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FRUIT LOGISTICA, a global trade show serving the international fresh produce market, covers all facets of the business of foodservice in order to provide a comprehensive view of the innovations, products, and services along the international supply chain. The company also presents a trends report at the tradeshow, in addition to making it available to anyone via free download. The FRUIT LOGISTICA report provides several insightful findings, particularly for the food supply chain that drives this niche market.
For one, they found that retailers are challenged to create a team of passionate people to staff their stores. They need people who can actively sell to customers as well as take care of the shelves throughout the day. Thus, supply chain partners should be aware of this issue and search for ways to alleviate this challenge.
This passion can make all the difference, especially when seeking to forge an emotional connection with customers. Retailers make the claim that they are investing in educational programs to address the changing nature of store jobs. Many are also seeking to make these jobs more attractive to their staff.
The role of the worker in-store is changing: it used to be largely about filling shelves whereas it now also entails understanding the products on offer and being in a position to advise customers on their purchases.
Emerging differentiators of fruit and vegetable satisfaction. Source: FRUIT LOGISTICA Trend Report 2019
From early points in the supply chain right down to the employees who are closest to the customer have a stake in affecting the appeal of products to consumers. Employees must have new skills to present the food products in a way that provides the most interest to customers. Retailers want a passionate staff who will actively encourage customers to try something new.
How do you get store staff to respond in an appropriate way to customer needs and at the same time ensure they keep the shelves stocked? Supply chain partners may be able to see solutions that retailers can't. One solution would be to locate the last-mile shipments in a way that makes it easier to shelve the goods and ensure that they are packaged such that their warehouses and distribution centers can facilitate appeal to customers.
In the fruits and vegetables industry, like many others, there's a growing sentiment for greener practices. Consumers want their suppliers to be environmentally sound and use sustainable practices. Any stakeholder in the supply chain of fresh fruits and vegetables should be aware of these needs.
The report found that environmental commitment is becoming an important criterion in store selection in Europe. In the U.K., they found that 43% of consumers say their choice is shaped by how environmentally sustainable they believe the store to be. That figure is even greater for high-income families.
Increasing consumer awareness of food’s impact on the environment. Source: FRUIT LOGISTICA Trend Report 2019
Along with environmental concerns, sustainability plays into another aspect of food consumption: seasonality and locality.
"As food becomes increasingly associated with both identity and environmental sustainability, the specific questions of when and where food has been produced take on a new resonance. Consumers are turning to foods with lower environmental impact from sustainable sources; locally produced, grown in season."
However, the report stated that these demands are clearly not equally important to all consumers in all markets. Customers in certain countries, such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy, place a premium on the seasonality of their fresh fruit and vegetables. For others, locality plays a far more critical role, particularly those in countries like Germany and Switzerland who have strong regional identities around food.
Supply chain logistics often get tied up in operations, ROI, and profitability when finding the best ways to serve customers. But the FRUIT LOGISTICA trends report shows the importance of being mindful of the customers further down the supply chain: the warehouses, shippers, distributors, and produce wholesalers, as well as the end user. Even more importantly, knowing what they want and how they buy is critical to success. Understanding that presentation is important, or that environmental best practices and sustainability is valued, helps any supply chain vendor to find new and better ways to meet those needs. They may be able to find solutions and contribute to that effort.
Knowing the end-user, especially when it comes to the global market for fresh produce, enables the supply chain to be aware of what adds value nowadays. It’s fodder for their own innovation and investment as they try to compete with other suppliers and be of equal or greater value during a time of changing habits of the world’s everyday food buyer.
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