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Key Trends From The International Fresh Produce Association 2022 Global Produce Show

At the end of October, Kristian Bottini (CEO of 270B) and I had the opportunity to attend the International Fresh Produce Association 2022 Global Produce Show. Between the people we met and the sessions and keynote speeches we attended, there were three key trends for produce marketers to lean into in the coming months:

1. Food As Medicine

In the opening ceremony of the convention, IFPA CEO Cathy Burns shared in no uncertain terms the role of the produce industry today, “What we do … impact[s] the health and well-being of every human on the planet. This health ranges from medically tailored meals to precision nutrition to produce prescriptions; fresh fruits and vegetables are poised to lead meaningful changes in global consumer health.” Meanwhile, most of us – 9 out of 10 adults – are not getting our recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables. This is a sorely missed opportunity; preventative healthy eating is our proverbial fountain of youth. As Burns puts it, “It’s becoming ever clearer that the solution to many of our health challenges are on the farm, not in the pharm.”

2. Reduce Food Waste

At world-class chef and humanitarian José Andrés’s keynote, there was barely a dry eye in the house as he spoke about his philanthropic organization, World Central Kitchen. The nonprofit started in 2010 as a response to lack of resources for survivors of Hurricane Katrina and has since served tens of millions of meals with no plans to stop anytime soon. The nonprofit has most recently aided in the Ukrainian humanitarian crisis, setting up food kitchens across every checkpoint out of the country (48 locations) to feed the women and children fleeing for safety. An additional 500 locations have opened since to provide on average a staggering half a million hot meals a day.

How do they accomplish such a momentous task in countries devastated by war and natural disaster? The World Central Kitchen’s secret sauce is to work with local farmers, producers, kitchens, and staff to cook and serve all the food. This supply chain keeps food waste to a minimum and money within the local economies. Andrés called for every brand representative, farmer, and producer in the room to do their part when we have a crisis, but more importantly to fight food waste every single day. “We need to believe that we have, in our fingertips, the solutions. [We] have to include policy, technology, distribution, bringing cool ideas to create water out of nothing,” he said. “We have so many chances to upside-down rethink the planet we live in through the food we eat.” Only together can food waste be reduced, and all human beings can be fed in the process.

3. Sustainability

On the trade show floor, sustainability was a key talking point. Compostable and recyclable packaging samples, pamphlets on greener machinery, and everyone’s favorite swag item, the reusable tote bag, were passed out up and down the aisles. In various roundtable discussions, IFPA members shared sustainability best practices and goals for the upcoming year to inspire each other to think bigger. IFPA awarded companies various distinctions, including the Science and Technology Circle of Excellence Award, to foster innovation and environmental excellence.

At 270B, we are passionate about these initiatives and have the pleasure of working towards them every day with fresh produce brands Avocados From Mexico (AFM) and NatureSweet Tomatoes. A few highlights from the past six months:

  • A major tentpole of messaging for AFM is based on the healthy “good” fats in avocados and their role in an overall healthy diet.
  • We saw that nutrition was a major driver of users as we built the new NatureSweet website, so we elevated that content and added more health and wellness tips to the site.
  • The sustainability practices of Avocados From Mexico are top notch, including the Green Agenda, reforestation for monarch butterflies, and partnering with the Lazos Foundation. We work with our clients to share these practices and educate our retailers and end consumers.

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