We had some interesting takeaways from this year’s PMA Fresh Summit convention. First, it was bigger than ever! The entire Moxxy team’s feet need a long soak in some hot water and Epsom salt (is that still a thing?). In addition to the record number of exhibitors, we limped away inspired by these six trends in the world of fresh produce:
Snackable packs. Packaging with more than one way to open it. Packages with innovative and convenient ways for consumers to store, stack and reseal it. Beautifully designed packages that elevate the brands and enhance the products inside. Digital printing advancements and sustainable packaging that is becoming cost competitive with single use plastics. It’s an exciting time to explore brand differentiation, cost savings, supply chain improvements and value-added convenience via packaging.
For several years, we’ve seen a lot of excitement in the produce department coming from small versions of familiar favorites (itty-bitty carrots, tiny tomatoes, petite peppers and two-bite cucumbers). But for every action there’s an opposite reaction, and we saw that last week in the form of massive seedless grapes, huge bulbs of garlic, colossal citrus, mondo avocados, and even a sweet potato the size of Travis’s head—and he has a big head.
You know a produce item is hot when it starts showing up in new and unprecedented presentations. Last week, we saw mushroom jerky, mushroom mince, mushroom snacks and even mushroom beverages. Add that to the ever-expanding variety of fresh mushrooms that growers are introducing to consumers, and it’s clear these magnificent macrofungi are taking over not only the produce aisle, but seemingly every department throughout the grocery store.
Wow, what’s that?! Every aisle seemed to contain something curious, weird and fascinating—yet delightfully delicious. In addition to a plethora of exotic fresh fruit and vegetables such as breadfruit, goldenberries, mangosteens and yuca roots, we also saw plenty of novel value-added items. From crisp jicama “tortillas” and sweet yet tart soursop nectar, to crunchy dragon fruit chips and fruit, herb and flower-flavored cane sugar crystals, the unusual options available to consumers are seemingly endless.
A Higher Purpose
Brands like Newman’s Own, TOMS and Burt’s Bees have been promoting their brand purposes for years. But for the most part this trend hasn’t caught on in produce. We were inspired to see so many more produce companies sharing how they promote their causes, charitable giving and the core values of their corporate mission beyond profitability. We think it’s a great way for produce brands to connect with customers and consumers. Some of the inspirational examples we saw ranged from Shuman Produce making life a little sweeter for families in need through the Feeding America program to Sunset’s Kumato tomatoes promoting the Movember movement to raise awareness for prostate cancer.
On-the-go and between-meal eating is a fact of modern life that produce brands are embracing. Consumers who crave healthier, plant-based options can now increase their fruit and veggie consumption with both fresh/perishable and shelf-stable options like crispy dried fruit, flavor-infused raisins, pouches of marinated veggies, and protein-packed cheese snacks made from lentils, peas, beans and chickpeas.
With these and other exciting innovations seen on the show floor, 2019 and beyond is looking promising for shippers, retailers, food service operators, and especially consumers who love produce.