When I go to Fruit Logistica, I feel like a kid in a candy store—the event activates a special kind of excitement and energy. I get a lot out of the show, and I value the opportunity it brings to build quality relationships and comradery with colleagues. The educational factor is another aspect that makes the show so impactful to me.
As I reflect on the show, there are four ideas that stand out in my mind that I’d like to share with you.
4 Takeaways from Fruit Logistica
- Global produce is driving changes to cold chain logistics.
As a global event—not just a European show—Fruit Logistica was attended by people from around the world. What’s more, those people hold positions throughout all areas of the supply chain—from ocean carriers, air carriers, and freight forwarders to packaging and temperature monitoring providers, from growers to wholesalers and retailers. It was meaningful to see that kind of diversity represented, and it provided a clear picture of the produce trends that span the globe. More and more, products that are produced in remote areas of the planet are being transported across borders and oceans to meet consumer demand. As that happens, it becomes even more critical to drive days—and even hours—out of the cold chain. We all operate in an increasingly competitive; increasingly, global, environment, and cold chain logistics must adopt to those changes. A large grocery retailer is experiencing this now. A U.S.-based membership warehouse club is in the process of opening its first store in Iceland. A large percentage of Icelanders are ponying up the membership fee to shop there, excited for the innovative store offerings that will reach their island. Unbeknownst to most of the population, however, is the significant supply chain adaptation that this one store will require. Consumers are excited and will reap the benefits of new offerings, and dozens of growers and logistics companies will again prove that anything is possible.
- Cold chain innovation is the unsung hero of produce.
Innovation is a big deal at Fruit Logistica. Most years, some new product, taste profile, packaging idea, or new use for an existing product wows attendees. But this year, the focus shifted to the logistics of getting all of those products to new geographies as quickly as possible, so products are as fresh and tasty as possible. When you think about it, innovation is in the unsung ways that products get to market, along every step of the cold chain. It’s all about perfecting the work behind the scenes—and everything that consumers don’t see—that greatly impacts taste, freshness, and experience. Improving the cold chain all comes back to innovation in ideas and execution.
- Third party logistics can bring significant value.
This conference brought to light a change in produce retail buyers’ perception of utilizing third parties. For some time, third parties were viewed as middlemen, perceived as added costs. Now, buyers are realizing that third party intermediaries can help make growers, the cold chain, and the end-to-end process better. In the history of the produce industry, third parties first seemed necessary, then a necessary evil, and now the perception is that a third party can bring significant value. It’s been an evolution of understanding.
- Everyone wants to do more with less.
I’ll provide one last trend around supply chain innovation that I saw while at the show in Berlin. Retailers and importers across the globe are looking to do more with less. Simultaneously, they are looking to source a broader range of products across a wider spectrum of geographies. The ability to do more with less requires collaboration with a wide array of relationships, like a well-tuned orchestra that is missing half of its players yet plays seamlessly into the night.
This post was co-written with Robert Walsleben, director of global sourcing, Europe, Robinson Fresh.
For more information on how Robinson Fresh brings innovation to the produce cold chain, feel free to reach out directly to us.