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1 year ago

The Partnership no. 18

Trends leafy vegetables

Trends leafy vegetables and pre-packed salads will focus increasingly around varieties with a longer shelf life – an important aspect in the breeding of these crops that Enza Zaden has been looking at for some time through post-harvest research.” Some trends that were already becoming evident, such as local-for-local, more demand for organic products and renewed interest in typical seasonal products, are growing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. “The need for convenience products will continue to exist, but something is inherently changing,” Verwegen continues. “Instead of ready meals, the consumer is now looking for more pre-prepared semi-finished products that still require some cooking at home. People have more time for that now.” It is not yet clear what the consequences will be for demand for packaged or non-packaged products. Although packaging extends the shelf life of products and gives a stronger sense of safety than fruit sold loose in the supermarket, non-packaged products have a cleaner, more sustainable image. Sales channels Supermarkets – both physical and online – have the wind in their sails. Other sales channels, such as hospitality, have been hard hit by lockdowns and customer hesitancy the world over. The growth experienced by supermarkets has, of course, been strongest in countries in which eating out of home is common, such as the US. According to IRI, year-on-year sales of vegetables in the US grew by more than 20% from April to June this year and were still up by 15% from July onwards. The figure in fruit was around 10%, although fruit is eaten out of home less often. The same also applies to organic products. “Work canteens, catering companies and their immediate suppliers such as the fresh-cut industry are also having a tough time,” says Verwegen. “And therefore, so are the vegetable producers that sell via these channels. A substantial number of products are mainly sold via the out-of-home channel, varying from exclusive micro vegetables to plain and simple loose, round tomatoes. Producers may well be wondering whether it is wise to limit themselves to one single product segment or one type of client. Differentiation could be a sensible solution.” Another way of spreading the risk is to work with other producers in cooperatives or growers’ associations. Specialists working together can then continue to provide specific market segments and customers with a bespoke service and take steps together when circumstances cause a segment to drop out for a short or long period of time. Supply chain A link has thus been forged to the supply chain for our production column. How has the coronavirus impacted on this? The market analyst: “What the coronavirus has made clear is that long, cross-border supply chains are particularly vulnerable. Where do you get products from if flights are grounded and sea or road transport suddenly takes a lot longer because of restrictions What are you seeing? The precise consequences for individual regions and countries will of course differ, but in general terms new trends are already appearing on a global scale. Below, some colleagues answer the question as to what developments they are seeing in the areas in which they work. Young Han, Area Manager Korea & Japan - “COVID-19 made some changes in our society and in fresh market trends. The most important change is the boost in online shopping, because people are avoiding crowded areas. The fresh vegetable market appears to be in good shape and the demand for leafy products is even growing. People are looking for more healthy food. The main issue in production areas is labour shortage. Korea and Japan depend on a South Asian work force and travel restrictions because of the Covid-19 situation prove to be a real bottle neck.” and additional formalities? How do you ensure you have enough people at harvest time if freedom of movement is restricted or more people are off sick? Or when migrant workers can no longer cross borders? It is crystal clear that mechanisation and robotisation can provide a substantial boost in this area.” We take a closer look at this in the Technology article in this magazine. In addition, more attention will have to be paid to ways of shortening supply chains. This benefits the local-for-local trend. And it will also play a role in the further development and growth of PFALs (plant factories with artificial light) in and around large population centres. Heverton Teixeira, Commercial Manager, Brazil - “Covid-19 is a promotor of changes in the vegetable and fruit chain. An example are the groceries Hortifruti Natural da Terra and Oba Hortifruti, which responded to the consumer’s change in shopping behaviour by instantly launching online ordering applications and expanded services. We also notice a growing and much broader demand for healthy fresh fruits and vegetables that were formerly out of reach for the poorer part of our population. Prudencio Olivares, Regional Sales Director, Spain - “When disruptions occur, opportunities appear. We just have to anticipate, identify and grab them, like good breeders have been doing for decades. I am optimistic because of the growing demand for fresh, healthy vegetables. Especially amongst the younger generations. They are also open minded towards innovations like non-traditional products and web shops. “We need to get used to a new reality.” Hans Verwegen 14 | The Partnership The Partnership | 15

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