For every event, we write an introduction for the show directory. It is designed, of course, to welcome attendees and thank them for coming.
It also provides a good update about the development of these industry institutions that we’ve been so fortunate to be involved with. So, we thought we would reprint here the welcome letter that we wrote for The London Produce Show and Conference.
We expected some period of uncertainty when the Brexit vote was tallied in 2016. We didn’t think it would drag on, as it has, with an extension and whatnot. Even today, as we write this, it is unclear what will happen and when it will happen…
Three years ago, working with the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC), we decided to offer a guide to Brexit, a special FPC seminar that would let the industry know how to manage the process. We didn’t expect that three years on, we would still be saying “We have to wait to see!”
One would think this is bad tidings for the largest and most important trade show for the produce industry in the United Kingdom! The situation with Brexit is defined by the word ‘uncertainty’, and if there is one thing business hates, it is uncertainty. Some pull back on investment, and try to adopt defensive postures.
And yet... it is always the case that in the flummox of uncertainty lies opportunity. Those who will be prepared to seize that opportunity are the ones learning, networking and exploring right now. Of course, what better way… what better place… to learn, to network and engage in that exploration than at an event such as this.
Indeed, your very presence here indicates you are one of the people — and your organisation one of the organisations — that is smart enough to realise that today is preparatory for tomorrow.
For us, here at The London Produce Show and Conference, we have kept a ‘stiff upper lip’ and have moved ahead through this uncertainty, and we have quietly built something really extraordinary. We started with the show, educational seminars, chef demos and networking events. Then we added the Foodservice Forum, a fullday educational and networking event that focuses on the opportunity to increase produce consumption by using the wonderful trial options available in catering, while celebrating the transformation of the UK restaurant scene with London now recognised as one of the great culinary cities of the world.
Then, working with Nigel Jenney and the great team over at the Fresh Produce Consortium, we added the “Trading with the UK Seminar,” a half-day programme specifically addressing the challenges and opportunities that Brexit may offer to those looking to trade with the UK.
This year, we launch a new event, the Global Grape Summit, an unparalleled gathering of the best and brightest from around the world — a true Summit of the people who make the global grape business happen. This full-day programme is rich with information and insights that will determine the course of sub-stantial investments in the world of grapes.
It is not surprising that buyers, shippers and supply chain executives are attending from six continents — everybody wants to be in the room where it happens!
These are just the public events happening during this conference. Just as London, one of the world’s iconic cities, draws business and tourism from around the globe, so The London Produce Show and Conference has quietly become the place to hold important meetings and events. Sometimes, these events are public knowledge. So, for example, this year, we are honoured to have Freshfel Europe holding its 2019 Annual Event in connection with The London Produce Show and Conference. This event, themed, “Building opportunities for fresh produce in an unpredictable business environment,” brings many leading produce industry executives from across the continent of Europe to London.
In addition, we are also hosting the International Federation for Produce Standards in London. This group is composed of national produce associations from around the globe. From Norway to New Zealand, the membership is focused on improving the supply chain efficiency of the fresh produce industry through developing, implementing and managing harmonised international standards.
You can listen to Tom Stenzel, President and CEO of the United Fresh Produce Association in America, as part of our Thought Leader Breakfast Panel on Thursday morning. When you see Tom or some of the other global leaders of the produce industry on the show floor, we hope you will extend a greeting and thank them for coming to London.
In addition, there are many corporate meetings on the national, trans-Atlantic and global scale for the buy, sell and supply chain sides of the business being held in conjunction with the show. Keep us in mind if your organisation might find value in gathering with us in London in years ahead. We will help make it happen.
In fact, in a very quiet and cumulative way, The London Produce Show and Conference is increasingly a place where serious people, doing important things, gather to build a better industry.
It has been an absolute privilege to help build this industry institution. What will happen with Brexit I do not know. But I do know that whatever the future brings, those who engage with us here in London will be better prepared to face the future than those who stay home.
I want to thank our team, our sponsors, the exhibitors and attendees, our friends at the Fresh Produce Consortium — all who have chosen to engage with us and build this event. We know that, as an industry, we are stronger when we stand together, and each individual, each organisation, can be more successful by being here in London, where so very much is happening.
Please pull me aside and say hello. There is no value greater than that which comes from strengthening existing relationships and establishing new ones.
Of course, you can do more than read about it by actually attending.
You can register right here!
Hope to see you in London.
Before the trade show, each year, we have a breakfast and a panel. The Perishable Pundit Thought-Leader Panel gathers together important, influential and insightful people from across the globe. The purpose: To advance the industry through thoughtful discussion of important industry issues and to open the minds of attendees as they go into the formal conference and expo.
This year’s panel hails from four continents. Its members represent the powerful retail and foodservice sectors that pull demand, NGO leadership and a consumer influencer of the highest order. It is a great privilege to reveal the Perishable Pundit Thought-Leader Panel for the 2019 edition of The London Produce Show and Conference:
THURSDAY JUNE 6, 2019 | 07.30 – 09.15
TV Personality & Cookbook Author
London Produce Show Ambassador
Through her work in professional restaurant kitchens, as a food television personality and an author, New Jersey, USA-born Amanda Freitag has become more than a chef, she is known as ‘The Chef Next Door’ — the title of her first cookbook, launched in 2015.
Since 2008, Amanda has been a judge on Chopped, the hit series aired on US television channel Food Network. In May 2015, she launched her own show concept on Food Network, called American Diner Revival with co-host Ty Pennington.
Amanda has worked at some of New York City’s most popular restaurants, including Cesca — where she cooked alongside Tom Valenti as his chef de cuisine and earned two stars from The New York Times in 2003; Gusto in the West Village – where as executive chef her Italian food was met with critical acclaim; and The Harrison in TriBeCa, which received numerous accolades under her direction as executive chef.
Amanda is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. She has travelled extensively through France and Italy, which has given her a deep appreciation of Mediterranean ingredients and flavours.
Senior Buying Manager for
Tropical, Exotic & Stone Fruit
Clare Linstead is the Senior Buying Manager for Tropical, Exotic & Stone Fruit at Morrisons. She is an experienced international food sourcing specialist with 12 years’ experience in the movement of ambient and perishable foodstuffs, having also held commercial roles at global logistics giant DHL Supply Chain.
