The City of New York ranks Number One of all American cities in the global Innovation Cities index. So it’s a great place to host an event focused on innovation, and that is really the hallmark of The New York Produce Show and Conference. It is useful to think of the three P’s when thinking of innovation.
Sometimes innovation is about product and, at The New York Produce Show and Conference, we will recognize the winners of the PRODUCE BUSINESS Innovation Award and, then, the Joe Nucci Award for Product Innovation will be given to one of those winners for its innovation in product development in the service of increasing consumption. And, of course, the Trade Show and New Product Showcase are both chock full of interesting and innovative products, all in search of a home at retail and foodservice and, ultimately, with consumers.
Sometimes innovation is about people, and from the University Interchange Program, to the Foundational Excellence program done in conjunction with Cornell University, to the Culinary Student Program, on to Educational Micro Sessions, industry tours and, of course, the Perishable Pundit’s Thought-Leader Breakfast, practically the whole of the event is focused on helping people open their minds to be innovative – new ideas, new ways of thinking.
Even the networking events and the trade show are mostly about creating a modern-day version of the Greek Agora or Roman Forum where members of the trade gather to exchange ideas, discuss industry issues, share best practices and market intelligence, all in the service of finding innovative ways to develop personally, grow their organizations and build the future of this quite extraordinary industry.
Sometimes innovation is about process – how do you make things happen, what institutions and processes are needed to advance? And here, The New York Produce Show and Conference stands as an exemplar par excellence, for it is itself the result of an innovative collaboration between the Eastern Produce Council and PRODUCE BUSINESS magazine.
The industry has many association events and many private sector events, but only The New York Produce Show and Conference combines the best of both worlds. It does so in an innovative fashion connecting the networks, intelligence and aspirations of two organizations, both dedicated to a goal of elevating the industry and, specifically, to creating a time and place whereby the industry can learn, connect and grow. When we talk about developing ways to innovate, well, we’ve actually done it!
So, we have taken this focus on innovation, broken it down to the three p’s of Product, People and Process and created something unique in the world: The largest fixed-site produce event in the Western Hemisphere, yet an event of intimacy, in which relationships both establish and deepen, a gathering of thought- and practice-leaders that elevate and inspire all who engage.
There are great things that happen in this industry all across the country and all around the world, but what we do at The New York Produce Show and Conference is pay homage to New York as a great innovation city and that…. well, that happens as we like to say… ONLY IN NEW YORK!
Today’s Pundit is dedicated to giving our readers a sneak preview of some of the happenings at The New York Produce Show and Conference. We hope you’ll be a part of the event.
You can check out our event websites here:
You can register for the event right here.
We hope to see you… and have you be a part of the things that happen… ONLY IN NEW YORK!
As The New York Produce Show and Conference has grown over the years, we have added a series of specialized programs to better serve the industry.
On Monday, December 11, 2017, we begin a week-long series of events and programs with our Foundational Excellence program. This unique program, done in conjunction with Cornell University, serves a specific need. It is an incredible program for people with less than five years’ experience in the produce industry.
Participants may be younger people, just starting in their careers, or they may be more senior executives making a move into produce -- say an expert on marketing or food safety now moving to apply these skills in the produce field. In any case, the program is designed to jump-start the careers of those who attend while also giving a hyper boost to the contributions these attendees can make to their companies and to the industry.
Ed McLaughlin, Robert G. Tobin Professor of Marketing and Director of the Food Industry Management Program at Cornell, did an excellent job explaining the program when we first launched it:
Preview of Foundational Excellence Program: Cornell’s Ed McLaughlin Leads Blockbuster Academic Cast To Elevate Knowledge Base of New Produce industry Professionals
For 2017, this is the program:
Cornell Produce Industry
Future-Leaders-in-Produce Program at the New York Produce Show and Conference
Monday, December 11, 2017 • New York Hilton
8:00 - 8:45 a.m. Welcome and Introductory Comments
Jim Prevor, Founder, PRODUCE BUSINESS/ PerishablePundit.com/ New York Produce Show and Conference
Widely recognized as a leader in assessing the state of the perishable food industries, Jim Prevor has transformed real-world produce buying and selling experience into passionate articles that “initiate industry improvement” in every word.
Representing the fourth generation of his family to be active in the food business in the United States, Jim served as a director of his family’s New York-based import, export and wholesale produce company. At various times, the business also owned supermarkets and convenience stores, a restaurant chain and various farming operations. Jim combines the real-world experience of one who has worked in the trade with the analytical perspective of an editor and analyst.
8:45 - 9:45 a.m. The U.S. Food System:
The Role of Fresh Produce
Kristen Park, Extension Associate
With an M.S. in Animal Science, Michigan State University and an M.S. in Agricultural, Resource, and Managerial Economics, Cornell University, Park conducts applied research on a variety of food marketing issues, most notably for the fresh produce distribution system.
She, with the Food Industry Management team, recently completed a study of produce procurement offices. Park also recently authored two chapters in the book, Growing Local: Case Studies on Local Food Supply Chains. In addition, she is a member of a multi-state team, funded by USDA, which is assessing benefits of regionally produced foods for retailers and consumers located in low income communities. She is leading the development of over ten supply chain case studies for the team.
9:45 - 10:00 a.m. Break
10:00 - 11:00 a.m. The Global Produce Industry — Implications for the U.S.
Miguel Gomez, Associate Professor
Earning both his PhD and Master’s degrees at the University of Illinois, Miguel’s areas of expertise are Applied Industrial Organization, Food Supply Chains, and Quantitative Marketing.
Gomez heads the Food Marketing and Distribution Program at Cornell University, where research efforts are applied both locally and abroad in Latin America and the Caribbean. Overseeing a team of approximately ten researchers, study topics include East Coast Broccoli Production, Soil-Based Sustainable Specialty Crop Greenhouse Industry in the Northeast, and Increasing the Competitiveness of the NY Grape Nursery Industry.
11:00 - 12:00 p.m. Key Consumer Trends and Issues for
Brad Rickard, Associate Professor
Brad Rickard is the Ruth and William Morgan Associate Professor of Applied Economics and Management. His teaching and research focus is on the economic implications of policies, innovation, and industry-led initiatives in food and beverage markets.
Professor Rickard’s research program examines issues at the intersection of agricultural markets, food policy, and international trade. His research has assessed how markets for specialty crops respond to changes in nutrition and health information, food labeling practices, promotional efforts, agricultural policy reform, trade liberalization, and the introduction of new technologies. Current work is studying the economics of food waste and the effects of policy initiatives that might be used to mitigate food waste.
12:00 - 1:15 p.m. Lunch: Jim Prevor’s Produce-Industry
D’Arrigo Bros Of NY
Spezzano Consulting Services
1:15 - 2:30 p.m. The Big Picture: Implications for Produce
Rod Hawkes, Senior Extension Associate
Rod Hawkes focuses on the food marketing and distribution industries in the U.S. and around the world to understand the economics, opportunities, and trends impacting the safe delivery of food to consumers. This knowledge is extended to industry audiences ranging from front line level managers to senior executives in companies and organizations operating throughout the food system.
