Fresh produce industry utilizes technology to meet consumer demand

Posted by Matt Stillwell on Oct 30, 2016 9:29:28 PM

Fresh produce industry utilizes technology to meet consumer demand

The fresh produce industry is often associated with digging dirt and watering trees – but these days that is far from being the whole truth - (TWEET THIS). When consumers visit their grocery stores and supermarkets, they expect nothing less than to be able to buy fresh, quality and safe produce that meets the brand promise. To ensure that happens there is a sophisticated supply chain hard at work behind the scenes.

When a consumer picks up a piece of fresh produce, they recognize that it has been grown in an orchard and shipped to its final destination. But for those of us involved in the fresh produce industry, when we look at a piece of fresh produce we think of the incredibly sophisticated technology utilized to get that piece of fruit to the kitchen table. The growing, harvesting, sorting, inspecting, grading, packing, transportation, stocking and selling of each piece of fruit are all interlinked parts of the supply chain that leverage technology to get the best results.

As I walk the halls of PMA Fresh Summit 2016 I am constantly reminded of this wonderful industry and the rapid growth within it, specifically the phenomenal amount of smart technology that is enabling our industry to deliver fresh tasting, consistent, safe and quality products. The following are a few things that Compac showcased at PMA and a few other innovations that impressed us! 

Compac changes the conversation at the PMA:

The ever-increasing global population and a growing middle class are putting a lot of pressure on the fresh produce industry. In order to meet the demands of both quantity and quality, the fresh produce supply chain is getting more and more sophisticated. 

As our customers and the supply chain get more refined, so too must our processes and technology. Packhouses are no longer just looking for a sorting solution, they are looking for more automation with better integration, data solutions and uptime, all while ensuring quality, consistency and safety throughout their operations. These were the conversations we had at PMA and they were well received! The following is a brief overview:


Integration for us demonstrates how sophisticated the fresh produce industry has become. It’s obvious that no single supplier can provide packhouses with everything they need. The future is abouDatastation PMAt best-of-breed suppliers rather than one supplier. Partnering with world leaders in certain areas of the packhouse and integrating the equipment seamlessly. You can read more on integration here.


Data cannot be ignored and will fast become the most strategic asset in your business. Data is already everywhere throughout the supply chain and there is huge value in gathering it from machines, making sense of it, and integrating it with data from other machines and systems to make smarter business decisions. For example, making real-time adjustments to packouts will increase efficiencies or combining grading data with growing records to improve the future quality and yield of the orchard. Read more here.

Supply chain consolidation

Consolidation of the supply chain is becoming more and more prevalent in the industry, both vertically (up and down the supply chain) and horizontally (similar businesses merging). With Compac recently being acquired by TOMRA, there were a lot of questions from the industry about what that means for them. You can read the full Q&A here.

360o tour a huge hitvr360 compac

Additionally, we provided a virtual reality 360o tour our booth of a New Zealand kiwifruit packhouse. People were amazed with the experience and saw a lot of opportunity for the technology to share the complete supply chain journey with an audience –  consumers, growers and produce buyers. Please contact me if you are interested in producing a virtual tour of your packhouse.

Other innovations that got us excited:

AvocadoAvomatics from Mexico and the “AvoMatic” – excellence in consumer experience

Avocados from Mexico showcased their “AvoMatic” robotic ordering system that allowed attendees to customize their avocado-centric meals with the help of a friendly, quirky digital “chef” – creating a buzz with the way technology is influencing modern kitchens and how we interact with our food.

Innovative packaging – MIGHTIES entices customers with health factsMIGHTIES

Brands often convey their unique messages through packaging that stands out from the crowd. MIGHTIES™ kiwifruit is an excellent example of this. They include nutritional information for their kiwifruit to entice consumers to choose their product over other common produce options. Many consumers who want a potassium or vitamin C boost would typically reach for a banana or orange, and this smart packaging teaches consumers that there are other healthy options.

That’s a wrap!

As long as consumers expect fresh produce to meet their quality, supply and safety standards, the industry will need to continue looking to advanced technology to give them a competitive advantage in the industry. PMA Fresh Summit 2016 was a revolutionary meeting of suppliers in the industry and an excellent way to see where we are all heading in the future. 

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Matt Stillwell

Written by Matt Stillwell

Digital Marketing Manager - TOMRA

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