Clare has transformed and optimised supply chains to the UK from Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa, across key commodity areas such as: Pasta, Rice, Tea, Coffee, Sugar, Pork, Beef and Poultry.
In 2016, Clare joined Morrisons’s produce trading team where she has led the company’s international direct sourcing strategy; improving key metrics such as: profitability, quality, consistency, freshness and availability. She has also been a key proponent in the development of Morrisons’s Social Responsibility & Sustainability strategy in the produce sector.
George Liu is the founder of Frutacloud, having previously spearheaded e-commerce and payment projects while serving in positions at both Amazon and Google. He is a graduate of Northwestern University in the US, with a Master’s degree in Computer Science.
In 2016, George established Frutacloud as a subsidiary of the Kingo Fruits Group for the purpose of serving the rising e-commerce and ‘New Retail’ segments in China.
With Kingo’s 30 years of experience and with George’s innovative approach to the business, Frutacloud has become a leading brand to procure, market, and distribute fresh fruit from around the world to the Chinese market.
George’s ultimate mission is to make healthy lifestyles more accessible to everyone in an environmentally sustainable way.
Category Buyer for Grapes and Stone Fruit
Phil Macy has worked for 27 years at Sam’s Club, an US chain of membership-only retail warehouse clubs that are owned and operated by Walmart. During that time, he has spent 24 years with Sam’s Produce.
Currently, Phil is responsible for the chain’s table grape and stonefruit categories. In his role, he is a great advocate of flavor, quality, and the best grape varieties
President and CEO
United Fresh Produce Association
Tom Stenzel is President and CEO of the United Fresh Produce Association in the USA, a position he has held since 1993. Founded in 1904, United Fresh represents the interests of companies throughout the global fresh produce supply chain, and serves to shape legislative and regulatory policies; providing scientific and technical leadership in food safety and nutrition; and developing educational programs for its members.
Tom has served in many US government and industry leadership positions. Currently, he is a member of the US Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100 leading association executives, the Advisory Board of the International Food Protection Training Institute, and the Key Industry Associations Committee of the American Society of Association Executives.
Tom is a frequent speaker on industry issues, and has been recognized often by the produce industry throughout his career.
Fresh Direct Group
Over 28 years in Foodservices, starting his career with an entrepreneurial family foodservice business supplying the ethnic caterers and his last role was Managing Director at Brakes, UK’s leading broadliner. Raj was appointed Group CEO of the fresh businesses (Fresh Direct Group — produce, seafood, dairy and deli) in Sept 2017, post the Sysco acquisition from Bain Capital.
Raj joined Brakes in 1998 and has successfully led every part of the UK broadline business. Roles have included MD Independent, MD Corporate and MD Speciality businesses. He has also headed the category, pricing, marketing and technical functions.
Entrepreneurial in his approach, customer centric with a track record of building strong teams and succession.
Raj spent his early years in India and after graduating from the University of Bombay came to the UK for his MBA. Outside of work Raj enjoys food, travelling, cricket and spending time with his family.
Tania van der Merwe
Tania van der Merwe is the head buyer of stonefruit, table grapes and berries at Freshmark, which is a division of Shoprite Checkers, a supermarket group in South Africa. She has spent her career at the group focusing on the domestic and import supply chain of these fruit categories. Tania oversees the procuring and buying of more than 15,000 tonnes of fruit annually that is destined for distribution to over 1,300 U-Save, Shoprite, Checkers & Checkers Hyper stores in 15 countries on the African continent.
Director Category Management
Stephan Weist is National Category Director fruit, vegetable, flowers and plants for REWE, one of the leading and most innovative supermarket chains in Germany. He is also Brand Manager for Rewe Regional, the company’s cross-category brand for all regional products. He studied Economics at the University of Cologne (VWA) and is an alumni of INSEAD. Stephan started his career as a trainee at REWE in 1984 and was a buyer for overseas, exotics and organic fruits before moving to Chiquita in the year 2000. As Managing Director, he managed the development of Chiquita’s non-banana business for Northern Europe before taking on total responsibility for Chiquita’s D-A-CH (German-speaking European region) as Business Director. In 2009 he joined Landgard, Germany’s largest produce and flower producing cooperative, where he headed up the fruit, vegetable, organic and convenience divisions as Managing Director, while seeing through a successful restructuring period. Stephan returned to Rewe in 2014 and his current role. This summer, Stephan was elected as President of Freshfel, the European Fresh Produce Association, the industry’s representative body in Brussels, Belgium.
Senior Category Manager Fruit,
Vegetables and Flowers,
Maria Wieloch is the Senior Category Manager for fruit, vegetables and flowers at ICA, the market leading supermarket chain in Sweden. Maria joined ICA in 2008, and since then she has held several different positions within the retailer’s fruit, vegetables and flowers business.
Before her current position, Maria was the Head of Business Development at ICA, where she looked after issues such as sustainability, among others.
Maria graduated in economics and management from Lund University in Sweden in 2004. Before joining ICA in 2008 she worked in the paper and packaging industry for SCA Packaging, which has since become DS Smith.
Maria has been a keynote speaker at The Amsterdam Produce Show and Conference and The New York Produce Show and Conference. She also participated on the Thought Leaders Breakfast Panel at The London Produce Show and Conference 2018, where she accepted, on behalf of ICA, the award for Best International Initiative for Marketing Fresh Produce to Children for 2018.
Success depends on an open mind and a willingness to absorb different perspectives, from different people… serious people, who themselves have been exposed in different ways to different ideas. Come join our Thought-Leader Breakfast and engage with high-level people and high-level ideas.
Open your own mind to new and better ways to progress, for yourself, for your organization and for the industry as a whole.
Come to The London Produce Show and Conference!
Here is the website.
You can register for the event right here.
If you have any questions or need help please let us know right here.
Kantar is always useful in its gathering of data and insightful in its analysis. We’ve been fortunate to have Kantar share its insights at many of our events including in workshops we wrote about here:
10 DATA-RICH INGREDIENTS TO OMNI-CHANNEL SUCCESS — Kantar Worldpanel To Highlight Fresh Data At Amsterdam Produce Summit
Kantar Worldpanel Execs Present Produce Case Studies Demonstrating Power Of Data At Global Trade Symposium Co-Located With The New York Produce Show And Conference
Chris Cowan Of Kantar Worldpanel UK Shares His Data-Strong Insights On The Future Of Produce Retailing At The London Produce Show And Conference
Now Joe Shaw Roberts, Consumer Insights Director for Kantar Worldpanel, will be presenting a piece of research that will kick off a panel titled Consumer Response To New Varities, facilitated by yours truly!