Hawkes’ focus is applied research regarding current or looming food industry issues. The result of these projects is output that food industry practitioners and managers can use to directly improve their practices or operations. A recent example is an investigation of the changes affecting the fresh fruit and vegetable procurement practices of supermarket buyers and category managers. This project was a collaboration with Edward McLaughlin and Kristen Park.
2:30 - 2:45 p.m. Break
2:45 - 4:00 p.m. Career Development: Key Success Factors
Bill Drake, Senior Extension Associate
Bill Drake is a former food industry executive (20 years) and is now responsible for development and execution of food industry executive education programming for the Food Industry Management Program.
Drake’s responsibilities center around the development and execution of executive education programs for the food industry. The audience consists of retailers, manufacturers, and service providers. In general, the programs are designed to improve the competitive viability of firms and the industry as a whole.
4:00 - 4:30 p.m. Q&A and Suggestions for Further
Cornell Professors and Jim Prevor
4:30 - 4:45 p.m. Closing Comments and Observations
Jim Prevor, Founder, PRODUCE BUSINESS/
PerishablePundit.com/New York Produce Show and Conference
The program has been valued extremely highly by past attendees. In fact, most companies have sent someone back year after year. It is not too late to send someone to the program. In fact, we have learned in fast-paced New York, a lot of people make decisions at the last possible moment, so we even accept walk-in registrations
The program takes place at the Midtown Hilton on 6th Avenue and 53rd Street in Manhattan.
Here is the website:
You can register here
And if you need a last-minute hotel room, just let us know here.
And any questions about the program just let us know right here!
A strong foundation is the base to build a career, a company and an industry. Join us for the Foundational Excellence program!
One of the important functions of The New York Produce Show and Conference is to bring to the region important and interesting people from around the world – produce industry professionals who might not normally come to this area or people who will talk about mind-opening global subjects.
This is partly done through the Global Trade Symposium, America’s only dedicated international trade program for the produce industry. You can peruse the past programs or look at some of the videos from last year, and you will see that this intimate gathering has provided a level of programming simply unparalleled.
This year is no exception.
We are pleased to unveil the Global Trade Symposium Program for 2017:
Produce Import & Export:
The Disruption of Established Markets
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
New York Hilton, New York
Grand Ballroom West (Third Floor)
7:00 a.m. – 8:00 pm Registration
8:15 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Continental Breakfast
8:30 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. General Session / Welcome Remarks
Jim Prevor, President and CEO
Produce Business & PerishablePundit.com
9:15 a.m. – 10 a.m. GRAPE SUCCESS: How to Utilize Proliferation of Proprietary Varieties
The proliferation of proprietary grape varieties is changing the world, for better or worse. The presentation will explore how various segments of the trade — notably, producers and retailers — should act to utilize this trend to their advantage.
Johan van Niekerk
Director, Star South
10 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. OUT OF AFRICA: Opportunities for Fresh Products Reaching U.S. Markets are strong,especially inN Kenya
Current exports of fresh fruits and vegetables from Sub-Saharan Africa are mainly destined for EU markets. This has been influenced by existing relationships from historical association and began to grow during World War II.
With the enactment of African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in 2000, the U.S. market became more interesting for beneficiary countries.
For fruits and vegetables, there was still a need to meet market requirements, and currently a range of vegetables are allowed to enter the U.S. from Kenya. Exporters are looking to expand their markets and with the ability to meet food safety and other global standards, feel confident to do so.
Horticultural Crops Directorate
Practical Solutions Int’l
10:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Break
11 a.m. – 11:45 p.m. SUPPLY CHAIN REACTION: The rapid
transformation of Asian fruit and vegetable value
chains and potential for TRADES AND partnerships
Tom has done 15 years of detailed surveys of fruit and vegetable supply chains, and services upstream and midstream for the horticulture sector, in China, Southeast Asia and South Asia. He works that first-hand surveys information base into a talk laying out the surprising trends in transformation of the supply chains and services, and assesses their implication for trading and partnering.
Ph.D., Professor of Agricultural, Food,
and Resource Economics at
Michigan State University
11:45 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. THE CHINESE OPPORTUNITY: Serving The Rising Middle Class Online And In Store With Imported Produce Serving The Middle Class
The founder of China’s No. 1 e-commerce site for ordering fruit deliveries will sit down with Jim Prevor to discuss the rapidly changing environment of getting imported fruits into the homes of the world’s fastest-growing middle class.
12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. - Working Luncheon:
Opportunities And Challenges In Selling Fresh Produce In Europe
Beva Fruits France
Head of Technical
Johan van Niekerk
Cool Fresh International
1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.Latin American Challenge:
Assessing The future of the Region's
Founder & CEO of
Regional Head Perishables Americas,
Director of Special Projects
2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. FRESH BERRY BLITZ: How The
North American Market Can
Capitalize on Growth
Global demand for fresh berries is growing, stimulating trade and competition. This talk provides a topline view of the key berries, including trends in growth markets and sources of supply. For example, South Africa, Peru, Mexico and Morocco are becoming blueberry players. Changes in relative competitiveness and implications for players will be described, honing in on trends for firms operating in North America.
Emerita faculty member at Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ARE)
University of California Davis
3 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. WE’VE COME A LONG WAY: A Discussion of Global Citrus Changes — 1970 vs. 2015
We will look at where citrus grows, the changes in varietal production, the recent explosion of easy-peel citrus and the major changes in global trade. The presentation ends with a discussion on market access drivers impacting global trade.
VP of Sales & Business Development
3:45 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. THE SPEED OF INNOVATION:How
Quality & Technical Teams need to
Recently moving from Corporate Retail to the start-up world, Amy will discuss how the Quality & Technical function can often be lost in translation, but by being embedded in the core of the business and supported by senior leadership, it can enable market leading growth.
Head of Technical
4:40 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. Wrap-up
From China, from Africa, from Europe, from both North and South America… serious, significant people with important ideas are gathering … Only in New York!
It would be a terrible mistake to think you only need be concerned with Global Trade if you are personally doing the trading. Every buyer in America is in competition with players around the world for the best produce. Every producer’s price -- even if he never exports a box -- is highly influenced by what is being imported and exported.
Please join us at the Hilton’s West Ballroom on Tuesday, December 12th for this extraordinary program. And when it concludes, join us for the Opening Cocktail Reception, which you will enjoy more with new friends from around the w world.
Each part of The New York Produce Show and Conference is carefully designed to achieve specific goals.
There is a reason The Opening Cocktail Reception comes the evening before the trade show… so that old relationships can be renewed and deepened, new relationships can be established and, over a drink and hors d’oeuvres, the connections and trust built that are essential to conducting business in the produce arena.
There is also a reason we kick off the show day with the Perishable Pundit’s Thought-Leader Breakfast. It is no use going into a day of seeing new vendors, vendors one may have stopped working with, new products, old products that one stopped carrying, new people who one doesn’t know – and confronting all this with a closed mind. So, the intent of the Thought-Leader Breakfast is to begin the day, much as some meditate to clear the mind, with a thought-provoking discussion that will open the mind. That will make one interested in and open-to new ideas, revisiting old ways, engaging with new people.
