • Partnerships, packaging, and produce branding
  • Taste, freshness, and affordability

Technology is becoming a crucial driver for delivering the value customers crave — let’s dig deeper!

If we want to have a sustainable food system, we're going to need to innovate and create technologies that can do these tasks.

Teric Greenan



On-demand crop solutions

An alumna of the University of Notre Dame as well as Harvard Business School, Kaitlin has been with Sound Agriculture for two thrilling years.

She started her career in the hallowed halls of finance but moved into strategic planning with a sojourn to Lagos, Nigeria. Pivoting to product marketing and business development, Kaitlin built an impressively well-rounded resume that landed her in the VP of Sustainability seat.

Sound Agriculture’s main mission is to create solutions that leverage the inherent genetic traits of the plant without using GMOs. Their approach is fast, cost-effective, and customer-centric.

In their goal to breed a better tomato, Kaitlin says “we’re using on-demand breeding to extend the window of peak flavor and shelf life” of rich heirloom varieties to allow for more versatility and durability when it comes to facing supply chain challenges.

Key consumer trends

When bringing any product to market, it’s critical to know your buyer’s pain points and what they want and need to solve their issues.

Kaitlin and Sound Agriculture are addressing several vital consumer demands:

  • Snackable produce
  • Sustainable growing practices
  • Better flavor
  • Longer shelf life

"The number one attributes that customers look for is freshness and consistency," as Dorn points out. A produce industry expert for over three decades, Dorn is a fluent Spanish speaker and MBA who’s worked in the UK, Malaysia, and Mexico.

I want more people to grow vegetables so that it's more accessible for the public. If we can create technologies that help farmers produce affordable crops, that's my number one concern.

Teriuc Greenan



Great eating quality

It all comes down to ensuring a completely enjoyable eating experience every time.

That’s what keeps coming customers back to buy your product. Kaitlin stresses how working with focus groups and customer panels helps Sound Agriculture determine the value propositions and attributes of their produce.

She realized that while the visual appeal is an important factor in attracting shoppers, as “consumers buy with their eyes,” her tomato was far superior in flavor.

What’s the most effective way to cut down on customer trial and error and make your product stand out?

Partnerships, packaging, and branding

Emerging agritech is making sustainable food choices more ubiquitous and more affordable for the average consumer.

The perceived cost-to-value ratio is the main roadblock to produce sales in today’s grocery stores. People don’t want to spend a lot of money on a fruit or vegetable that might not meet their taste expectations.

Partnering with retail outlets guarantees customers have consistent access to education about their choice of delicious and unique produce. “Local” and “organic” are the Holy Grail for product packaging in this industry, and the easiest for shoppers to understand.

Kaitlin mentions that people need three core elements to change their behavior:

  • Motivation
  • Ability
  • Trigger impulse

She believes that technology is unlocking this equation to educate and influence consumers and drive demand.

What we want to do is bring the technology forward and have as many people as possible see it — and see that it works.

Luc Labbe



Taste is king

Dorn puts it perfectly: “If a product doesn’t taste good, people aren’t going to buy it.”

Introducing innovations is what drives per capita consumption forward. Brand awareness, flavor, sustainability, nutrition, and affordability — these are the aspects that Dorn and Kaitlin are focusing on and leveraging with the latest technology.

The pandemic has brought health and wellness back to the forefront while inflation has made consumers feel the pinch in the produce aisle.

However, Dorn is “bullish on produce in the medium and long term. There’s no doubt in my mind that it will outpace other growth industries.” But in the short term, bringing down price points is absolutely critical.

The Fresh Field Catalyst

The IFPA is dedicated to increasing the accessibility and consumption of healthy fresh produce.

Our Fresh Field Catalyst is a technology accelerator designed to bring together innovative startups and market experts from around the world to develop practical solutions to major sector challenges such as labor shortages, resource scarcity, and climate change.

Kaitlin states that the immersive program is “an amazing experience,” with incredible access to industry thought leaders and offering invaluable mentorship and networking opportunities.

To hear all the freshest interviews in the produce industry, subscribe to Fresh Takes on Tech on Apple, Spotify, or your preferred podcast platform.

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