We asked Matthew Ogg, contributing editor at Produce Business and ProduceBusinessUK.com, to find out more about this research:
Joe Shaw Roberts
Consumer Insight Director
Q: At the Global Grape Summit to start a session on new varieties, you’ll be presenting the results of a study done at Kantar. Could you please tell me about that?
A: Firstly it’s based on two methodologies — the first is our core product, which is a purchase panel representative of Great Britain buying behavior in the grocery market, and then from that we have a subset of that sample who also fill out a consumption diary uncovering reasons behind consumption of groceries, so that’s where the grape information comes from.
Q: And how often do you conduct these studies?
A: We collect the sample continuously and publish our data to the city every month, and we have a syndicated client base who buy into that sample.
Q: And what are some of the key figures and statistics you’ve found with regards to grape industry trends?
A: An interesting stat to kick things off is that grapes feature in 10 percent of all fruit consumption occasions, so whenever we’re eating fruit in the home, grapes feature at 10 percent of those occasions on average.
Q: That’s impressive. How does that compare to how it used to be?
A: That’s growing. And if we break it down by types of occasions, breakfast is really key to grape performance; that’s up 16 percent year-on-year. Also driving growth is carried-out lunch, which is up 9 percent, and for both of those meal times grape growth outstrips total fruit.
Q: Where do grapes rank compared to other high-growth items?
A: Thinking about the biggest fruit winners throughout 2018, bananas are top and then berries and currants are also very strong performers. Actually if we’re thinking about the top five fruit winners, grapes don’t even feature; you’ve also got kiwifruit, pears and melons that perform ahead of grapes. Nonetheless, grapes are still growing.
Q: So table grapes are a major feature in households. This panel you’re going to be kick-starting with your presentation will be talking about varieties — what have you found in that regard and how important is that for driving the category?
A: It’s really important. Thinking long-term going back to 2015, white grapes are in decline of 3 percent, whereas red grapes are in growth of 4 percent, and if we go to the less well-known varieties, black is in strong growth and mixed is in strong growth as well. The long-term growth of grapes is driven by the non-standard varieties.
Q: But as I understand it, white is such a major part of the grape basket historically. Is that to say red, black and mixed are cannibalizing that demand?
A: You‘re right in some of that. There is some consumer spend switching from white grapes to other varieties, particularly red and black; however, those varieties are also adding some additional growth to the category and not just switching spend around.
Thinking about the reasons for grape consumption, health is really key, and that’s grown over the years, so 86 percent of grape consumption moments are chosen for health, which is above total fruit. People are clearly thinking grapes are a particularly healthy option within fruit to choose.
Q: How does that compare to people citing health as a reason for eating fruit generally?
A: That’s on an index of 107, so about 80 percent. That’s a pretty significant difference versus fruit, but interestingly our consumption as a nation for health reasons is slowing, mainly because we’ve got a bit of economic uncertainty. Therefore, the need to find other reasons to make consumers choose grapes is more relevant now than ever.
Q: That uncertainty comes from numerous factors obviously, including Brexit, of course, which we hear about constantly. Is that having any impact on grape consumption itself?
A: Grape consumption is up — I wouldn’t draw a link between Brexit and grape consumption generally. The effect the economic uncertainty is having on our consumption in general however is quite interesting, so there’s a bit of the lipstick effect going on, i.e., treating ourselves with snacks in the home more often as opposed to having a big meal, and that’s an opportunity where grapes can look to drive further growth because grapes are behind total fruit in terms of snacking occasions.
Q: I think that’s something grape traders can take inspiration from. What are some other topics you’ll be discussing at the event in London?
A: I’ll be talking about the long-term growth of grapes and how it fits in with the wider produce industry. I’ll do a bit of scene-setting, and to give you a few flavors of what that might entail, it’s similar to the total grocery landscape. The discounters — Aldi and Lidl — are taking up a lot of share of the market over the last five years and doing really well, and that’s subsequently deflated the market a little bit. So it’s about where can the big four retailers — Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s — find growth.
There’ll be a bit of general engagement with produce being up, so grapes being in a good position because our engagement with total whole head produce is stronger than it ever has been. I’ll be talking about health and general health trends and how grapes can fit into that, and reasons for health consumption. We’re looking to eat more five-a-day, and grapes can benefit from that with clearer on-pack messaging.
Price will be mentioned as well, with all the factors affecting price in the total produce industry, ranging from genuine inflation to sectors with higher average prices and growth — the growth of premium ranges and promotional cutbacks — and I’ll be touching on the success or lack thereof for tertiary brands in produce, and getting people to think about that’s something that could happen in grapes.
There’s an interesting backdrop going on in the U.K. of your standard core own-label produce often being replaced by an imitation brand at a lower price with some kind of claim to be direct from the farm, so that’s a clever marketing ploy. And what that’s done is help the big four retailers claw back a bit of lost share to the discounters. However, it has subsidized their own shoppers‘ spend. So I’ll be examining that for some other categories and encouraging people to think about the effect that could have on grapes.
Q: It’s particularly relevant in light of the fact many grape growers are taking on proprietary varieties, and in order to pay off the associated licenses, they need a premium. So how much are premiums under threat from these conditions?
A: That’s a really good point because if we look at the factors influencing grape performance, we’re seeing massive price deflation.
Just looking at average price — which is affected by a number of things such as absence of promotions or more promotions, pack sizing, economy tiers, which have been growing quite substantially over the years — that’s led to lower prices, and yes there’s been growth through other areas but there’s always that price factor holding the category back.
One thing I’m going to be exploring is whether we play on some messaging around health, which generally commands a premium — and we know grapes are generally chosen for health often - in order to charge a bit more.
Q: I’m sure the industry will be able to take a lot out of that. Is there anything else you’d like to underscore in the lead-up to the event?
A: It’ll be a backdrop of the U.K. produce industry with a focus on grapes. I’d encourage any major fruit or veg suppliers — even if they’re not involved in grapes — to come along and listen to the themes.
