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Evolution To Revolution:
Seizing Opportunity Amidst Disruptive Forces In The New Convenience Economy: Veteran Industry Leader, Jeff Jackson, To Keynote Global Trade Symposium At The New York Produce Show And Conference

Each year at The Global Trade Symposium, we take pride in having a thought-provoking Keynote Speaker:

In 2011:

What we know about the prerequisites for prosperity and how liberty and property rights lay the foundation for mobility, commerce and success.
Presenter: Mary Anastasia O’Grady/The Wall Street Journal

In 2012:


How an ability to adapt to rapid change will define the winners in the 21st Century.
Presenter: Professor Thomas Reardon, PhD/ Michigan State University

In 2013:

How do supply and demand intersect: Factors influencing consumer demand and global strategies to increase produce consumption.
Presenter: Roberta Cook, PhD/University of California, Davis

This year we bring from Down Under an American dynamo. A graduate of both the business and law schools at UC Berkeley… after practicing law, he ran marketing, sales and business development for Fresh Express. He was President and CEO of The Castellini Company – Club Chef, had numerous positions with Chiquita, including President of Chiquita-Japan and Managing Director of Chiquita’s Asian, Middle East and South Pacific businesses.

For the last seven years he was CEO of the Moraitis Group in Australia.  He has broad experience, an incisive mind and a clear message to stand as the keynote speaker for the Global Trade Symposium: There is disruption in the fresh food industry; it involves many factors, and there are many responses required by businesses that hope to remain competitive or gain an advantage. We asked Pundit UK Editor Gill McShane to get the low-down:

Jeff Jackson
formerly CEO & Managing Director
M Group
Sydney, Australia

Q: You’re speaking about the global food industry at the upcoming Global Trade Symposium during this year’s New York Produce Show and Conference. Can you give us a sneak preview of what your presentation will entail?

A: I’ll cover the evolution to revolution in the fresh food industry in terms of how we arrived at the landscape today, as well as the current mega trends, the driving forces and how the future is shaping up. In particular, I will be looking at disruption in the fresh food industry space, the new consumer, chilled ready meals, food security, new investment themes and the China century. How businesses in the food industry strategically respond to these developments is critical for future success. 

Q: What do you believe are the current mega trends in the food industry, and what’s driving these tendencies?

A: The current mega trends, as I see them, are the discount retailers, the values of the new consumer, retail formats, fresh chilled ready meals, eCommerce, global food security and feeding Asia. The Millennials, health, technology and global awareness are the key driving forces.

Q: You mention disruption in the fresh food industry – could you elaborate on this development and the implications or, indeed, opportunities it poses?

A: It’s disruption in the sense that new markets, products, services and innovations are emerging that will overtake the traditional market networks. In broad strokes they are: (1) eCommerce in terms of mobile apps enabled online shopping, (2) home delivery, and (3) fresh ready-chilled meals. The opportunities and risks are numerous for retailers, prepared food companies, wholesalers and producers etc.

Q: Consumer demands are constantly evolving. So, what does the ‘new consumer’ want and need today?

A: This is actually a complicated question, but if we focus on the ‘new consumer’, which is often referred to as the Millennials, their demands are arising out of their new caring relationship with food. We’re going from fast food to ‘slow food’. In summary, the new consumers want to know the provenance of their food – that their food is healthy, fresh, sustainable, organic and ethical. They want it to be authentic, but they want food that is exciting, ethnic and diverse, and which offers a shared experience. The desire to create is up, but the time to create is down, so they also want convenience.

Q: What does this mean for fresh fruit and vegetable players?

A: The fruit and vegetable world is responding with the increased production of organics, local, non-GMO, Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance-type certifications, as well as more snackable products and superfoods, plus improved food safety and traceability. 

Q: One of the biggest consumer requirements in this increasingly busy age is for convenience. How significant do you think chilled ready meals are in terms of providing the solution?

A: Chilled ready meals are the ultimate in convenience. While there is some consumer participation, convenient chilled ready meals offers a ‘chef inspired’, healthy and ethnically diverse eating experience at a fraction of the cost of in-restaurant dining. The chilled ready-meals space also includes such things as salads, side dishes, sauces, juices, dips, snack packs, fresh-cut fruit, kits, soups and antipastos etc.

Q: Can you explain what are the new investment themes you mentioned?

