This month we unpack the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute’s report on future directions in global produce trade – Fruit Trade 2025. Prepared by the Fruit Logistica team it is a substantial report that describes the changing nature of consumer’s relationships with the food they eat and the distribution channels they buy from.
It makes some key observations about where we are today, where we will be in the near future and the opportunities presented by these changes. Our current food supply chains have been built around the idea of feeding lots of people with year round supply of produce, supported by global supply chains and industrial distribution models like supermarkets. But will they be fit for purpose in 2025?
A number of rather counter-intuitive trends have emerged as a result of wide adaption of consumer based information technology, social media, and our obsession with science. In a world where terms like “friends” have been taken over by social media, consumers seem to have awakened a need for more authentic experiences. They are becoming more self-aware and developing a more nuanced view of what is good health – not only physical health, but health for communities and the planet.
These trends have very significant implications for our food supply chains. Some of the observations made in the report signal an increasingly important role for digital technologies in the supply chain:
# Provenance – if consumers want to know more about their food and the impact on their wider health, then by definition they will also want to form a stronger information based relationship with the food they buy
# Transparency – they will ask their governments to inform citizens about food origins, handling, and waste. This will drive more reporting and objective assessments of what is occurring at the farm and through the supply chain
# Traceability / Quality Assurance – Consumer technology providers will come into the market to meet this demand for transparency by providing low cost devices that measure and inform consumers about the chemical composition, provenance and quality of the produce.
These changes offer many opportunities for market participants to raise margins and value from their investments in food supply chains.
One of the key observations I would make from the report is that as consumers seek to find more authenticity from their food experiences, the produce itself can be repositioned – from a food commodity to a branded food identity.
The digital supply chains that the HiveXchange and more broadly, the Food Agility CRC, are building create a framework for surrounding produce with information and tools that create a completely different experience of fresh produce for the consumer. We imagine a consumer selecting produce based on the information surrounding it and the stated and proven efficiency of the supply chain – which is short, efficient and safe.
Importantly, this will not only improve the outcome for the consumer but will foster a more agile, efficient and profitable agriculture industry in Australia. One in which our producers are paid commensurately for the skills and investments they put into growing clean, fresh, top quality produce. Meanwhile the industry overall is rewarded for integrating sustainable and equitable practices into the food value chain.