Every year we are assisted in this endeavor by a group of extraordinary people -- people with something to teach, certainly, but also people not afraid to engage in a vigorous discussion before the entire industry. The industry is in debt to both the individuals who participate and their companies, which allow and enable their participation. They are giving the industry the gift of their time and intelligence. We are most appreciative.
Gathered from five continents, it is our great privilege and extraordinary pleasure to announce the Thought-Leader panel for 2017 edition of The New York Produce Show and Conference:
The Fresh MARKET
Mark has been Vice President of Merchandising – Produce, Floral and Gift at The Fresh Market since January 2017. He brings more than 35 years of experience within the Produce industry serving various functions, including operations, purchasing and merchandising. In his current role, his priorities are to elevate the standards of freshness and quality and to drive innovation within the Produce category. Mark’s experience and leadership have been recognized within the industry. He serves on the board of directors for the Fresh Produce and Floral Council in the Western U.S., and has chaired or served on various committees in the industry. A recent transplant to the east coast, Mark resides in Greensboro, NC with his wife of 38 years.
PF Chang’s Bistro
Robin, the Category Manager for PF Chang’s Bistro, is a produce industry veteran with more than 25 years’ experience in purchasing, sales and business development. Her current responsibilities include all Agriculture purchases for both PF Chang’s and Pei Wei brand. Prior to joining PF Chang’s, Robin worked for Boston Market in Golden, CO. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Produce Marketing Association and its Foodservice Committee.
Robin is a Colorado native and a graduate of the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Marc started his career at Waldbaums in 1978, where he worked for 10 years until opening his own foodservice wholesale business. Eventually, he took a position with Food Emporium, where he worked for three years.
Marc joined Morton Williams for the first time as a produce manager more than 15 years ago. While he briefly left the company to join Shoprite, he returned to his current position at Morton Williams seven years ago.
Amy has worked in the UK retail sector for nearly 10 years, previously in commercial and technical roles at Tesco and Waitrose. Last year, Amy worked with fresh produce businesses in Senegal, South Africa, and the U.S. Amy has now taken on a new challenge at box-delivery service HelloFresh, recently named as the fastest-growing company in Europe, where she is now working as head of technical.
Ed is the Robert G. Tobin Professor of Marketing at the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, where he also serves as Director of the Food Industry Management Program.
Ed’s research interests include: retailing strategies, linking customer satisfaction to firm performance and the economics of retailing and fresh food marketing. His research appears in numerous academic journals.
In addition, Ed teaches retailing at the Graduate School of Management in Lille, France; is the Adjunct Professor of Retailing at Nyenrode, The Netherlands School of Business; is Founding Director of the Ahold Retail Academy in The Netherlands; and the Dean of the Cornell Retail Management Program in Japan.
Ed has won several national awards for both his research and teaching and is the author or co-author of three books. He also serves on the boards of several public and private organizations.
Tony has been associated with McCaffrey’s Markets as Produce Director of Operations the 17 past years. His responsibilities include all phases of produce and floral operations, which involve retail merchandising, procurement, advertising, development of new products and sales strategies.
His personal mission is to deliver excitement and enthusiasm to the produce and floral industries and the future directions in his own inspiring way. His expertise is in produce and floral merchandising, motivation, marketing strategies and training.
He started in retail supermarkets as produce manager before becoming produce merchandising specialist for Fleming Foods. From there, Tony worked his way into the buying office of Rich Foods/ Norristown Wholesale as a buyer of Specialty and Organic produce. He is currently produce/ floral director of McCaffrey Markets, an independent progressive supermarket chain with stores in PA and NJ specializing in high-end perishables, specialty products and extraordinary customer service.
Sharon has been immersed in marketing for the food industry for more than 30 years. She was Vice President at two leading foodservice agencies prior to forming Olson Communications in 1988 and the Culinary Visions Panel in 2002 that surveys opinion leaders and consumers on emerging trends in the food industry. She is also co-founder of Y-Pulse LLC (ypulse.org), a youth trend tracking organization.
Sharon often speaks on trends in the food industry, most recently presenting new original research at the National Restaurant Association Show, Culinary Institute of America, National Association of College and University Food Services National Conference and The Flavor Experience. She is also a frequent contributor to leading business publications on the foodservice industry and consumer trends. She is past president of Les Dames d’Escoffier Chicago, the local chapter of a worldwide society for women in the food and beverage industry. Recently Sharon was elected to Treasurer at Les Dames d'Escoffier.
She holds an MBA with distinction from Keller Graduate School of Management and has served on the advisory board for the Hotel and Restaurant Program at Ashland University.
Alpha 1 Marketing
Josh is currently the Produce Operations Coordinator (Produce Director) for Alpha 1 Marketing in White Plains, NY, the retail services arm for Krasdale Foods. He has more than 17 years of Produce Retail Management experience with several Fortune 500 retailers, including Whole Foods, Weis Supermarkets and A&P.
Josh directs the produce operations of the company, which has more than 300 independently owned and operated stores in the New York metro area and in Florida, writing the weekly produce ads for various banners, such as Bravo, C-town Supermarkets, DeCicco Family Markets and others. He oversees the Produce Merchandising team, the category management and buying of the department and setting produce standards. He also creates training programs and sales opportunities for increased produce sales.Josh is a member of PMA’s Center for Growing Talent, the Eastern Produce Council, United Fresh and Southeast Produce Council. In 2015, he was named by Produce Business to its prestigious 40 Under 40 class of rising stars in the produce industry.
C&S Wholesale Grocers
Jon is a Senior Procurement Manager at C&S Wholesale Grocers in Keene, NH. He is responsible for the procurement of produce list cost categories as well as their merchandising activity. He also handles special projects and business startups. Jon joined the company in 2005. He has an MBA from Clarkson University and a bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University. He is an avid cyclist, competes in triathlons and completed his first Ironman in 2015.
Tony, the Vice-President of Fresh Merchandising at Peapod, Chicago, comes from a long line of people passionate about food. Tony’s family goes back more than 100 years in the Produce industry. His great-grandfather was one of the largest buyers and sellers of lemons and oranges in the U.S. Some say he was bigger than Sunkist at the time.
Tony’s fresh-food history began at age 5, when, after church, Tony and his father would travel to the terminal produce market to repack tomatoes for the Monday morning business. Each summer thereafter, Tony worked at the market. The market at that time was a collection of jobbers (or merchants) who sold to independent grocery stores, wholesalers delivering to restaurants, and peddlers who typically sold their products out of the back of their trucks. Tony learned the art of buying produce from his father, who would bring him along each morning as he did his daily purchases and working alongside chefs as they honed their trade. This “Produce Guru” has been in training for more than 40 years!
After 20 years in the family business, Tony started his own food consulting firm in 1996 with Scotty’s Home Market (online grocer) as one of his customers. Tony helped raise a $10 million investment for Scotty’s from Nordstrom. In 1998, Tony went to work for Scotty’s as the Vice President of Merchandising. In October of 2000, Scotty’s/Streamline was bought by Peapod–Ahold. At Peapod, he has helped Peapod grow into the largest, most-successful internet grocer in America.
Tony has standing television segments on ABC 7 in Chicago and is an annual lecturer at Cornell’s Produce Executive Development Program.
