Do you want to increase your chances of success in the fruit and vegetable industry? Excellent! Being proactive and aware of upcoming trends is essential in reaching your goals. To put it simply, you need to know what is going on in the market. The Fruit Logistica trade fair brings all important actors in the international fresh produce sector together. But that’s not all! It is also a great place to get insight into the latest trends, innovations, products and services. International trade consultant Esmée has attended seminars, checked out trend reports and spoke with international buyers and suppliers – here, she shares the most promising results with you. Read on and find out!
Sustainability: single most important trend
Sustainability is a pressing issue. There is an urgent need to protect our environment. Also in the food supply chain, we see a lot of food waste, a waste of resources and non-durable packaging. Governmental organisations seek to contribute by developing sustainability goals and due diligence legislations. These worries also reach consumers. They become increasingly aware of how their buying habits influence social and environmental issues. All stakeholders seek to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability practices.
According to Fruit Logistica’s trend report, sustainability is the single-most-important trend in the fresh produce business and by far the most influential one in 2022: ‘’Sustainability will be non-negotiable.’’ It is a major concern, and hence companies must integrate social, environmental and economic concerns into their day-to-day business practices. What did we come across during Fruit Logistica?
1. Governments: introducing new regulations
Poor working conditions and human rights violations are not acceptable. We see governments work on new supply chain legislations to hold companies accountable when it comes to human rights and the environment. At Fruit Logistica, a special seminar was dedicated to upcoming supply chain legislations.
German human rights and environmental legislation
On 1 January 2023, the German Supply Chain Act (Lieferkettengesetz) will come into effect. With this law, the government of Germany wants the companies (> 3,000 employees) in the country – including foreign companies with a branch in Germany – to conduct due diligence on their supply chains in the area of international human rights and environmental protection. From 2024, it will even go further – then, it’s also applied to companies with more than 1,000 employees.
Oxfam Germany explains German companies will be obliged to analyse human right related risks and should take measures to prevent and mitigate violations. Also, they must set up a grievance mechanism and report on their activities. It is applicable to their own business but also to their direct suppliers. Indirect suppliers will only be involved when a company receives substantiated reports of human rights violations.
Upcoming European corporate sustainability legislation
In addition to the German legislation, we also see a similar development on a European level. On the 23rd of February, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Directive on corporate sustainability due diligence. When this legalisation becomes in full effect, companies will be obliged to address negative human rights and environmental impacts. First, it will be presented to the European Parliament and Council for approval and after approval, member states have two years to implement it into national laws.
Although these legislations apply to German/European companies, it has consequences for non-European companies as well. Therefore, it is essential to develop a strategic approach to be able to respond timely. As an international supplier, you should get familiar with the legislations – ensure you know what you can expect from German/European buyers in the near future. Be proactive, prepare your paperwork and show buyers you are compliant with human rights and environmental requirements.
Pro TIP: Read all about the European proposal in the Directive on corporate sustainability due diligence. To get more insight into the German law, visit the Bundesministerium and download the Supply chain law FAQs.
2. Retailers: human rights in the supply chain
Supermarkets focus increasingly on their sustainability practices. For example, Tesco has entered a partnership with the global union federation IUF. With this partnership, they aim to improve the access to grievance mechanisms for women workers and increase women’s representations in the workplace. Other large supermarkets have started to publish human rights impact assessments, published their first-tier suppliers, and/or included gender policies and strategies.
Human rights policies and practices are not advanced
Although supermarkets make progress, according to Oxfam, there is still a long way to go. They analysed the policies and practices of European’s leading supermarkets on human rights in the supply chain on the topics of transparency and accountability, workers, small-scale farmers and women. Oxfam mentions voluntary measures are not yet sufficient; legislation is needed to make further advancements.
A leading Peruvian agribusiness supplier states that due to their strong sustainability focus – which encompasses economic, social and environmental commitment – and having all the relevant certifications in place – like Global GAP, GRASP, SMETA, Fairtrade – they acquired to supply to all large European retailers. Hence, this proves having a CSR focus and embedding it throughout your organisation will increase your chances of success in the European market.