As an American, we find it interesting that this study points to such great importance for health as a motivator to eating grapes. We haven’t seen an actual study, but our impression is that, in the US, although fruit has a generally healthy perception and certainly is perceived as healthier than most non-fruit snacks, such as cookies and chips, we don’t sense that grapes have a strong health appeal beyond that. Yes, there has been some attention to resveratrol (LINK), but that has been heavily associated with red wine and, to a large extent, discredited.
Pomegranates, blueberries, kale – all seem to have been recognized for specific health benefits in a way less common with grapes.
The other issue for all fruit is that the big growth in Paleo and Keto diets has redefined “healthy” for many consumers and is leading some consumers to avoid fruit all together.
We are also fascinated by the findings that breakfast is a fast-growing eating occasion for grapes – again, not something we have seen much evidence for in the states.
This is a fascinating piece of research, and the panel discussion will be intriguing. And, in this case, much of what we are talking about when analyzing proprietary grape varieties is also much about the future of the whole produce industry as the industry transitions to age of proprietary varieties.
We hope you will join us in London to hear this important Kantar presentation and to engage with the intersection of consumer action and new varieties.
The website for the Global grape summit is here.
The website for The London Produce Show and Conference is here.
You can register just for the Global Grape Summit here.
or for both the Global grape summit and The London produce show and conference here
if you have questions or need help please let us know here.
When we launched The London Produce Show and Conference back in 2014, one of our key insights was that the market had changed. Global produce exporters thought of the market as consisting of four big retailers, but they missed the retail fragmentation with companies such as Lidl and Aldi taking big market share. They missed a vibrant wholesale sector with companies such as Poupart Imports focused on importing for these important companies, and they neglected the important foodservice sector with companies such as Reynolds and Fresh Direct (UK) focused on procuring for this growing sector.
We always thought the foodservice, or catering sector as it is typically called in the UK, was especially important because it held the opportunity to help dramatically boost produce consumption both in foodservice and by using the sampling function that the foodservice industry serves.
So, spinning off our long-running Ideation Fresh Foodservice Forum, which has long run in New York, we created a Foodservice Forum in London. This is our 4th year, and each year it has grown as a fulcrum to think through how fruits and vegetables can play a bigger role in diets and thus boost purchases.
We are proud to announce the agenda for the 4th Annual Foodservice Forum, co-located with The London Produce Show and Conference:
FOODSERVICE INDUSTRY CONFERENCE:
Wednesday June 5, 2019
Transforming Foodservice Through Technology & Trends
This year’s programme will uncover the ways in which technology and trends are truly transforming the foodservice industry in the UK. We’ll look at the eating out market in focus; the impact of modern technology on customers and operators; the power of plant-based eating, veganism and vegetarianism; the next star product in fresh produce; and how the supply chain can work better together. By understanding how all of these factors are set to shape the business over the next decade, attendees will go away fully prepared to ensure they remain relevant and competitive in this thriving market.
08.30 – Registration and Welcome Refreshments
09.00 – The Welcome
A warm welcome to The Foodservice Forum 2019 delivered by Ken Whitacre, EVP-Publishing Director at Produce Business magazine, and the event’s host Jason Danciger, Managing Director of Hana Group UK, which is the operator of the Sushi Gourmet, Genji and Mai brands, among others.
09.15 – THE MARKET IN FOCUS – EXPERT INSIGHT INTO UK EATING OUT & DRINKING TRENDS
Founder & Strategic Advisor
Having recently authored ‘The Future of Foodservice 2025-2030’ report, and with over 30 years’ experience in the foodservice/hospitality industry, Simon is expertly placed to advise on what will happen in the sector. During this introductory session, Simon will provide a detailed analysis of the current state of the UK foodservice market and its future projection with the most up-to-date market statistics. In particular, Simon will focus on the key factors and mega trends that will shape the industry over the next 11 years, such as the influence of technology.
10.30 – THE INNOVATOR – Q&A WITH BILL COLLISON,
FOUNDER OF BILL’S
Host Jason Danciger will conduct a special Question & Answer session with foodservice guru Bill Collison, the founder of the hugely popular casual dining chain Bill’s and a former grower. Jason will get the inside track on Bill’s career to date, how his restaurant chain continues to remain relevant, and the important emphasis the business places on revitalising and revolutionising the use of fresh produce in its menus, as it promotes more veg-based options.
11.15 – Networking break
11.45 – THE IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY
Technology is changing the face of the foodservice industry right across the world. Today, customers can benefit from cashless restaurants, menu personalisation, and waste apps, while operators have at their disposal new gadgets to improve efficiencies. Listen to short, sharp presentations from a diverse range of foodservice market operators on their use of new technology, and how it is shaping their businesses now and in the future.
Vita Mojo International LTD
Senior Trading Manager
12.45 – Networking Lunch
13.45– THE POWER OF PLANTS
The growing desire to eat more plants continues unabated in the UK, as veganism, vegetarianism and plant-based eating tick the boxes for consumers concerned with their health and the environment. During this panel discussion, leading lights from the UK restaurant scene discuss the impact on their menus, their sourcing, and their growth.
Head of Development
& Head of the Central Kitchen
Executive Development Chef
Head of Food
14.30 – THE NEXT BIG THING
With UK diners continuing to show enthusiasm for exploring new flavours and textures, suppliers of unusual fruits and vegetables will take to the stage to showcase the unique characteristics of their weird and wonderful offerings. Discover the next big thing; from jackfruit and tomatillo the lesser-well-known herbs. Learn what added value they have to offer the UK foodservice scene, and how they will scale up for volume for the bigger operators.
Business Development Director
15.15 – Networking Break
15.45 – THE SUPPLY CHAIN
An interactive panel discussion involving major contract caterers and fresh fruit and veg producers looking at how the supply chain can work better together, what foodservice operators need from produce suppliers and vice versa.
UK & Ireland
Oli Cock Consulting Services
16.30 – The Wrap-Up
To round off the day, host Jason Danciger, Managing Director of Hana Group UK, will present his conclusions and final thoughts to take away.
Come join us as we recognize this vital sector and develop plans to use the foodservice sector to boost produce consumption.
You can register for the event right here:
If you need help or have questions, let us know here.
