PMA Acts to Grow Produce Consumption
By Ron Margulis
It’s the purpose of every trade association, or at least
it should be — to help companies in the industry grow their business profitably.
At the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Annual Convention earlier this week,
president, Bryan Silbermann, said the industry is in a bit of a funk and then
challenged the group of growers and shippers to be more innovative in their
efforts to build sales.
“In spite of all the social trends going our way, overall consumption
of produce shows few signs of growth. To be sure, some categories within our
sector have seen big gains, but overall we have a long way to go. Consumers
are still not eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables, and many give safety
and cost as main concerns,” he said in his opening keynote address.
the government is trying to make consumption easier via the use of tax breaks
to encourage retail outreach in low-income areas, Mr. Silbermann called on
the industry to “improve the standards of flavor for our products,
especially fruit. We also need to show consumers how to use vegetables in tasty
new ways and combinations.”
He cited companies like Del Monte Fresh, which
has been successful in getting produce snacks into vending machines. He also
said it is important to reclaim a direct connection with the shopper and understand
that the produce industry doesn’t just compete within the produce aisle
but with the other parts of the store.
“We’ve focused for so long on getting what we grow to the consumer,
we forgot the authentic power of communicating the why of this industry,” he
said. “It’s time to change … time to realize that many people
don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
Discussion Questions: What will it take for produce companies to grow their
business over the next few years? What retailers do you think are doing the
best job of growing produce consumption?