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Food and Drink

Chris White

Chris White is Managing Director at Fruitnet Media International. Chris has worked in the fresh produce sector for almost 35 years and is a very well-known journalist, conference moderator and industry commentator.

One business success

  • The Fresh Produce Journal has been in print for more than 120 years. Even if this pandemic seems pretty small beer when set against the global crises our country faced in the first half of the last century, the pandemic is having a profound impact on the way we live and work today, and will shape our lives for years to come. It challenges us at FPJ and at Fruitnet as a whole to become even more relevant in print and to continue to embrace all the many opportunities of digitalisation. Since the start of the pandemic, we accelerated the roll-out of a new series of online apps and within one month of lockdown became the first in our sector to host a virtual conference. We’re now hard at work on a brand-new series of products to bring news and information and networking to the fresh fruit and vegetable sector right around the world.

Two challenges for the sector

  • The long tail of this pandemic continues to have an impact on the fresh fruit and vegetable market in the UK. Every part of the supply chain is affected. Businesses will have to become even more efficient. They will need to strip out every unnecessary cost and invest and innovate even more, most especially in new technology.
  • And all this at a time when food retailers make ever more use of the blunt instrument of low prices to compete for market share. It’s an enormous challenge to sustain any business at a time like this.

Three forecasts for the sector

  • New retail: enjoyment of food is one of life’s essential pleasures, but shopping for food remains a chore for so many of us.  This means food retailers need to rediscover an enthusiasm to serve us in stores that are fun to shop at, or else we’ll all go online and where is the joy in that? And, with supermarkets transfixed by the price war (see above), the time for new forms of independent retail is now.
  • Eat healthily: the pandemic has reminded us that fresh fruits and vegetables are essential for better health, so we need to convert this into consistently higher sales that are driven by great tasting and high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables that you’ll pay good money to eat because your life would be miserable without them!
  • Talk tech: since we’ve embraced technology in every other part of our lives, the sector needs to explain better why tech in every aspect of the fresh fruit and vegetable supply chain is to be welcomed because it results in better, tastier, cleaner fresh produce and, in simple terms, it’s better for us and for our planet.

January 2022