As Associate Vice President for Yale Hospitality, Rafi provides strategic vision and leadership for the hospitality and dining programs at Yale University in New Haven, CT. He ensures that its dining experiences, food, operations, standards and vision reflect the world-class reputation of one of the world’s most-renowned institutions of higher learning.
Yale Hospitality serves more than 15,000 meals per day with a staff of 840, including culinary, service, management and clerical personnel. Rafi’s organization is comprised of three operational divisions with shared business and administrative support and an annual budget of $54 million.
Since 2008, Rafi has guided the continued development of Yale Hospitality’s well-known sustainability, culinary and nutrition initiatives by merging principals of a healthy plant-based Mediterranean diet with an operational approach that promotes sustainability and regionally based food systems. He is a key member of industry councils and advisory boards and promotes collaboration among operators, manufactures, distributors and growers to address key strategic food system concerns and initiatives.
Rafi’s contributions were acknowledged by his foodservice industry peers in 2016 when he was awarded IFMA’s Silver and Gold Plate Awards. He has received numerous other awards for his vision and leadership in implementing innovative hospitality programs, including Yale University’s Seton Elm-Ivy Award in 2016, NACUFS Horton Awards in 2013, 2014 and 2016 for residential and catering events, FARE’s 2016 Excellence in Leadership, Food Service Director of the Year in 2013 and the Illuminating Excellence and Leadership recognition from Premier in 2014.
John is the Director of Merchandising-Produce for D’Agostino Supermarkets in New York City. He is responsible for all sales-related decisions for produce merchandising, such as item selection, quality control, presentation standards, pricing and promotions.
John started his career at D’Agostino’s in 1971 as a part-time delivery and stock clerk. He performed various job functions throughout the store and worked his way up to the position of store manager by 1978. During this period, John successfully ran a number of stores throughout Manhattan. In 1985, John was promoted to the position of produce director. Since then, John has had stints as director of deli/bake and meat/seafood, where he gained valuable knowledge in the workings of these perishable departments. John is also a director of the Eastern Produce Council.
Fruitday Co., Ltd
Loren is the Co-Founder of Fruitday Co., Ltd., Shanghai, which is China’s largest fresh fruit e-commerce company in terms of sales revenue. Fruitday provides an end-to-end, home-delivery service to ensure customers receive products two days from ordering. Fruitday has six distribution centers, and its fresh-delivery service covers more than 300 cities in China and has more than 5 million members. Pioneering omnichannel retailing in China, recently Fruitday invested in City Shop a high-end supermarket chain with locations in Shanghai and Beijing. Fruitday now offers its more than 100 million online users a physical experience center at City Shop while offering overseas fresh produce suppliers a more direct reach to the Chinese consumer.
Come and be inspired at the Thought-Leader Breakfast and then apply the inspiration to commercial success at the tradeshow!
You can register for the event right here.
If you need a hotel room, please let us know here.
You can learn more about the show at our website, which you can find right here.
It all happens… Only in New York!
With all the excitement during the trade show hours at The New York Produce Show and Conference -- with activities ranging from vendors meeting buyers, students being mentored, chefs doing demos, consumer media immersion, the culinary-student education programs and much more – it is sometimes difficult for people to pull themselves away to catch a workshop.
But it is well worth the time commitment. We have been fortunate to have worked with many of the speakers for years, and they just never fail to exceed every expectation:
Cornell’s Ed McLaughlin just did a similar standing-room-only presentation at our Amsterdam event, which we wrote up:
Cornell’s Ed McLaughlin — Leading Authority On Global Retailing — To Keynote Amsterdam Produce Show And Conference: ‘DISRUPTION AT RETAIL’ … What Whole Foods, Amazon, Lidl, Aldi And Wal-Mart Mean For The Produce Industry
Tom Reardon from Michigan State University, who does a kind of global research nobody else does, has keynoted our Global Trade Symposium, and we wrote that up as well:
Global Trade Symposium Keynote Speaker, Professor Tom Reardon, Will Discuss The Rapid Transformation, And Increasing Opportunities, Of Produce Markets In Emerging Countries
Ben Campbell from the University of Georgia is a bright young academic, and we have profiled his work with pieces such as these:
Setting Producers Free — Production Agriculture And The Regulatory Burden:
Can States Help Northeast Production Thrive? Are They Inclined To Do So?
Perceptions And Misperceptions: Consumer Attitudes On Organic And Local — University Of Connecticut Study To Be Unveiled At New York Produce Show and Conference
Connecticut Professor Ben Campbell Comes Back To The New York Produce Show With Seminal Work On Consumer Reaction To The Marketing Of Locally Grown Produce
Rick Stein of FMI has graced the stage many times, and we detailed his efforts with pieces such as these:
Unique In Approach, FMI Research Answers Questions For Retailers And Producers With New Disclosures At Amsterdam Produce Show And Conference
FMI’s Deep Dive Into The Power of Produce: Research On Consumer Behavior Before, During And After Purchase To Be Discussed At New York Produce Show
We profiled Brad Rickard’s presentation for this year:
Important Research On Food Waste Unveiled At New York Produce Show: Cornell’s Brad Rickard Dives Into The Question Of Whether Zero Food Waste Is Good For Overall Health (Or The Produce Industry)
And Miguel Gómez’s presentations have been profiled before:
Professor Miguel Gómez Returns To The New York Produce Show And Conference To Unveil A New Study That Points Out A Path For Getting More Produce Into Hospitals
Cornell Professor Miguel Gómez To Speak At New York Produce Show And Conference On Fruit & Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation
A New Hypothesis On Local: To Boost Sales, Sell It Through Supermarkets … Cornell’s Miguel Gómez Previews His Upcoming Talk At The New York Produce Show And Conference
Cornell Professors To Present At The New York Produce Show And Conference: New Ways of Thinking About Local: Can The East Coast Develop A Broccoli Industry?
John Bovay from the University of Connecticut will also join us again this year, and you can see his presentation on Food Safety from last year’s show right here.
And Rutgers is contributing two new people to the program: Karl Matthews, a world-renowned expert on food safety, and Jenny Carleo, who has a really interesting new study on Organics to share with attendees.
It is with great pleasure that we unveil this year’s Micro-session line-up at The New York Produce Show and Conference:
EDUCATIONAL MICRO SESSIONS
Wednesday: 10:15 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Jacob Javits Center Hall 1C
Educational Micro-session Stage
10:15 a.m. – 11 a.m. | WHERE CONSUMERS SHOP AND WHAT CONSUMERS VALUE:
A COMPARISON BETWEEN ETHNIC GROUPS
Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Applied
Economics, University of Georgia
The presentation will focus on understanding how purchase behavior and perceptions about labeling differ between different ethnic groups. Notably on the purchase behavior side, we look at where different ethnic groups purchase their produce, how far they travel to purchase produce and how much they spend on produce at different retail establishments. With respect to perceptions, we compare how ethnic groups perceive GMOs, local produce and organic production practices. Finally, we evaluate the frequency of purchasing of various produce items by different ethnic groups. The purpose of the research is to highlight differences that exist among ethnic groups in order to offer recommendations for producers and retailers to understand behaviors of different types of consumers.