Pro TIP: Familiarise yourself with the sustainability standards through ITC’s Standards Map. It covers information on over 300 standards on topics such as environmental protection, worker and labour rights, economic development, quality and food safety and business ethics. Also, don’t forget to check out Oxfam’s supermarket scorecard 2022 to discover how leading European supermarkets are performing on sustainability practices.
3. Consumers: climate over consumer’s health
Although consumer health is highly valued, several sources state climate and planet health will rise on the agenda to become a more prominent attention area than people’s health. Consumers want to make informed decisions about the products they buy. This concerns not only traceability, but it goes one step further: a demand for transparency. We want to know:
- What is being produced.
- How it is produced.
- By whom it is produced.
- When it is produced.
- Where it is produced.
- And if workers are treated well.
Producers of healthy, plant-based foods are now not only being examined on the nutritional value of their goods, but also on how well they protect the natural environment, the so-called green credentials. This especially holds for younger generations. The Fruit Logistica trend report indicates that ‘’almost half of Generation Z is happy to spend more on retailers that commit to climate sustainability.’’
In this regard, as a supplier, being transparent and having good storytelling is key. What do you do to take care of the planet and its people? To boot, there will be a higher demand from retailers for climate-friendly products they can promote accordingly.
Fresh produce trends to closely follow
Although sustainability is an essential topic to cover, the Fruit Logistica showed us more important trends. We know the pandemic had a great impact on modern society; it changed our habits and rituals – basically our way of living to some extent. This also applies to our shopping behaviour and nutrition. The crisis continues to have its effect on the fresh produce sector. Post-COVID, we identify the following trends:
1. Home cooking: a trend here to stay
Continuing to gain importance among consumers is the home cooking trend. As a result, we see more and more fresh meal boxes in supermarkets. This also means more diversity of vegetables used in these boxes. We expect fresh meal boxes to grow significantly in the long term. Moreover, some retailers try out indoor farming or add shelves where you can cut your own herbs.
Then there are the consumers who love to cook but do not have the time or simply do not feel like going to the supermarket. Instead, they opt for more convenience and order meal kits with all fresh ingredients already included, such as Hellofresh. A major trend, which will prove to reinvent itself time after time. Think of exploring different cuisines, vegan options, add-on products and customisations – endless opportunities to cater to the consumer’s needs.
2. Organic produce continues to grow
The pandemic has brought record sales to the organic industry. According to the Bund Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft (BÖLW), the market for organic labelled products grew twice as fast as the food market as a whole. Retailers also tap into this trend. For example, LIDL entered into a global, food partnership with Bioland to put more high quality, organic products on their shelves. The Fruit Logistica trend report indicates European organic fruit and vegetable sector is forecasted to be worth €15 billion by 2026 – by 2030, organic production will even reach 20% of the overall production.
3. Localism on the rise
German wholesaler REWE sees a rise in demand for local for local – consumers prefer to support their locals. COVID boosted the preference for local products, but it’s also driven by economic and environmental concerns. Swedish grocery retailer ICA Sverige states ‘’local and Swedish produces are strongest when it comes to consumers’ beliefs in what they will do differently in the future.’’ Hence, in the future, we can expect an increase in demand for local and regional supplies, rather than importing from further away – at least for certain types of fruits and vegetables.
4. Fresh and healthy food – a priority
The pandemic has created even more health awareness among consumers. Hence, fresh and nutritious food became a priority for many consumers. As such, we see more people lean towards eating more vegan/vegetarian meals. Also, since the start of the pandemic people are in particular more concerned about their mental health. We see a shift toward a proactive, holistic approach to health, which can be related to functional foods. Opportunities are be found in the superfood concept. If possible, you should market your product by making a connection between your product and the specific advantages it has for people’s mental health.
This is just a glance at our interesting findings from the Fruit Logistica trade fair. Would you like to find out more about the opportunities in the fresh produce sector? Check out Fruit Logistica’s trend report: Fresh Future – Ten trends to follow in 2022.
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