Fresh produce suppliers, especially those in the Southern Hemisphere for whom their product supply chains cover a long distance, need to be prepared to manage their costs intelligently and, where necessary, invest in the right areas to enable their business to grow.
That was one of the stand-out messages from this year's Eurofruit Congress Southern Hemisphere, which took place on 17-19 October in Cape Town, South Africa.
Danie Schoeman, managing director of logistics service provider FPT Group, told around 250 delegates attending the conference and networking event that the country's export trade stood to lose a great deal if it failed to invest in its supply chain.
"A more integrated, holistic and systemic approach is required which will ultimately increase profitability," he said. "The ultimate cost of cost-cutting through a piecemeal cut, cut, cut approach could be that you cut yourself out of business."
He added: "In the Southern Hemisphere, we are inextricably connected to global supply chains. Cost containment is one of the top five supply chain challenges, but it is not the same as cost cutting."
Elsewhere, presentations and panel discussions involving some of the fresh produce industry's leading names – including Capespan Group CEO Johan Dique, Massmart / Walmart's head of fresh produce sourcing Kobus Pienaar and Nazlie du Toit, CEO of the Waitrose Foundation – learned about a number of different opportunities and challenges currently presenting themselves in international fruit markets.
A full report on the event will be published in the January issue of Eurofruit.