There is no question that the fresh produce industry is undergoing a period of phenomenal change. It is providing growth opportunities for packers who partner with suppliers, that consistently launch high-performance products which are aligned to their short and long-term goals.
In this blog I’ll introduce the strategies and development methodology Compac has adopted. These combined, enable us to launch revolutionary products like Spectrim, and align our development roadmap with customers’ long-term goals to ultimately achieve our mission of protecting and enhancing their brand.
Trends are driving the need for faster, higher-quality product development
As the value of fresh produce to consumers and retailers continues to increase, trends are placing greater demands on fresh produce brands, growers, and their suppliers. Being successful is therefore no longer just about growing the best produce. Staying competitive requires optimal resource utilization, and smart investment in technology and services. This in turn allows you to gain efficiencies, ensure product quality, and provide food safety and traceability.
Trends impacting fresh produce brands and growers:
- Increasing retail demands, including consistent supply and taste.
KPMG’s Agribusiness Agenda 2016 discusses megatrends for fresh produce with the enablement of technology.
- Changing consumer preferences favor things like providence and convenience of purchase.
Read Nicky Molloy’s blog on Consumers and Traceability.
- Stricter social & regulatory demands, particularly around food waste and safety.
- Increasing labor costs, regulations surrounding this, and labor shortages.
Read more on Ken Moynihan's presentation at United Fresh
As Compac operates at the point in the supply chain where each piece of produce is inspected and graded, we recognise the responsibility of our role in the packhouse supply chain and how this influences the response to trends. This means continued investment in not just flexible mechanical solutions, but also software that enables automation and electronic system development, data exchange for traceability, and now data to improve productivity and analytics. With so many areas of development, getting the most customer value for each R&D dollar spent is becoming increasingly important so you have the ability to stay flexible and responsive.
Methods to efficiently develop high-value products:
- Get close to customers
Understanding a customer is no longer just about how the packhouse operates. It includes retail, legal health and safety requirements, data for financial reporting, data to develop farming practices and retailer obligations, consumer trend information from marketers, and much more.
As our customer operations and product solutions become more complex, moving closer to our customers enables us to understand their business more effectively. This in turn allows us to find opportunities to facilitate their strategies, and develop, validate, trial and launch those products from our research and observations.
To understand our customers better, Compac has been investing in regional operating centers, and centers of excellence in key commodity regions. While these offices enable the facilitation of professional services in the areas, they also feed local market requirements to our development roadmap, facilitate concept validation meetings with customers, and enable product validations at customer sites. The result is a clearer product roadmap that is more aligned to customer pain points, which leads to shortened development times.
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- Establish development partners
Customer validation at each project stage is a key part of our development framework. It aligns our product development with customer goals, shortens development times, and guarantees the robustness of each product launched.
Supply chain consolidation and year-round supply mean that all newly developed solutions must meet the fruit handling, environmental, cleaning and sanitization challenges of a packhouse that operates every day of the year. By testing in-house and at customer sites prior to release, customers have the peace of mind that even the latest technology will be robust, reliable and user friendly.
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- Scope – The business case of the project and general deliverables
- Concept – Creation of one or more concepts that that meet the deliverables
- Implementation – Development of the chosen concept
- Validation – Validation of the product at a customer site
- Release – Validated product is released to the market
- Focus on a core set of commodities
Rather than spreading a thin net widely, Compac has chosen to invest and be the market leader in a core group of commodities. This enables us to supply specific market leading commodity solutions, and provide peace of mind that we are continuing to support, develop and improve our customers’ solutions into the future.
The commodity focus is also vital in improving the effectiveness of product development by aligning our R&D roadmap with the trends of each commodity. By focusing on a limited number of commodities we can better understand each market, customer challenges, handling characteristics, grading and inspection requirements, cleaning and sanitization protocols, and optimized packhouse layouts. This results in the thorough optimization of products for each customer commodity, in terms of performance, reliability and usability.
So what does this mean for you?
With so much change in the industry, it is essential you find and invest with leading suppliers who understand your business and commodity. Think about what your short and long-term goals are, and how a supplier will help you reach these by supplying consistently updated high-performance products.
If you would like to find out more about a sorting solution, have a product or feature idea, or would like to be a development partner, please contact me or email the product management team.