4 Trends in the fresh fruit and vegetable market in 2023

Many publications are released to document and predict some of the trends in the global fresh fruit and vegetable market in every year. Usually, the trends are spotlighted and factor in ever-changing consumer preferences, global supply chain disruptions and changing trade relations. Such a document is released every year, by FRUIT LOGISTICA, under the name “What next for fresh produce? Key trends for the fruit and vegetable business in 2023,” a report to spotlight opportunities for fresh produce suppliers and brand owners. In the 2023 edition, a group of experts across the industry gave these insights and forecasts for the industry:

1. Data and IoT powered solutions for fresh produce

Agri-tech has evolved over the past decade to cover various applications and subsectors, including on-farm solutions, transportation, distribution, retail, and marketing. But this year, more than ever, the various technological advances are poised to have a substantial impact on how fruits and vegetables are grown, traded, sold, and consumed across the world. Across the value chain, there will be an increase in machine-learning software solutions, data-centred, IoT-powered solutions, and a resulting demand projection of such solutions. 

At a cooling level, fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers require monitoring around different aspects, including controlled conditions along the cold chain. During all post-harvest stages, effective pre-cooling, temperature management and dehydration control are among the most meaningful strategies to extend shelf life and retain the quality of your produce. This year, the market will demand more effective solutions to cooling, and remote monitoring is part of this. At InspiraFarms Cooling, we have designed solutions for this growing market.  

InspiraConnect is a remote monitoring system integrated with our data cloud system (InspiraCoolCloud), which comes with a user-friendly online platform that works on any mobile or desktop device, allowing the instant sharing of detailed data and reports. This allows you to:  

  • Have full transparency of conditions inside and outside the cold room to achieve the highest possible product quality and shelf-life, while reducing losses.   
  • Generate the key data required to optimise post-harvest operations, cooling performance and track energy consumption, optimising OPEX performance.  
  • Receive diagnostics and remote support for your cooling technology to increase uptime and optimise the performance of your machine. 

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2. Fresh fruit and vegetable suppliers under pressure 

As the fresh fruit and vegetable business recovers from the pandemic; other challenges have emerged. Cost of inflation, packaging, energy shortages, the war in Ukraine, and climate change have all posed serious threats to the industry’s present and future success. Overall, the industry has had a couple of years in which the pandemic created major short-term difficulties for the industry. And this year, as we emerge from the pandemic, it is faced with some other bigger challenges: the economic crisis, a decrease in consumer spending power, an energy crisis fueled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and significant, and additional across-the-board pressure to become more sustainable in the face of climate change.  

Thanks to all these factors, suppliers are questioning whether the fruit and vegetable business has what it takes to overcome all these challenges. However, in each case, the sector will have to show substantial resilience. In conclusion, for each crisis, each value chain party will have to continue to adapt, make new investments and respond to the changing market. 

a product probe used to measure the core temperature of the produce

3. Deglobalisation of the fresh produce industry 

In the past few years, the fresh produce sector, particularly in the European Union has been in the process of deglobalisation, with increased campaigns to ‘eat local’. With Farm to Fork and the impacts of COVID-19 from previous years, many markets, particularly across Africa, have got more used to consuming local produce. However, it is important to note that each economy must look at all the different opportunities in the fresh and processed market, domestic markets, the intra-EU market, and the market outside as a buffer.

In 2023, fresh produce traders will increasingly learn that they cannot depend so much on sourcing to, or from, one market. This will drive increased expansion into new markets requiring even better control of logistics and the right product for the market. For this reason, we will see more emphasis on efficient precooling, on-farm and near-farm cooling, cold chain transport, warehousing and more. It will even be more evident that growers, exporters and importers address all aspects of phytosanitary and post-harvest cooling regulations. 

4. Sustainability in the fresh produce industry

One of the big headaches for fruit and vegetable companies seems to be a need to become environmentally sustainable in the long term without sacrificing their short-term economic viability. In 2023, companies will increasingly focus on these three pillars of sustainability: the economic, the environmental, and the social. The fresh produce sector has been one of the pioneers concerning environmental sustainability. For instance, twenty years ago, Global. G.A.P. certification pushed the sector into additional sustainability requirements based on already relatively strict EU legislation. So, we are already on the way to environmental sustainability.

What is remaining is for fresh produce growers to improve on accountability, such as transparent environmental footprint process, waste disposal, and ethical operations, because it’s important to be accountable and transparent, including water and pesticide footprint, food loss, packaging, chemical use and energy. Additionally, Sustainability issues are growing in importance among consumers, and with increasing their level of knowledge with regards to how their food is produced. According to a report by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), 93% of global consumers expect the brands they use to support social and environmental issues.

For this reason, more companies in the sector will invest in demonstrating their sustainability, motivated by the benefits of investing in them, and their brand reputation.