11 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. | CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT
AGRICULTURE (CEA): AN EMERGING SYSTEM TO GROW FRESH PRODUCE IN THE NORTHEASTERN U.S.
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
The Northeastern U.S. has a short growing season which, according to mainstream views, limits the ability of the regions to meet consumer demand for year-round locally grown food. However, the rapid emergence of Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) enterprises is challenging this view. This presentation will discuss emerging trends in CEA businesses in the Northeast, the opportunities and challenges for the CEA. The primary opportunities are strong demand for local produce and stricter production control to ensure high quality produce. Intensive capital requirements, availability of skilled and unskilled labor and processing and marketing infrastructures are the main challenges of this growing industry.
11:45 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. | ERSTANDING ASIAN CONSUMERS AND THEIR PRODUCE PREFERENCES AND SHOPPING BEHAVIOR
Professor International Development and Agribusiness/Food Industry Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Tom has been studying Asian produce supply chains and consumption patterns and trends for 15 years using a detailed primary field survey approach. He will discuss Asian produce consumption trends and preferences, as well as transformation of the retail sector that presents consumers their produce options.
12:30 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. | DISRUPTIONS IN THE FOOD RETAIL LANDSCAPE: IMPLICATIONS FOR FRESH PRODUCE
Director of the Food Industry Management Program, Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
The food industry continues to be one of the most dynamic sectors within the economies of industrialized countries, reflecting ever-changing consumer behavior and preferences for food.
However, today, the food retail sector is arguably experiencing more radical change and disruption to its structure and conduct than at any time in its history.
Ed’s presentation will summarize three main and recent disruptions: (1) the rise of the discounters; (2) the Amazon-Whole Foods deal; and (3) Wal-Mart’s dominance and strategic reaction to (1) and (2).
All three disruptions will reverberate through the food industry for years to come, with game-changing implications for both produce suppliers and retailers.
Ed’s presentation will explore this fascinating new landscape and speculate about likely future scenarios.
1:15 pm – 2 pm | FOOD WASTE, DATE LABELS, AND CONSUMPTION OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Associate Professor, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
In a recent op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, Prof. Marc Bellemare highlights that as food becomes an increasingly small fraction of a household’s budget, wasting food becomes cheaper relative to other expenditures, and that the optimal amount of food waste is not zero. In addition, our research suggests that different policies designed to reduce food waste may affect food consumption differently across food groups. Comparing results from a series of lab experiments and surveys on food waste to average rates of food waste in the United States, we find evidence that adoption of some date-labeling approaches have the capacity to lead to increased intake of fruits and vegetables and better overall nutritional outcomes.
2 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. | FOOD MARKETING INSTITUTE PRESENTS: THE POWER OF FOODSERVICE AT RETAIL, AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT THE ROLE PRODUCE PLAYS IN CONSUMER’S HUNT FOR CONVENIENT MEALS.
Vice President Fresh Foods, Food Marketing Institute
Once again, FMI advances the dialogue and understanding of the Power of Produce. This session will take the discussion further and will show how produce is used to lift sales in one of the supermarket’s most important perishables departments – Retail/Foodservice.
2:45 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. | UNDERSTANDING CONSUMERS
Jenny S. Carleo
County Agent II / Associate Professor, Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, New Brunswick, NJ
This presentation will discuss the results of a new marketing survey of 1,100 primary shoppers. This study documents the demographic profile of typical organic produce consumers in the mid-Atlantic region and their willingness to pay for organic produce. The results also specify which organic products they purchase the most frequently and which items they are willing to purchase at a premium.
3:30 p.m. – 4:15 p.m. | GMO AND NON-GMO FOOD LABELS: IMPLICATIONS OF THE NEW FEDERAL LAW FOR GROWERS, MARKETERS, AND CONSUMERS
Assistant professor and extension economist, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics,
University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
In July 2016, the U.S. Congress passed Senate Bill 764, which requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish a national disclosure standard for genetically engineered (GE) foods, as a compromise between forces pressing for a much stricter labeling law versus forces that opposed mandatory labeling laws altogether. The legislation, now known as Public Law 114-216, also preempts states from setting their own standards for mandatory GE labels. This presentation will discuss the implementation of the new law and its potential economic consequences. The presentation also will discuss non-GMO labels and possible strategies that growers and retailers may take in response to the new federal law.
4:15 p.m. – 5 p.m. | PROCESSING OF PRODUCE IN FOOD ESTABLISHMENTS — IMPLICATIONS ON MICROBIAL SAFETY
Ph.D., Professor of Food Microbiology and Chair, Department of Food Science, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Matthews, who is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Food Safety, has been conducting research associated with the processing of fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables in food establishments. Specifically, the focus has been on washing and crisping of commodities (i.e., head lettuce, cantaloupe, etc.) in supermarkets and the impact of using an antimicrobial in the water to control cross-contamination. Many establishments do not use an added antimicrobial in the water. Presently, the FDA food code indicates that a chemical treatment may be used when washing/soaking a commodity. The processes used in food establishments are very different from commercial produce processors and must be addressed as such. It is not a one-shoe-fits-all or one-process scenario.
This event is about learning as well as earning. In fact, we have found they are one and the same. Success in business depends on having a competitive advantage and what you know, that your competitors don’t, is a big advantage.
Come join us and The New York Produce Show and Conference. Come learn… and come learn!
You can register here.
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It is all happening…Only in new York!
Certain individuals are so consistently engaged in interesting work that you just know you want them. That is the way it is with Brad Rickard... when we heard he had an interesting research project to discuss we signed him up immediately and asked Pundit investigator and special Projects Editor Mira Slott to find out more:
Associate Professor of
Applied Economics and Management at
Ithaca, New York
Q: Seasoned New York and London Produce Show attendees are quite familiar with your riveting and meticulously layered, science-based seminars, which always stimulate debate and thought-provoking ideas:
Cornell Professor Brad Rickard
Returns To London To Unveil New Study:
QUANTITY, VALUE AND DIVERSITY —
The 10-Year Evolution Of Consumer Purchase Preferences For Packaged Produce
Can Labeling Impact Food Waste?
Is Zero Waste The Optimal Standard?
Cornell’s Brad Rickard To Present New Research At The London Produce Show And Conference
What’s in A Word? Sell By, Use By, Best By And Fresh By… Can A Word Alter Food Waste Significantly? Cornell’s Brad Rickard Speaks Out
Cornell’s Brad Rickard Returns To The New York Produce Show And Conference: Will 'GMO Free' Be The New Organic?
What’s In A Name? Professor Brad Rickard Of Cornell Produces New Research That Indicates Shakespeare May Have Been In Error… On Apples At Least
Cornell’s Brad Rickard To Unveil Generic Produce Promotion Research Done By Cornell And Arizona State University At New York Produce Show And Conference
Your upcoming talk abstract intimates a further extension and deeper dive into the ground-breaking research you’ve undertaken related to issues of food waste, date labels and produce consumption.
A: In a recent op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, University of Minnesota Professor Marc Bellemare highlights his study that as food becomes an increasingly small fraction of a household’s budget, wasting food becomes cheaper relative to other expenditures, and that the optimal amount of food waste is not zero. In addition, our research suggests that different policies designed to reduce food waste may affect food consumption differently across food groups.
