Dragons’ Den star Shawn Harris knows the value of innovation to the fresh fruit and veg business. Having founded specialist produce supplier Nature’s Pride and turned it into the world’s largest importer of avocados, she recently left the company set up Orange Wings, a startup accelerator for promising new businesses.
For Harris, there is still plenty of room in the fresh produce arena for improvement through innovation. “Everyone in the supply chain needs to step up and innovate,” she tells Fruitbox, Fruitnet’s podcast interview show (see below). “I’m talking about blockchain, artificial intelligence, continued improvement. There are so many small innovations we can do together that would save the environmental impact on the world, which we all need to work on.”
For those who don’t invest in innovation? “I think some of us in the produce business are afraid to take the margin needed to create a business for the future,” she continues. “These should probably get out of the produce business, sorry to say that. It hurts the rest of the companies by creating unfair competition. This definitely stifles innovation.”
Orange Wings is now supporting startup companies around the world, including agricultural compliance platform AgriPlace and a vertical farming model for local fresh produce supply called 80 Acres Farms.
As for fresh produce companies, however, Harris firmly says greater rationalisation and consolidation would put suppliers in a much better and stronger position to deliver more innovative products and services. “I believe in less small importers and more large distributors. I think some of us should merge together so that we have more to offer our customer base.”
Hosted by Chris White in London, Fruitbox was launched in March 2020. Already, a few thousand listeners from across the global fruit and vegetable business are tuning in twice a week to hear its exclusive interviews and expert analysis.
Produced by Fruitnet Media International, the show is essential listening for everyone in the fresh produce industry.
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