Omni-Channel retailing is sweeping the globe. Indeed, it so important to the produce trade that we created an entire conference dedicated specifically to exploring the junction between Omni-Channel and fresh produce. You can review some of the topics we discussed in these pieces:
ONLY IN AMSTERDAM… Walmart’s Senior Director Of Omnichannel Rand Waddoups To Talk About Ways To Build E-commerce Synergies With Produce
‘Captain of Retail’ Jorg Snoeck Speaks at Amsterdam Produce Summit: How to Navigate the Omni-Channel Revolution – New Consumers, New Technology, New Outlets for Shopping
10 DATA-RICH INGREDIENTS TO OMNI-CHANNEL SUCCESS
Kantar Worldwide To Highlight Fresh Data At Amsterdam Produce Summit
Kantar Worldpanel Interview Part II - 10 DATA-RICH INGREDIENTS TO OMNI-CHANNEL SUCCESS 'E-Commerce Is A Must-Have, And Fresh Produce Will Be The Next Playing Ground.'
Cornell Professor Miguel Gómez Reveals How Omni-Channel Retailing Creates Challenges And Opportunities For The Produce Supply Chain
AMSTERDAM PRODUCE SUMMIT PREVIEW PART I: Branding and Packaging Expert Lisa Cork Takes Deep Dive Into Omni-Channel Retailing And The Prospects For Fresh
AMSTERDAM PRODUCE SUMMIT PREVIEW (PART II) More From Packaging Expert Lisa Cork: Omni-channel Retailing Opens Floodgates Of Produce Marketing Opportunities (And Challenges)
Markon’s Tim York To Speak In Amsterdam: How To Profit From Omni-Channel Proficiency… Foodservice, Retail And The Produce Supply Chain
EXCLUSIVE PRESENTATION AT AMSTERDAM PRODUCE SUMMIT: Chinese Entrepreneur And Practice-Leader Loren Zhao Talks About His Company, FruitDay, And Shares Real-World Knowledge On Selling Fruit To Consumers Via E-Commerce While Previewing The Omni-Channel Future
China is a leader in this area, and George Liu is one of the young players we’ve been tracking for some time with pieces such as these:
Young Entrepreneur: Fruta Cloud brings new model to Chinese fruit market
Imported cherries ‘no longer a premium product’ for China, claims Frutacloud chief
E-retail, not e-commerce: China’s fast-changing online market for fresh fruit
In London, we are fortunate to have George participating in the Global Grape Summit, on a panel titled Maximizing Online Retailing In China. George will also participate on the Perishable Pundit Thought-Leader Panel at The London Produce Show and Conference.
We asked Matthew Ogg, contributing editor at PRODUCE BUSINESS magazine and Fresh Fruit Portal, to get us a sneak preview of George’s thoughts as we head off to London:
Q: The Global Grape Summit is just around the corner now, and you’ll be there talking about maximizing online retail sales in China. What are some of the key points you’ll be discussing?
A: We have been working with a lot of online retailers, including some new e-retail channels like Hema and also the regular ones like Fruitday and JD.com, and when we talk about online sales for grapes, we’re using a different strategy to offline.
When you’re doing offline, the customer is drawn to the appearance of the fruit, but when you’re doing it online, it’s much more important to have a story behind it, to have a good name and to introduce in words what is so special about the grapes.
I think that’s what has been lacking in the past, not just for grapes but for many other fruits. For example, in a lot of the green seedless grapes, the name was not so important in the past for the customer; you could talk about Pristine Seedless from Polar Fresh Group or Sweet Globe from IFG or Autumn Crisp from Sun World, and sometimes the customer didn’t know the difference.
But now because of online retail, they put emphasis on a lot of these different varieties to make sure the customer wants to try every one of them, and to make sure the customer remembers which one brought the best eating experience.
Q: For grape marketers themselves exporting to China, how best should they go about this?
A: Right now, a lot of the Chinese e-commerce retailers are switching to more of a service-provider model similar to Europe. So, the brand owners will talk to the supermarket about what they have to offer, about the seasonality, maybe even about packaging, and sometimes it will be about the pricing, but there will be some service providers in the middle to help them do the repacking and the supply chain.
This model is more developed for other categories; I would say for citrus, apple, kiwifruit, but right now there are a few really big grape brands trying to do this in China. Even though they cannot do this service end-to-end, they at least can talk to retailers directly about what they have to offer and what product or service they should use.
We at FrutaCloud sometimes act as a service provider to facilitate, to make sure all the plans can be executed well and the fruit can arrive fresh to the customer.
Q: And in terms of that consumer-facing message you mentioned, what are some examples of companies putting out a good story?
A: Right now, one of the star varieties is the Muscat Beauty, which is a muscat grape that is seedless, and Santa Elena [in Chile] owns the patent. Muscat Beauty has been growing really rapidly over the past two or three years, and FrutaCloud has been one of the major receivers and promoters of the variety.
I think this is a perfect example of how e-commerce and retail can really push a variety that is traditionally not well received in the wholesale market; part of the reason for that is Muscat Beauty is not a traditional good-looking grape.
People will say the Chinese market likes a lot of bloom and really big berries. Muscat Beauty goes against all of that. But one thing it does have is the taste, so when we are promoting Muscat Beauty, we position it as a royal enjoyment of having the taste you’ll never forget. I think this is something similar to what Cotton Candy is doing in the United States or even in Europe.
Q: So there’s a good opportunity with table grapes for flavor to come to the fore?
A: Yeah, I think flavor has already come to the fore, but, that being said, a lot of the flavor varieties are still in the nascent stages in terms of how to handle them. Varieties like Cotton Candy are a little bit more difficult to handle because of shatter problems.
So I would say even though there’s a big emphasis on flavor, the condition of the fruit is still very, very important because if you imagine the supply chain for e-commerce and new retail, they are delivering that piece of fruit to their customers either through a carrier or a bike messenger, for example, and the fruit is going to suffer a little bit more wear and tear in transit.
Q: We’ve been talking a lot about proprietary varieties, but what percentage do they make up at retail compared to your standard varieties like Red Globes or Crimson Seedless?
A: At Frutacloud, our customer base leans more toward the high-end, so we see the shift from traditional varieties to these new varieties in a very fast manner. Over the past two or three years, Red Globe used to occupy a big share of our supply to our customers, but right now Red Globe only accounts for maybe 20 to 30 percent. I would say the patented varieties have already surpassed over half of our volume to our customers.