Q: In what ways exactly?
A: Comparing results from a series of lab experiments and surveys on food waste to average rates of food waste in the United States, we find evidence that adoption of some date-labeling approaches have the capacity to lead to increased intake of fruits and vegetables and better overall nutritional outcomes.
Q: You’ve proven date-labeling approaches can be quite influential in consumer purchasing decisions of produce items as well as in other product categories, according to fascinating research you’ve presented in the past… So your most recent study results could provide important guidance to industry executives on labeling and marketing strategies?
A: Recently I gave a similar presentation out at the University of Rhode Island, more for an academic audience but its real-world applications are a great fit for the New York Produce Show. We’re still involved in a fairly big USDA grant that looks at food waste, mostly among households, consumers wasting food at home, and decisions they’re making about wasting food. This is not targeting food waste from farmers in the field or in retail. It also has to do with different strategies, initiatives and government proposals people are thinking about to reduce food waste across different types of food.
Q: Does this involve consumer shopping patterns and purchase decisions?
A: We’ve set up our data collection where people have already purchased the food, and it’s now in their home, in the pantry or fridge, and they’re making food choices. It’s really less about purchasing food and more about using food. They have food in front of them and they are choosing whether to use it, waste it, use part of it… and what factors go into making that decision.
What type of food is it, is it packaged, is it processed, does it have food safety concerns, and is the quality important? We look at different foods across different product categories; for instance, we look at packaged salad greens and table grapes, tomato sauce in the jar, ham, dairy products, orange juice…
Q: How do you decide what products to include and analyze?
A: We’ve done different surveys with different products, but generally speaking, we try to pick products that fall into a range of food categories. If you think of the food pyramid, with meat, dairy, grains, fruits and vegetables, etc., we always try to have a mix of products from those food groups.
In one survey, we have rice, another we have bread, and sometimes a breakfast cereal to represent carbs, for example. We’ve looked at different packaged fruits and vegetables. As you know, packaged fruits and vegetables are much more common in Europe than in the U.S., but more and more produce is sold in some type of package with a UPC code and date label with expiration or use-by date, use-before date, etc. We do surveys with meat and have spent quite a bit of time looking at dairy products, eggs as well. It could be fresh milk, fluid milk, cheese, or yogurt … products that have information on them guiding consumers when to eat the food. Some sort of a date label.
Q: So this continues from the research you’ve done in the past…
A: This research is an extension of that.
That’s the other part. We have different food products, and then we use different label treatments, sometimes language -- best-by, or use-by — and sometimes we put little bio sensors on the products to show freshness of the product. It’s not as common in the U.S. Are you familiar with these?
Q: Yes. In fact, I remember a product launch of sensors on packaged pears at a PMA Show many years ago, where the package would change color to indicate its level of freshness, but I don’t think it really took off. Retailers expressed lukewarm reception to the idea, hesitant to risk such consumer package alerts lining their shelves.
A: We’re also finding consumers a little apprehensive about this technology, and they sort through those packages more so than the packages that have the text, or the best-by or use-by label. We did include biosensors in our study as another way to communicate product freshness, product quality and product safety.
Q: But your direction or objective has changed now from your past studies?
A: We’ve done little pieces of this, and we’re even borrowing some of our data we’ve collected earlier on consumer response to different date labels. But the idea here is different. The question is slightly different. Now we’re less concerned about food waste per se. A lot of people who study food waste look for a label or solution to help society reduce food waste in general… there is too much quantity, or dollars, or calories of food being wasted depending what your objective is.
If you’re worried about food insecurity, you could be worried about all the calories wasted; if you’re more concerned about the environment, you may be concerned about the tons of food being sent to landfills. Here we’re taking it one step forward: If we’re wasting food, and if governments and food companies adopt one strategy versus another, how does it affect the food being wasted or consumed? And then, more importantly, we’re breaking that food into calories and as a final step into nutrients.
How are we wasting food across these different food categories? Essentially, we’re wasting certain macro- and micro-nutrients. And the truth is some of those nutrients are better for us than others.
Q: Can you define macro- and micro-nutrients?
A: Macro nutrients would be fats, carbs, fiber, protein, and then, within fats, you can think of saturated and unsaturated fats. A lot of people think of cholesterol as a macro nutrient. And micro nutrients would be various vitamins and minerals, Vitamin A, C, E, iron calcium, zinc… The fact is a lot of food is a combination of these macro- and micro-nutrients.
Q: And fruits and vegetables fare exceedingly well in those macro and micro combinations… so there could be advantages to selectively focus on where to reduce food waste?
A: Fruits and vegetables are especially rich in fiber, which is notable since a lot of other foods don’t have fiber. They are naturally low in fats, they do contain carbs, but are rich in many of the micro-nutrients. With current food patterns in the U.S., we are actually wasting a lot of food heavy in fats, in sugar and carbs. I’ll provide statistics at the Show. Food waste is a problem, it’s an issue, but when you look at nutrient content, generally speaking we’re wasting food disproportionately towards the less healthy items.
Q: That could be viewed as a positive!
A: That’s what I want to point out. Food waste is an issue, but at least we’re wasting the foods that are not as good for you. You transform the whole discussion of food waste goals when you break down the numbers in that way… it’s really opening a new paradigm in food waste solutions.
If you were to have some policy change of information to influence food waste, there are different ways to do that.
Q: So, it is critical to ask if you adopt these different strategies, what kinds of effects will they have on food consumption and more importantly on nutrient consumption?
A: I try to motivate it this way. One solution people propose is to move to zero food waste. Professor Bellemare makes a really good case why a zero food waste policy may not be the optimal policy. He suggested it’s not optimal because it might not be economically efficient. There are arguments that having some amount of food waste, maybe not the amount we have today, could be economically efficient, and he makes a convincing case for that. There could be some benefits that outweigh the costs of having that food waste.
I’m expanding on that, showing there may also be nutritional health reasons why some food waste may be good. If we were to reduce food waste across the board for all kinds of food, it could be the case systematic cuts on all categories may end up steering society toward making less healthy food consumption choices. If consumers are disproportionally wasting foods higher in fat and simple carbs that are less healthy to begin with, you may become complicit in encouraging more consumption of those foods.
Q: Was the impetus of your study to address that irony? What was your hypothesis going in? Could you walk us through the research?
A: We’re trying to show that some of these date-labeling strategies and types of communications may steer people toward wasting less of the foods that are good for you. If your objective is to reduce tons of food waste, then maybe a zero policy might do that. If you’re also trying to be mindful some food waste is ok, and that other food waste might be better to target, it’s a policy decision that may have two objectives.
What we’re finding, through our consumer surveys, is that food manufacturers can influence types of food waste through date labeling.
A: When we show respondents packages with a use-by label and best-by label on the same package, it provides people more information and more clarity to decide if they should use the food or throw it away. For instance, a package could say best by five days from now, and also use by 10 days from now, i.e., the quality is there for five days, and safety is there for 10 days. We think giving consumers this type of information in this format alleviates confusion.
