Fresh-cut industry comes of age

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Fruitnet.com Staff

BY FRUITNET.COM STAFF

Fresh-cut industry comes of age

Consumers' needs for convenient and healthy products have driven the category's popularity

Fresh-cut industry comes of age

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It is just over 20 years since fresh-cut exploded onto the scene. In that time, it has become the fastest-growing segment of the fruit and vegetable industry, clocking up double-digit sales growth year after year and leaving other categories in the shade.

Satisfying the dual requirements for greater convenience and nutritious products amongst today’s time-stressed, health obsessed consumers, fresh-cut is riding a wave of popularity that shows no sign of breaking.

But with the category maturing and suppliers facing mounting pressures from spiralling costs and greater demands for food safety, could the “salad” days be coming to an end?

As the credit crunch takes its toll, fresh-cut suppliers, like the wider fresh produce industry, are struggling to find new ways of maximizing efficiency and reducing their costs. At the same time, consumers continue to demand a constant stream of newer, safer, more innovative product offerings.

How this impacts on the industry’s future remains to be seen. While some predict that growth will slow in the coming years, others believe the market will accelerate as demands for healthier food choices and greater convenience grow. Rising childhood obesity levels, for example, will present new opportunities in the snack market for products similar to sliced apples and carrot batons.

Technology, meanwhile, will lead the charge towards greater efficiency. Ongoing innovations in the packaging sector are expected to yield dramatic improvements in shelf-life and product quality, while machinery manufacturers are already playing a critical role in the drive to reduce costs through increased flexibility, waste reduction and more efficient use of energy.  

In terms of overall industry structure, few doubt that consolidation will gather pace as suppliers unite to service ever-bigger foodservice and retail customers. At the same time, fuel costs and a resurgence in interest in local sourcing means there will always be room in the market for smaller regional operators.

Inside this issue of Americafruit we speak to some of North America’s leading fresh-cut companies who give us their take on how the category will evolve in the coming years. Most agree that as it approaches adulthood, it has a bright future ahead. 

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