Q: Is that to say Red Globes are only losing much place in your particular business model? Maybe someone else is still finding opportunities with those for a lower income demographic of people?
A: Yes, exactly. You have to always remember that China is a very big country, and the average income in China is still quite low. So you still have a huge segment of the lower end market where Red Globes can hit a sweet spot for the bargain seekers, and then also in terms of premium Red Globe, there’s still a good market as well. It’s just for the new retailers and e-commerce, because of how they promote their product it’s easier to promote new varieties.
Q: You’ve spoken about the importance of watching disposable income growth for understanding the Chinese market, and that figure grew by 6.5 percent in 2018. What can we expect from the Chinese economy and how e-retail fits in?
A: Even though the disposable income has grown a lot, as we all know the China market is suffering a little bit of a growth slowdown overall in terms of GDP, and I think overall that will affect the consumer expectation as well. I still think new retail is the way to go, and having fruit delivered to your house for the convenience is still a big point.
Now we are starting to see some trends in some of our customers that are putting more emphasis on reducing waste in the packaging. I think that’s a very good direction to go – it’s already been the direction for Europe and the U.S., where they really care about how much plastic you use in the packaging. On the flipside, however, the less plastic you use in the packaging the less protection you give to the fruit, especially when you have to deliver that to the door.
There is a big opportunity for innovation in the supply chain in how to deliver the fruit to the customer — protected and fresh while reducing as much plastic as possible.
Q: Do you feel this is something grape suppliers need to take on board in their programs?
A: I think it will be a collaborative effort between the grape suppliers and us… we need to find a way to repackage this fruit and protect it, and with good presentation as well, so there are multiple things we need to tick on the box.
Q: That’s very interesting. And are there any other topics you’re looking to discuss in London?
A: I’d like to talk about how we could go about introducing the patented varieties to be grown in China. It’s something everybody wants to do, but people are a little scared because of the copyright protection and all the infrastructure surrounding how to have a successful vineyard in China. That’s something we could explore together.
Many have long lamented the produce industry’s focus on providing beautiful fruit to the consumer. Environmentalists and social activists see this as a major cause of food waste. Traditionalists have seen this as leading to the abandonment of many good tasting heirloom varieties.
George Liu raises the interesting question as to whether a move to e-commerce might lead to a more analytic consumer – studying varietal tariffs through online education and marketing, rather than giving an emotive response to product right before one’s eyes on a store shelf.
He also points out that branding may have more significant impact if online purchasing allows consumers to better track what products they enjoy and set them for automatic re-order.
It is also true that appearance can be very important in online commerce. When product is delivered to a home, the consumer often will do a quick check and send back anything unsatisfactory. Even a minor imperfection can thus be very expensive.
In any case, we appreciate George flying all the way from China to share his insights.
Come to the Global Grape Summit and The London Produce Show and Conference to hear George’s explanation of how the Chinese market is developing and think about how lessons learned in China will reverberate through the global produce supply chain.
You can register for both events right here.
You can find the website for the Global Grape Summit here.
For The London Produce Show and Conference here.
And if you need help or have any questions please contact us right here.
In gathering the best and brightest to present at our events, we are proud to have serious people who are helping the industry wrestle with serious issues. But life should include some sweet fruit — maybe even drenched in brandy and covered in whipped cream — as well as steak. So, it is a special treat to have a friend who is both serious and witty. In fact, John Pandol has functioned as the “unofficial” PRODUCE BUSINESS humorist for many years, producing articles that tell the truth — with a twist. You can read some of these pieces here:
Pundit’s Mailbag — Univeg, Ready Pac, Sunkist And The Lord Mayor Of Dublin
PMA's EAT BRIGHTER Campaign Trumpets Success But The Data Tells Us Nothing About Any Consumption Boost
Pundit’s Mailbag — Tesco Gets Reviews From Industry Members
Truce Confessions Of A Conference Junkie
Communications Technology – The Flintstone’s Task With The Jetson’s Tools
Farmers Are The New Rock Stars: You Have Permission To Trash Your Hotel Room
On The Future Of Trade Shows
An Insider’s Search For Cool
Trade Shows: Public, Private or Both?
Cull to Action
Ugly Produce: The 2.0 of Dumpster Diving
Good Help Is Hard To Keep And Harder To Make
We asked Matthew Ogg, contributing editor for sister publication PRODUCE BUSINESS and FreshFruitPortal.com to catch up with John before he heads over to London to give us his unique perspective on the table grape industry.
Director of Special Projects
Q: You’ll be taking part in a panel on the consumer response to new table grape varieties, a topic you’ve been a bit skeptical about in the past with the introduction of so many cultivars.
Q: So, would you be able to give me a summary of your view on new varieties?
A: We know in the U.S. market, at least, that because PLU usage is not uniform, the data is hard to drill down too far. So really the quality of the overall market data is not as usable as some of the other commodities, and that makes that kind of hard analysis dangerous to make.
As just a general comment, I look at varieties as a technology, and if I were adopting a technology - say chemical or packaging - would I market it in the same way? That is from a sales point of view. Is the variety a feature or a benefit for either the retailer itself or the end consumer?
Q: You have to question whether it’s going to be just a novelty or something that really drives sales…
A: Is the differentiation something that’s going to be a benefit, or not? If it’s a nice red seedless grape but not terribly different from others but it’s just a feature and not a benefit, in that case the premium might be the sale.
If we go back to one of the old sales standbys ‘the customer is always right’, some customers may view it as a benefit as a differentiation and others may not. Although retailers may not have the same attitude towards varieties generally or a specific variety.
I may have one retailer who is absolutely in love with something, and he may think in their format it works, that they can differentiate and use it as a benefit, whereas in a more value-oriented format they’re simply looking for something that’s sound and sufficient and not really a big benefit and nor are they looking for it.
The go-to-market strategies must be tailored to different customers.
Q: In the U.S. market are there any varieties that you think have stood out, whether it be as a feature or a benefit in supermarkets?
A: I would say in recent times the Cotton Candy is the obvious example of something that grabbed the imagination of retail and consumers like we have not seen in really anything, certainly not in my lifetime.
What’s odd is that they have not had the same reaction from the non-U.S. supply — California seems to drive it more than the Cotton Candy from other regions, and that to me is a very curious reality.
Q: That’s interesting. I didn’t realize that.