When consumers are uncertain, and they see a best-by or a use-by, they’re not sure what it means, and the easy default is to throw the food out. We’ve tried this with bio sensors, and with use-by and best-by labels on the same package. It doesn’t necessarily reduce food waste as much as some other initiatives, but it’s an effective targeted approach.
Q: What are the other initiatives you’re referencing?
A: The best example is when the government mandates for zero food waste. The State of Vermont is getting closer to it, finding ways commercially and for households to reduce food waste and have a point in the future where you get to zero food waste. It’s difficult to do and expensive, especially in rural areas, where you need to go in to communities to collect food scraps… And it’s ultimately hard to get to this zero food waste.
Q: The logistics can often be prohibitive or not economically viable from a business sustainability standpoint. I’ve learned of these challenges over many years of interviewing progressive retailers, who we’ve honored with our annual Produce Business Retail Sustainability Award…
A: More practically would be initiatives to harmonize information we put on food to communicate food quality and food safety --to harmonize all date labels to say when the food expires, or all saying use-by or best-by, or bio sensor wheels to indicate freshness. Currently in the retail environment, you’ll see a great mixture of these so-called date labels on food. And there’s quite a bit of sentiment these date labels are creating confusion with consumers.
The initiative we are most interested in is putting best-by and use-by on the same products. This is not terribly common in the U.S., but more common in other parts of the world. You may see it on deli meat, where you have the price on the front, and some retailers will list one date when it is packaged suggesting when to safely use-by and another to suggest food quality best-by.
Q: Did your study results indicate a significant difference in food waste based on the double label approach?
A: When we do surveys with that approach, the total food waste doesn’t fall overall, but it falls disproportionally with the healthy diet; the amount of waste of fruits and vegetables and dairy products goes down the most when people have more information.
If your objective is just to reduce food waste across all food categories, the language use-by will be the most effective. However, it won’t lead to an increase in consumption of fruits and vegetables.
If you harmonize labels with best-by, it will reduce food waste in a fairly substantial way, but it won’t reduce food waste of fruits and vegetables to the same degree as using both best-by and use-by on the same package.
Q: Could you provide statistics and further perspective on the relative impacts? Do you have a sliding scale of food waste Pros and Cons from a health and nutrition aspect?
A: At the Show, I can provide a rank ordering of types of labeling and how each relates to quantity of food waste overall versus the most healthy tradeoff.
If you’re interested in reducing food waste quantity, think about moving toward a zero food waste program or using language ‘use-by’ on packages all by itself. Those are initiatives that lead to less food waste across the board, both healthy and unhealthy food products, but disproportionally increase consumption of unhealthier food items.
If you follow the date-label strategy of best-by on the package, and, even better yet, best-by and use-by together, it won’t decrease food waste as much, but it is going to decrease food waste deemed healthier; notably fruits and vegetables.
Q: In the big picture, what numbers are we talking about here? Could you break down food waste by categories? How big a slice is produce in the food waste pie?
A: When you look at categories, meat is highest for food waste. But the numbers are different if you’re interested in quantity, value, and calories.
Q: Excellent point. How do things change in each of those instances? I imagine you’ll see dramatic differences…
A: If you look at dollars of waste, meat is the biggest -- $50 billion of meat products. Fruit is $20 billion, and vegetables account for $30 billion. Dairy is $30 billion. But if you look at calories, added sugar is $6 billion of food waste, and added fat is $13 billion. If you look at calories, added fats are 30 percent of total food waste, and added sugar is 20 percent of wasted calories.
To put things in perspective, added sugar and added fats together account for 12 percent of total dollars of food wasted, and fruits and vegetables are about 30 percent of total dollars of food wasted.
Q: Fruits and vegetables must shine when you pull out the numbers for calories…
A: When you go to calories, added sugar and added fat is 50 percent of wasted calories. Fruits and vegetables are only 6 percent to 7 percent of wasted calories, very different in terms of value when looking at calories. You’ll see from those numbers, the calories we waste is in the form of added fat and sugar. Any effort to reduce food waste in some capacity will lead to some consumption deemed unhealthy.
Q: Going back to your research, your results indicate a two-fold use-by/best-by labeling approach on packages encourages less produce waste. Have you accounted for variances in demographics, income levels, and also the commodity, what size packaging, etc.?
Perhaps when it comes to fresh produce as opposed to a jar of tomato sauce, consumers just look at the bagged salad leaves through the clear package, and if the leaves are brown and wilted, they throw it away regardless of the date label. After all, the reality is that increasing produce consumption encompasses many variables…
A: These are all points of discussion. For instance, it’s not clear to me why when people see a certain label it impacts their consumption. I hope this seminar will be the start of conversation. What are the business implications for industry executives on the retail and supply side? Different types of legislation to reduce food waste will mandate the way manufacturers label products, and those products will enter the retail space, influencing the decisions consumers make in the store, and from our latest research, the ones they make in their home. Retailers recognize this is an issue and will think of situations where products will be labeled for more harmonization in their stores.
I’ll be looking for feedback from the audience at the Show. Do they expect consumers to behave in the ways we found in our work?
Q: With the diversity of attendees at the Show, I imagine you’ll get a range of feedback.
A: When we do consumer surveys, we collect information on demographics and describe the type of shopper. We’ve been talking average index, some act in a stronger or weaker way; it depends on a lot of things, how connected a consumer is with food in general, in buying and preparing food… a lot can be adjusted to account for where the consumer lives in the country, the education level, how old they are…etc. It could boil down to how connected the consumer is to the food, to their investment in preparing the food, in reading the labels on the food… But I’m trying to average out these effects.
What our research suggests is that initiatives being discussed in Congress and within different states will impact food waste in different ways. What leads to the greatest reduction in food waste might not lead to the healthiest consumption. Reducing food waste is important, but one initiative can change the composition of what we eat, even if it doesn’t reduce food waste as much as it leads to a more healthy food base. There is this trade off, and policy people and business people must be mindful.
I haven’t dug into the implications for food retailers, as much as for manufacturers and consumers.
It will be interesting to engage retailers, the middle link in my story of looking at food waste initiatives and what is best for society.
Q: While your research spans a wide scope, the issues of food waste are often an interconnected factor in some way. Your London Produce Show topic last June focused on consumer shopping patterns of packaged fruits and vegetables at retail, where you ran statistical models to understand who’s buying what, and why. At the end you touched on implications related to food waste, foreshadowing your New York Produce Show talk.
A: In London, most of the discussion was regarding the patterns and breadth of purchase in packaged fruits and vegetables, and looking at how people make decisions and how the socio economic groups are changing in that regard. I connected the discussion back to this food waste issue, which is a nice segue to my NY Show talk. This research very much feeds into that.
Q: Where will your future research lead you? Will you delve in further with this research model or branch out to a different area?
A: I want to take on different food products to see if we can confirm our initial results. Right now we have a subset of five to ten products. I’d like to expand the study to do more surveys with consumers and see if the results for packaged salad greens and table grapes also hold for packaged apples and other produce items, and similarly in other product categories. There is a broad range of products, and we want to be sure not to extrapolate.
