The Fruit Logistica show in Berlin, Germany, is one of the most massive perishable spectacles on the planet. Held every year in early February, Fruit Logistica is a gathering of more than 70,000 attendees and almost 2,900 exhibitors from 84 countries.
It is nearly impossible to cover every inch of the show during the three-day period, but in that time, three lessons emerged which underscore the global nature of our business.
The Importance of Logistics in the Perishable Marketplace
The globalization of fresh produce has created complex, nomadic, and fragmented supply chains, which in turn intensifies the value proposition of fresh produce logistics. It’s important for retailers to have relationships with companies that own components of the supply chain and not necessarily the ground the product comes from. The fact is, you can exhibit best practices at the farm level, but if you don’t have the proper cold chain in place to move your product 10,000 kilometers to where your customers are, problems will arise.
The United States Often Leads the Way in Produce Trends
Fashion trends typically flow from Europe to the United States. Designs European men or women are wearing today, U.S. consumers want tomorrow. However, from a fresh fruits and vegetables perspective, trends quite often are flowing the other way.
For example, the United States started a switch to sweet potatoes as a dominant commodity at restaurants because of their healthy attributes. Today in Europe, sweet potatoes have had massive growth rates over the last five years, as their use is just starting to catch on.
Limes may be best known as an additive to drinks, yet according to IRI, year over year from 2011-2015, limes have seen 10.3% growth as consumers find more ways to use them in recipes. In Europe, it’s less popular to cook with limes, but as they start to be looked at as part of the meal, instead of merely something that is put into a drink, you’ll see consumption rates start to increase.
These kinds of commodity examples will continue as retailers work to stay ahead of the latest consumption trends, allowing them to meet the consumer where they want to buy.
The Emergence of New Geographic Growing and Trading Lanes
Retailers know full well that the grower or region they are working with today may not be the relationship they have five years from now. Ten years ago, Peru wasn’t heard of as a major exporter of agricultural goods. Today, as we heard and saw at Fruit Logistica, it’s one of the fastest growing agricultural countries in the world.
Geo-political activity, currency fluctuations, and new trade agreements are even harder to predict, but can have immediate consequences. Imagine running a growing operation in France or Spain, and the country where your largest export trading relationship resides has suddenly shut down imports due to a political or military event.
At the end of the day, it’s important to stay in front of all these trends by working with your supply chain providers and to manage relationships with growers across the world to help ensure supply meets demand. Global events are moving faster all the time, and it is imperative to be aware of them so you can compete in the global marketplace.