Current trends in markets around the world give a clue to the future direction of consumer demand in the fresh produce industry.
I would like to talk specifically about the issues that Field Fresh Tasmania (FFT) feel are important with particular reference to onions and supplying the northern hemisphere off season market.
I have a specific interest in Japan and my comments are likely to reflect this.
Agricultural products are often treated as commodities with growers unable to affect the price that they receive.
In a broad sense onion growers will always be subject to the forces of supply and demand.
The challenge in the 21st century will be for producers and exporters to identify niches and provide a differentiated product.
I see the key issues in the 21 century being largely defined by the marketing channels we choose.
These are likely to be large supermarkets in major industrialised countries of Europe and Asia, and Japan.
The issues that will determine the product that we supply will increasingly be influenced by consumers in these countries.
In Europe, Japan, Australia and the USA there is a growing concern relating to the health issues associated with food quality and safety.
The need to identify the origin and status of fresh vegetables will force producers to be more accountable.
Quality expectations will not be diminished and the ability to deliver on time meeting rigid specifications will be basic requirements.
Even then consumers will not be satisfied and will demand environmentally benign production systems which are sustainable and/or organic.
Once these things are achieved it will be the job of the marketer to communicate this message to the final consumer.
There will be an even greater need for information gathering and dissemination.
The internet will become the standard medium for all business transactions and for feedback, relating to quality as the world’s consumers try to get closer to the actual producer.