The state of the global fresh produce industry

November 2023 – At IFPA's 2023 Global Produce and Floral Show in Anaheim, California, the fresh produce industry came together to network, learn, be inspired and discuss the state of the fresh produce industry.

Globally, the industry faces many challenges today, as climate extremes, geopolitical tensions and a shrinking and more expensive workforce are impacting players along the fresh produce supply chain.

Fortunately, with the many technological innovations and exciting new products being developed, the future remains full of opportunities for the fresh produce industry.

Navigating between greater uncertainty and greater quality

Climate extremes are the talk of the town
The numerous climate extremes affecting supply and prices around the world were one of the main topics of discussion at IFPA2023 (International Fresh Produce Association's Global Produce and Floral Show 2023), held in October 2023 in California. . Some of the many fruits affected by recent climate disruptions are blueberries, table grapes and stone fruits. While fair visitors were offered a range of the best berries, blueberries were absent from many American supermarkets during the month of October. After years of growth, shipments from Peru have decreased significantly in the 2023/24 marketing year due to a warm winter that negatively affected yields. While this is one of the many results of El Niño, in the long term, the industry expects continued growth in blueberry exports.

The quality standard for berries has been raised.
As the speed of demand growth in major markets (US and EU) has slowed in recent years, quality has become more important. At the fair, several blueberry growers showed off their new, larger blueberries. Giant-sized berries are expected to quickly gain relevance in the market, not only due to consumer preferences, but also due to increased efficiency and reduced production and harvest costs. In the case of strawberries, quality was also a standout feature at the fair. The most striking thing was the different brands of greenhouse-grown strawberries on display. Unlike in Europe, greenhouse-grown strawberries are a fairly new phenomenon in the United States and are quickly gaining ground.

Automation is gaining steam
In the long term, it appears that the production and processing of leafy greens will also become more automated, despite the current challenges for high-tech grown vegetables. Like many other fruit and vegetable industries, labor costs and availability, as well as more limited water availability and/or stricter sustainability requirements are a challenge. At the same time, consumers demand ever higher quality. Automation can be a solution to some of these problems and we saw many interesting demonstrations of this at IFPA 2023. Automation solutions ranged from robotic harvesters for strawberries and tomatoes to extremely advanced fruit sorting equipment and technologies to assist pollination in avocados, blueberries and almond production. According to some industry sources, the payback period for some robotic packaging or sorting equipment is currently less than one year. Several solutions to reduce food waste were also presented, including fruit coatings to increase shelf life and a scanner in retail to determine the ripeness of avocados, preventing consumers from squeezing the fruit until it can't be sold.

Previous article

next article


The devastating frosts cause significant losses of blueberries in U...
Blue dream: Ukraine sets a historical record for blueberry export...
José Antonio Gómez-Bazán, CEO of Camposol: what is the secret of success...