A: Remember, you can eat grapes fresh and you can make wine. Imagine the wine buyer and the fresh grape buyer changing places but keeping their same criteria, and all of a sudden the new fresh buyer says grapes are different depending on where they’re grown, and the fresh grape buyer now buying wine says ‘I don’t care if the cabernet is from the Napa Valley or Fresno, it’s all the same’. They cannot both be right.
Q: Whereas we all know that in the wine industry they very much value that sense of provenance.
A: Because it’s real. I can’t take grapes from the Central Valley, pour them in bottles and label them as from Napa — they’re just not the same.
Q: So how do we apply this comparison for industry improvement?
A: Another observation we get out of the U.S. over the past few years is we are increasingly hearing sales are more robust during the California season than the offshore season, and it seems to be that freshness is a driver.
That’s the only thing I can think of, and what has happened is that when we had fewer varieties we stored grapes more. Now we have new varieties of white and red constantly coming off, so we have fresher grapes at retail, and that has boosted consumption.
And as people become accustomed to fresher grapes, grapes that come from offshore that simply take longer to get here, they don’t seem to be as excited about them.
Q: Despite the fact that growers, whether they be in Chile, Peru or South Africa, are indeed investing in new varieties themselves?
A: They’re in the new varieties, they harvest at the same maturity, the same quality characteristics. The only thing that’s different is age. Really the question is: Do I have the right cause and effect or no? You’d say the grapes are effectively identical, so why would they sell better in our season with much more competition with other things than they do in the off-season?
Q: Do you think patriotism would play any part?
A: No. Generally speaking, Americans talk the talk but they don’t walk the walk. For example, when you go to Mexico, everyone says don’t drink the water and then our biggest agricultural import from Mexico is beer. Go figure — all the hops and all the grains are shipped from the USA to Mexico, they add their water and bring it back here. That makes no sense at all.
We don’t see it in other products either — produce, food or anything else. The national origin doesn’t seem to matter despite the talk.
Q: This obviously presents challenges to the industry, especially for those outside the United States. So where do we go from here? What is the next step for the sector to make further gains and increase consumer interest?
A: I think consumers are confronted with too many choices. We’re starting to see products that are essentially graded by computers. Every blueberry goes down the line, and every blueberry is examined, or every citrus might be infra-red sugar-checked. If you think about the 100 berries on a grape bunch, how do we know that they’re all uniformly a good eating experience?
I think we’re just going to start seeing a separation from items that are robotically or in some mechanized way have quality control, and those that were simply looked at by the human eye. And that type of variation is a problem.
Q: So you see a problem in the fact that table grapes are still hand-harvested?
A: Basically, we look at it and we’re looking at very subtle changes in color to visually determine maturity. And one of the challenges of the new varieties is that with fewer varieties people knew what color to pick – well, now each variety may have its own color.
You may have a white variety that eats well when it is grass-green; the next variety doesn’t eat well until it’s amber, and the next one in between. Imagine these are on a supermarket shelf at the same time! What does the retail shopper look for? How do I train my harvest crews, assuming I am still hand harvesting in the future?
If the visual cues are not there, there’s also the risk of being overripe. We’ve had people wait longer until they’re higher sugar, and while sugar goes up, other characteristics like texture may actually go down. Essentially, we don’t think of grapes being overripe, but they all have a minimum, maximum and optimum.
Our problem is now we have to figure out what is the minimum, maximum and optimum for 80 different varieties, which in theory are going to be obsolete in 10 years.
Q: Well we can only hope that some smart people are out there working in machinery and robotics and AI that can cater to all these different varieties.
A: A generation ago you said ‘oh, my kid knows about computers, he’ll do the website’. Well, my nephew was just at a high school competition for robotics. So yeah, he’ll figure it out.
John raises many important questions. These two are particularly intriguing:
The relative acceptance of Cotton Candy grapes in the US and overseas
The relative sales strength in the US of grapes during the California season, as opposed to the imported season.
We haven’t seen enough data to come to strong opinions on either of these questions, but we would urge caution as these things are impacted by many variables that are very hard to trace.
Back when the Alar scare hit the US produce industry, apple sales collapsed — the presumption was that it was consumer concerns over Alar. But later studies brought this into question. Retailers had pulled back on putting apples on ad, they reduced promotion and shelf space. You can’t run a controlled test on these things, but there seems to be significant reason to believe that had retailers continued their normal promotional program, the decline in apple sales would have been significantly less than it was.
Does the terroir of table grapes, as in wine, impact the flavor? Do consumer tastes vary from culture to culture? How are prices and display philosophy different in different markets and in different times of the year?
So much to discuss, so many thoughtful people to discuss these subjects with. That is what the Global Grape Summit and The London Produce Show and Conference are all about.
You can catch the Global Grape Summit website here.
The London Produce Show and Conference website here.
If you have questions, please ask us here.
Rupert Maude is one of those people who knows how to make things happen. Quietly, behind the scenes, he has been of enormous help to the development of The London Produce Show and Conference. We’ll never forget our first year when Rupert came up and said, “This is simply brilliant. You know why? There are no tire-kickers here!”
Since that moment, we vowed to keep the tire-kickers out!
So, it is a special treat to have Rupert join us in projecting what the grape industry will be like ten years out.
We asked, Matthew Ogg, contributing editor PRODUCE BUSINESS and FreshFruitPortal.com to get a preview of Rupert’s thoughts on the matter:
Q: At the Global Grape Summit, you’ll be participating in a panel discussion, which looks forward to 2029 and what’s in store for the grape industry. From your experience and what you’re seeing at the moment, what do you think the future holds in the decade ahead for this commodity?
A: That’s a very good question, because I think, if anything, time and experience have shown me that you can’t predict the future. A long time ago a gentleman who had been in the business for 50 years told me that his knowledge and experience were not very relevant, because it’s changed very rapidly and it’s changed so much.
Ten years on, the only thing I would say with any certainty is fruit will continue to be consumed. I would be very surprised if grapes didn’t continue to be a very popular product — as to how it would reach the customer or the final user, in what format, that I think is beyond me.
Looking around the world and the way grapes are marketed, it’s so different. You see most of Europe, and quite a lot of the world they use punnets and other places they like to do it completely loose, no packaging whatsoever. And in other places they use bags.
