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Seizing momentum to bring positive health outcomes: focus of IFPA’s State of the Industry address

Despite the remnants of the global pandemic and emergent challenges, International Fresh Produce Association CEO Cathy Burns urged Global Produce & Floral Show guests to capitalise on the moment and the momentum around fresh produce and floral.
Tue 03/01/2023 by Nadia Venticinque
The Metaverse is expected to be worth $5 trillion in 8 years.
“Only 1 in 10 Americans consumes the recommended number of fruits and vegetables a day,” said Cathy Burns.

Burns delivered key takeaways about the situation of the fruit and vegetable sector, particularly consumer trends that arose during the pandemic as well as new challenges. “What we do is produce products that impact the health and well-being of every human on the planet. I’ve never felt more certain that time and purpose are linked to creating and leading what happens next for our industry.” She went on to add:

We have an opportunity and an obligation. As an organisation, it is our duty to champion the data, insights, and messages that create lasting change in consumption so that the world knows fresh produce truly is the secret to vitality and vibrancy. IFPA is not in this to simply change the game. We are in this to change the world. And we will. Because our time is now, right now. We cannot miss this moment.

Cathy Burns said: 

We are in this to change the world. And we will. Because our time is now, right now. We cannot miss this moment.

Here comes the metaverse

The emerging digital world is where consumers will go to socialise, play games, and most importantly – buy. In eight years, it is expected to generate $5 trillion in value. Platforms like TikTok and Instagram will remain relevant (with social media commerce there expected to grow to $1.2 trillion in three years), but there’s a looming shift from novelty to knowledge, and from entertaining diversions to engaging discussions.

Innovation in sustainability and technology

Opportunities abound through innovation in sustainability and technology to tackle big issues from the climate and energy to production and food loss/waste.

Inflation and consumer concerns

Food prices have continued to rise, and consumers are stretching every dollar, rand, real, peso, pound, yen, and euro. According to BMO Capital Markets, inflation-adjusted GDP is expected to grow by just 1.6% in 2022 and will likely contract somewhat in the first half of 2023 due to the high interest rate environment.

Quiet quitting

Talent retention remains a challenge as ‘quiet quitting’ has supplanted ‘The Great Resignation’. Burns suggested that companies should consider applying the same discipline and rigour they use when measuring consumer engagement to their employees to create a ‘passion index’.

Food as medicine

From medically tailored meals to precision nutrition to produce prescriptions, fresh fruit and vegetables are poised to lead meaningful changes in global consumer health.

Burns said:

It’s becoming ever clearer that the solutions to many of our health challenges are on the farm, not in the pharm.

She added:​​​

Only 1 in 10 Americans consumes the recommended number of fruits and vegetables a day. Meanwhile, we are spending a trillion dollars of our national debt each year treating diet-driven diseases – diseases that can be addressed by changing what’s at the end of your fork.

IFPA global research found that, across the markets of Brazil, China, Germany, the UK and the US, more than 75% of consumers overwhelmingly agree that fruit and vegetables are important, and a similar percentage feel they are eating enough. Yet, when asked how much fruit and vegetables they eat each day, the amount – 3.4 servings – falls well below the level recommended by the World Health Organization.

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