Insight into the fresh produce sector

Occasionally I deviate from the norm and try to give readers some insight into the wider world of fresh produce.

- Advertisement -

Oligarchs profit
Sanctions imposed by the West against Russia following the conflict in Ukraine may prove profitable for the likes of Gennady Timchenko, one of Russia’s richest men. He invested in an 800ha apple orchard farm as soon as sanctions were announced, which means even more money for him. This, according to commentators, has become a pattern in the country. Foreign investors are leaving and the extremely wealthy oligarchs are jumping into the gap. – (5 January 2015)

Consumer motivations
This is a US expert speaking, but he offers several interesting insights for us in SA:

“There’s always a health driver in the US that we’re preoccupied with and busy ignoring at the same time. Fifty percent of products have a health claim on them, it’s the biggest thing people think about. But when you look at what’s driving trends… I think stepping back, there’s a continued push for more natural foods and transparency, cleaner labels. The biggest things that are preoccupying people are ‘Is my food good for me?’ and ‘Is it tasting good?’ “People are demanding food that tastes great, and it has to be interesting. People’s palates are growing more sophisticated and with Indian and other cuisines we’re demanding new flavours.”– PMA Smartbrief (5 January 2015)

- Advertisement -

Emotive and misleading
US retailer Wegmans asserts, without evidence, that organically grown produce tastes better than conventionally grown produce. Some research has found that the term ‘organic’ carries psychological weight with consumers and products labelled as such, whether they are or not, are perceived as healthier and tastier. Yet not one double-blind, peer-reviewed study of produce bought at a supermarket has ever found that organic produce actually tastes better than conventional produce.
Perishable Pundit (18 November 2014)

Weighty issue
New laws in Nyandarua County, Kenya, state that potatoes must be packed in 50kg bags. But police officers are colluding with traders who still pack potatoes in 90kg bags. The 50kg pocket disappeared decades ago in SA. Ever tried lifting 50kg of potatoes, let alone 90kg? – (5 January 2015)