I think that will evolve, so different kinds of packaging will come out; packaging that will enhance the product, that will increase shelf life or increase the presentation at point of sale.
Q: On the other hand, whilst we can’t know what’s going to happen for sure, when growers are planting vines it can take time for the fruit to come into being, so they still have to do a bit of guesswork. Where is that guesswork heading in a broader sense as far as varieties and markets are concerned?
A: If you’re a breeder you have a very clear remit. It was summed up very well by a large California grower – the grape needs to be good, and that means good color, shape, size, eating and shelf life, so five points. And it must be cheap and efficient — efficient to grow. In other words, you can’t spend a lot of time hand-trimming it or any work that’s going to involve a lot of labor, because labor gets expensive.
Q: And how are you as a company future-proofing your business, and where do you see the greatest opportunities and challenges?
A: The opportunity is doing an ever better job more efficiently, and breaking that down it’s making sure you reduce your claims and your reductions. Therefore, if you do a better job in the fields, you’ll have less reduced yields, less issue and therefore cost, and if you do a good job post-harvest and get it to the customer in the right state, then you’re winning again because you’re going to have fewer claims.
Everybody must look to grow the best reputation they can, because at the end of the day the reputation is what you’re judged by, whether you’re a journalist, a grower or a fighter pilot; it’s about who you are, what you’ve done and how you do it that matters. For any business going forward, it must be sustainable, environmentally friendly, not just to the environment but to the whole sector whether it be suppliers, customers, the general public, everyone.
Q: What do you see as some of the most prospective markets for table grapes where companies like yours are finding more opportunities or are acting more aggressively to position yourselves?
A: I think Asia has huge possibilities, but it also has a lot of risk. India has tremendous potential but it’s not there in my mind yet. We see other markets like Australia and New Zealand, which are being served by people like California, and we see no reason why we couldn’t do that, so the potential to do an awful lot of things is there, but it’s a question of arriving at the time when we’re able to engage.
Q: What kind of threats do you see from new growing regions? For example, we’ve seen massive growth in production from places like Peru, which is having an impact on markets.
A: I don’t see the Southern Hemisphere as a direct threat, but it’s an indirect threat because if they do a poor job and manage to reduce the average price of grapes across the world, then that will have a knock-on effect obviously.
Of more concern to us is the African countries that are emerging, like Tunisia, Morocco or Senegal, where there is an ambition to grow grapes, and they haven’t done so before. If they are sponsored by the right breeding programs, they will get traction with customers, and they will just divide and conquer. Supermarkets love a new offer.
At the moment it isn’t happening, but I think we’d just have to work alongside. There’s no easy fix on this.
Q: We’ve covered a fair bit of ground here. When it comes to issues for the future, is there anything else we haven’t touched on that you’d like to discuss?
A: I think the big thing for the future is packaging and plastics — you see all these terrible pictures of seas of plastic just floating around the world’s oceans, and I think a lot can and will be done to reduce the use of plastic in packaging, and to make manufacturers, producers, everybody more accountable for residues.
I remember going to a show back in the day and going to a meeting about recycling packaging, and there were two of us plus the third guy who was giving the talk. It just showed how little interest everybody had in it, whereas today there is pressure from our customers, pressure from the media, and I think it’s self-conscious as well; everybody feels they want to leave the world a better place than when they entered it, so I think that will be the biggest thing in the next five or 10 years.
Q: On that note, are you making any inroads experimenting with different packaging methods that incorporate recyclable or compostable materials?
A: Of course. First of all, there are many types of packaging available today and there are also a lot of new ones coming out. Two years ago, no one would have thought about having a cardboard punnet because it’s so much cheaper and easier to use a plastic one, but cardboard punnets are becoming available and they’re heat-sealable.
We’re working with that, and we have worked with paper bags forever; we’re extending that out. We’re also looking at cellulose, which is a plastic that is far more recyclable, and it will be a question of looking at different packaging materials.
Wood isn’t really an option because you get splinters, but paper and cardboard are going to be much more prevalent in packaging going forward.
The U.K. market is probably the most aggressive market in the world where everything has had to be cheaper, but I think that’s changed. I think Brexit will change that and the revolution of packaging will change that, where people will have to pay for the right materials and the right way of doing things, and that is just a concept that gets passed on whatever the product, whatever the field.
Q: And hopefully as more people enter the space to supply and find efficiencies, then it will get cheaper. That’s fantastic you’re taking on those initiatives and thanks for your time today.
As if to prove Rupert’s sagacity in speaking about the unpredictability of business, shortly after this interview focused on micro-issues, such as plastic, El Ciruelo announced a Trans-Atlantic expansion:
Spain’s El Ciruelo acquires leading Brazilian table grape producer
Spain-based fruit company El Ciruelo has reached an agreement with Grupo JD to acquire its subsidiary Labrunier, the largest Brazilian table grape producer, as well as its international distributor Bravis.
Specifically, the major acquisition includes five companies in Brazil and the Netherlands, made up of producers and marketers.
Now the business conglomerate boasts more than 3,000 employees and 2,400 hectares of land, with almost 1,000 hectares of these already in production.
According to El Ciruelo, this is the largest area in the world dedicated exclusively to the development of new varieties.
Speaking further on its incorporation, the company calls Labrunier a leading business in terms of sophistication, using cutting-edge technologies for the care and supervision of crops, while maintaining sustainable efforts recognized by its Rainforest Alliance certification.
From a commercial point of view, El Ciruelo says the purchase will make it the leading group in the production and sale of grapes in the Brazilian domestic market – the largest in Latin America.
Owning the country’s largest grape export network will also grant the corporation a renewed international reach.
It comments that it will now able to directly supply international customers such as Walmart, Wholefoods or Loblaws in North America, as well as some of the largest European retailers.
What’s more, Bravis is the only Brazilian company authorized to export W. Murcott mandarins to Europe.
El Ciruelo states that the Brazilian location is also strategic for agricultural production – the climatic conditions of the San Francisco River Valley make it one of the only regions in the world that can obtain two table grape harvests in the same year.
So, maybe, when we are looking ahead to the grape industry a decade hence, we will have to ask Rupert about the role of Trans-national companies and alliances!
Come to the Global Grape Summit and The London Produce Show and Conference and learn what Rupert answers!
You can register here.
Or send us an email if you have a question right here.