Re:Fresh(ing) Perspectives from the UK Produce Industry

Yesterday I was fortunate to attend the Re:Fresh Conference in London, England.  Re:Fresh is all about produce but this conference was more about marketing rather than growing produce and had speakers representing distributors, supermarkets and food service providers. The title for the conference was “Innovation – It’s Your Future” and the keynote speaker was a minister from the Chinese government who spoke about global trade opportunities for produce.

Re:Fresh 2012 – A Representative from a Supermarket Chain Shares a Video About Quality

Beyond innovation, however, the theme was QUALITY.  Everyone is focused on ensuring that customers – whether they’re at a grocery store or a restaurant – get the very highest quality and freshest fruits and veggies.  What was left unsaid, however, is how to accomplish that.  While there’s also a lot of focus on the “grown in the UK brand” I was told that 10% of veggies and 50% of fruits are still imported into the UK. I spoke with an executive from a major UK supermarket chain and asked him about the role fruit and veggie quality played in their brand.  His response: it’s critical.  I asked how they monitor and ensure that they can deliver this high-level of quality.  His response was interesting.  He said that they look at the product and, if it looks bad, they toss it.  He then added that they know the weakest link is their cold chain.

We know that visual inspection alone won’t ensure delivering fresh, high-quality produce as you can’t tell the remaining shelf life or freshness from looking at a product but, with temperature monitoring from the field to the fork, you can help ensure the quality and delivered freshness of fruits, salads and veggies.  Sounds like innovation – with on-demand temperature monitoring – should be a key theme to helping ensure delivered quality.

Kevin Payne

Senior Director of Marketing

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