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The challenges on the horizon


Recently, I was commiserating with a longtime industry leader about the state of produce in North America.

He, like me, has been in the trenches for 40-plus years. Our careers have mirrored each other in several ways: we were in college in the late 1960s and early 1970s, worked in finance for a few years, and found our life’s work in the produce industry in the late ’70s.

We concurred that we’ve seen many changes—many good, and others not so good, and we agreed there will be several more changes coming down the pike.

Here are a few.

Innovation: more robots will be used in all facets of produce; blockchain will be used in new and innovative ways; growing products inside and out will be done with less water usage; tasty new products will be introduced that are more resistant to pests and diseases; and issues such as traceability and sustainability will be significantly enhanced.

Consolidation: there will be more consolidation, financed by large financial firms; scale in all parts of the supply chain will be evident; the number of overall players in the industry will decrease; new, niche businesses seeking to enter the industry will find it challenging; and regulation, from all governments, will increase, affecting smaller businesses more disproportionately.

International: markets will be challenged by government taxes and tariffs; the supply chain will slowly improve; because of new technology and growing methods, the playing field will see a levelling across time zones, affording more competitive markets to all players; and being able to successfully traverse the growing tensions between countries will require nimble and creative methods.

Inflation: higher costs will continue, leading to changes in eating and consumer choices; produce will become more important as a source of diet, but its affordability will take a while to work its way through the supply chain.

Because of the free market type of industry that denotes how the produce industry functions, there will, nonetheless, be many opportunities.

Those who take a long-term view of the Industry, work hard, and persist in their efforts should be handsomely rewarded—financially and in the knowledge that they are feeding a hungry world.

This is the CEO’s Perspective column from the May/June 2022 issue of Produce Blueprints Magazine. Click here to read the whole issue.


Jim Carr is the President and CEO of Blue Book Services Inc.