Congress is having these discussions now about food waste. When you make a decision about solving one problem, there are related problems and unintended consequences. Food waste is one problem and unhealthy eating habits are another. Are there solutions to fixing one problem while also fixing the other?
Two big issues distort the effort to make optimal public policy.
One is the penchant for using loaded language.The very term “waste” is not neutral. It implies a negative and that one should stop doing it. If we say that a child is wasting his time rather than doing his homework or exercising or learning to play a musical instrument, we mean he should stop wasting his time and do something productive.
But such terminology is inappropriately applied to the food chain. If a farmer leaves some of his crop in the field, in almost every instance, it is because the cost of harvesting that food is more than the food is worth. Once in this Pundit’s early days in the business, we had a growing operation in Puerto Rico that grew honeydew melons, peppers, tomatoes, etc. Normally we might do two pickings, which is go through the field twice during the season to harvest the peppers. But, one year, there was a bad freeze in Florida and the price of pepper zoomed, so we were doing seventh and eighth pickings and harvesting tiny little bell peppers that, under normal circumstances, we would have left in the field.
Since people always are eating, to say it is not worth harvesting is to say that we can get peppers cheaper some other place. So harvesting peppers below market prices – or anything else that doesn’t make economic sense -- is exactly the same as “wasting” money.
Now there is a biblical admonition for a farmer to allow the gleaning of his fields by the poor. Food safety rules have made this problematic, but, even aside from that, the disjunction between where poor people live and where crops are grown, makes this not very useful. Typically, the cost of the actual produce item in the field or on the tree is substantially less than the cost to pick, pack, transport and market the item. So, to avoid “waste” of produce, one would be wasting fuel, labor, all the things that go into the cost of picking, packing, shipping, etc.
Such conflicts are obvious on the business side of the produce industry, but no less real in the home, with consumers.
The second big problem when looking to create public policy on matters such as this is to focus on one thing and nothing else.We see this on issues such as health care. If one focuses solely on the actual medical bill, one may be misled. If the expense of medical care slows down appointments, for example, it might increase human suffering, or make care less effective or increase the cost for families and other caregivers to go to multiple appointments.
For the fresh produce industry, this can be of great concern. If the only issue is food waste, consumers might well be better off buying only frozen or canned product. These are less likely to spoil. But surely that is not the end of the story. The whole idea of capitalism is that human happiness can be enhanced by free exchange. So, if we have a hammer and you have a sickle, but we really enjoy sickles and you are just in love with hammers, an exchange can be made and the world is wealthier and more prosperous, even though material conditions have not changed.
So, if we have some fresh vegetables that we are planning to use this weekend, but Professor Rickard surprises us with an invitation to hang out at his place up in Ithaca this weekend, we will go and let the food go to waste. The happiness we would derive from sharing friendship and collegiality with the good professor, his wife and children is far more valuable to us than some ageing lettuce.
So, this single-handed focus on food waste is rather bizarre. Toward what purpose? Shouldn’t the goal be maximizing human happiness? And what evidence is there that reducing food waste is an important component of that? And isn’t the single best way of maximizing human happiness based on the price mechanism? Doesn’t that tell us what we really value?
Even if one values helping the poor above all else, precisely what evidence do we have that if people stopped buying fresh and only bought canned and frozen -- thus reducing food waste substantially – what reason do we have to think that poor people would eat better? To the extent that poor people are not able to buy food now, the reduction of food waste by consumers would mean that they would buy less, but because production is not limited by productive capacity, it is limited by the availability of customers willing and able to pay a price that exceeds the cost of production.
Professor Rickard’s work poses a most intriguing question when it comes to values, which is what is really “worth more.” If a fast food chain offers to “supersize” your order – but the large Coca-Cola or fries is beyond the calories you want to consume – is it a “better value” or in putting undesired temptation to over-eat right before your eyes, is it possible that the offer is worse and of lower value than serving what you actually want to consume?
So, this insight that “waste” skews toward less healthy items raises the question of whether waste is really something we should be trying to avoid, at least once it is in the home. If people smell the wafting scent of delicious baked goods and buy a lot of pretty empty carbs, then, once at home and out of the environment of the store, they reconsider and decline to eat the cake – isn’t that a good thing?
Lots of us have parents, grandparents or great grandparents who brought us up insisting we finish everything on our plates. There were, after all, starving children in Europe during World War II. Of course, then, as now, there was no direct connection between finishing one’s plate and feeding children in Europe – or Asia or Africa. But more importantly, that form of child-rearing has fallen out of fashion. Experts say don’t push your children to eat more if they are not hungry – that encourages obesity!
Of course, informing consumers in a way they understand is a good idea so they can make the best decisions. The two-tier warnings that Professor Rickard is testing seem to be preferred to one warning or the other. We would encourage a future study to try using actual English sentences as opposed to Use-By and Sell-By, which are inherently ambiguous.
How about actually saying what we mean: “This product will maintain optimal flavor until X date” or “Even if sealed and properly refrigerated, do not eat this product after X date”.
When Tesco came to America as Fresh & Easy, it started marking dates on fresh produce, even “hardware” items that had not been dated before. Anecdotal consumer response was that it seemed to hurt sales, not help them. Even though the items didn’t expire any faster than at other stores, putting on a date seemed to raise the consciousness of the consumer that they were buying something that they needed to worry about going bad.
Professor Rickard is always earnest in his search for understanding. He is anxious to get feedback and share ideas. Please come to The New York Produce Show and Conference and engage on this high profile issue.
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The bright lights and big city can be a little daunting, especially when you’re in the Big Apple. But if you’re coming to Manhattan to attend The New York Produce Show and Conference for business, you can bring your spouse or partner and don’t have to worry that they will feel alone.
Show attendees can make sure their spouse or partners connect and enjoy an experience like no other by registering them for the conference’s Spouse/Companion program. While attendees are busy working, the spouses and partners will savor all of the glitz and glamour New York has to offer, from the beauty of Broadway and Fifth Avenue to the holiday lights at Rockefeller Center. Registrants also take in all of the events at the Show and Conference — such as the Opening Cocktail Reception.
The program has been a big hit in years’ past, allowing spouses and companions to meet, forge friendships and even network while safely enjoying the city. This year, the lineup planned for Wednesday is spectacular.
Registrants in the program will be treated to a day of pampering, sightseeing and shopping. It begins with exclusive use of the Presidential suite at the Hilton Hotel and features a “get-to-know-everyone” continental breakfast and refreshments available throughout the day, as well as getting an expert makeup application and a chair massage before starting your journey through New York.
From there, take a guided tour of the city with a morning shopping experience to Manhattan’s most unique retail stores, including a visit to world-renowned Bergdorf Goodman and the flagship store for Tiffany & Co. There also will be an exclusive coach that will take program registrants on a whirlwind tour of top museums, historic sites, Chinatown, Little Italy and more. The main highlight of the day: having High Tea under the soaring stained glass in The Palm Court at the famed Plaza hotel.
Participants in the spouse/companion program also are free to attend any event at the conference. This includes entry to the opening reception, keynote breakfast, the highly popular cooking demonstrations, seminars, workshops and the trade show itself. Only the Thursday bus tours require an additional fee.
For more information about this first-class experience, click here.
To register for the spouse/companion program here.