A: The new investment themes are being driven by the ‘disruptive forces’. Food security has made agricultural land and production investment unbelievably attractive over the past five years. Significant investment money is also aggressively chasing food technology and home delivery companies.

Q: The continued rise in the global population is placing huge pressure on the demand for food, particularly in Asia. What challenges does that pose for the future of food supply and food security?

A: It is global population growth compounded by changing Asian consumer preferences, increased disposable income, the rapid growth of Asian supermarkets and Asian agriculture production problems. Asia already represents well over 25% of global meat, poultry and fresh fruit and vegetable consumption and has the potential to reach 50% in the near term as GDP, urbanization and economic free trade areas increase.

As global demand shifts toward Asia, there will be increased supply pressure and rising prices on global supplies for Europe and North America. Retail purchasing practices will need to change and the distribution network may once again favor wholesalers/aggregators as ‘disruptive’ forces create new pathways to the consumers.

Q: You’ve said that the food industry’s response to this evolution is critical for future success. So, how can and should fruit and vegetable businesses react to these new market realities? What’s the key to survival?

A: It’s a bit different for every segment of the fruit and vegetable industry. But the fundamentals should remain the same: scale, quality, innovation, 52 weeks a year, flawless execution, adding value wherever possible and positioning your business with strategic partnerships and market-tested products in as many pipelines as possible to reach the consumer.

Q: Have you witnessed any successful responses already? Or, do you see any in the pipeline?

A: There are quite a few companies reinventing themselves with great success. Themes that they are pursuing include: convenience, fresh ready-chilled, commissary and direct store delivery (DSD) relationships with retailers, in addition to innovation around varieties and technologies as well as home delivery.

Q: Given all of the changes you’ve highlighted, how do you see the future of the fresh produce industry shaping up?

A: That’s a good question, but one that’s difficult to answer considering the vast differences in each market and in each category. However, from my ‘one man’ think tank, I see the following general possibilities:

1. More local and protected environment production.

2. The return of wholesaler/aggregator importance to service ever increasing pathways to consumer.

3. Ever increasing importance on production and provenance in terms of non-GMO, food safety, ethical farming, sustainability, eco, organic and biodiversity.

4. More snackable produce solutions from the products themselves (berries, grapes, snacking tomato, easy peelers) to prepared and pre-cut produce.

5. More ethnic foods and superfoods such as kale, greens, seeds, grains etc.

6. More fresh chilled ready meal products and less commodity-loose products, even in pillow packs.

7. Potential global acquisition roll-ups like the food, meat and grain industries of yore.

8. More retail supermarket strategic partnerships with producers, and not only for supply but also for services, including DSD.

Q: And, finally, what key messages do you hope to drive home among the audience at the Global Trade Symposium?

A: The fact that what consumers want and how they spend has changed dramatically: That there is a convergence of fresh food meal providers occurring (restaurants, prepared foods companies and retailers). At the same time, the internet, mobile apps and home delivery are also fueling a convenience economy that is democratizing the distribution of fresh food. Meanwhile, feeding Asia and environmental factors will put ever increasing pressure on supply. The question is how will large food companies worldwide respond?


Sometimes people tell us that they don’t have time to come to events, but making time to engage with presentaters such as this is simply crucial. Because understanding and acting on the realities that Jeff Jackson is speaking about is the key to being successful a few years out.

The pro-active presentation will set a tone — just as a keynote should — for all our deliberations at the Global Trade Symposium.

Come join us.

If you already registered for The New York Produce Show and Conference, then let us know you want to add the Global Trade Symposium right here.

Register for The Global Trade Symposium and the rest of The New York Produce Show and Conference here.

Don’t forget, we have great Industry Tours and the “Ideation Fresh” Foodservice Forum, and you can find out about them here.

Jeff is bringing his wife, and Mrs. Pundit will be there, so sign up your spouse or companion for the Spouse/Companion program, including high tea at the Plaza Hotel — ask right here.

And we can still help with hotel rooms, if you tell us what you need here.

We have two booths left on the show floor. You can put your name on one right here.

And there are great sponsorship opportunities available to showcase your organization. Let us know of your interest right here.

The Global Trade Symposium and the broader New York Produce Show and Conference are about commerce, but more than commerce, they are about great minds exchanging industry intelligence; they are about building and strengthening the relationships that will ultimately lead to business success.

Come and join us in New York. Start learning how to do business better and how to be more successful in the years to come. Be a part of The Global Trade Symposium and the broader New York Produce Show and Conference.

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