There are events throughout history that cause a paradigm shift from one era to the next, where important changes to the usual ways of doing things are replaced by new and different ways.
Undoubtedly, COVID-19 will rank through the ages as one of the largest single global change elements in human history. With that in mind, what changes will affect the fresh produce industry?
If faith can be placed in the United Nations as a prognosticating organization, then I believe we have a very fruitful future ahead of us (pun intended).
The Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, stated that, “By declaring 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, we are … urging the adoption of a more holistic approach to production and consumption that benefits human and environmental health … Let us … commit to a healthier, more resilient and sustainable world where everyone can access and afford the diverse nutrition they need.”
In addition to the UN’s favorable treatment of fresh produce, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published its guidelines for American diets.
According to the newly released Dietary Guidelines for Americans, more than half of all adults in the U.S. have one or more diet-related chronic diseases! Part of the solution to this problem, according to the guidelines, is to “Make Every Bite Count” by incorporating nutrient-dense foods into our diets. It is not surprising that the top two recommended food groups are vegetables and fruits.
On top of the forces that are informing, subsidizing and advancing public favor behind fresh produce, there are strong head winds for non-produce foods that compete for their share of our bellies. A new generation of citizens believes that canned, processed, frozen, and even many meats are bad for both the environment and our bodies.
Combining this evidence and encouragement from institutions around the world with the growing perception from many people who prefer not to consume processed food or meat creates the perfect environment for fresh fruits and vegetables to be the dominant food of choice on this planet.
I believe that we are on the cusp of a meteoric rise in the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables during this decade. The place is here, and the time is now for our industry to leverage these factors to our advantage and market the hell out of our products.
Every conversation that each one of us has should go back to our why, and the just cause that our products inherently possess. To say that I am excited about 2021 and beyond is a laughable understatement. I for one feel like a man on a mission to change the world.
My hope is that there are enough other people out there that feel the same way. I invite you to e-mail me one thing that you can do to increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables this year and we will hold each other accountable.