Glimpse the Future at the Global Show: IFPA State of the Industry

Glimpse the Future at the Global Show: IFPA State of the Industry

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Glimpse the Future at the Global Show: IFPA State of the Industry

Press Release

The Global Produce & Floral Show is a force for discovery. Nowhere is that more evident than in the annual State of the Industry (SOI) presentation from Cathy Burns, CEO of the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA). Prior SOIs have laid out cutting-edge themes that are coming to fruition today.    

 This highly anticipated address will be Thursday, Oct. 19 at 8:20 AM. It previews the worlds of technology and innovation, sustainability and advocacy, talent attraction and workforce development, consumer trends, and tomorrow’s priorities. As outgoing IFPA chair, Laura Himes of Walmart will offer her thoughts on the past year before introducing Burns and the SOI. Only global show attendees with an all-access pass can attend this general session.  

“This is a high point of the IFPA year,” Burns says of the SOI presentation. “We gather input from diverse sources to understand what will influence – even shock – the produce and floral industries so our members can prepare to take advantage of or protect against those forces.”  

A hallmark of the global show, prior SOI predictions have become today’s reality. Burns called attention to just three, noting potential implications for members:  

  • Sustainability: In 2018, the SOI noted consumers were focused on packaging, waste, and energy, while growers and suppliers were talking about water and soil health, an apparent disconnect. Fast forward to 2022 when IFPA research indicated consumers’ top sustainability issues were water conservation, energy efficiency, recyclable packaging, zero waste, and healthy soils – a much stronger alignment. Burns said businesses should consider what consumers are thinking about this year, and how that would affect their sustainability storytelling.   
  • Ag Tech: In 2019, SOI called attention to ag tech innovation, including regenerative ag. In 2022, IFPA launched its Fresh Fields Catalyst technology accelerator, designed to bring the best tech in the world to our industry. The Fresh Field Catalyst remains on exhibit this year at the tech-focused Innovation Hub at the expo, featuring solution providers for robotics, sustainability, precision technologies, data intelligence, and management (including software and info systems), food safety, labeling and packaging, transportation, traceability, and more. Burns noted that companies must look for solutions that will make their business more efficient and more profitable.   
  • The workforce: In 2019, global show attendees learned nine of 10 employees were willing to earn less money if they could do more meaningful work. In a post-pandemic 2022, Burns noted that employers must create moments that matter – connecting to the company’s mission, vision, and its people. She noted in 2019 that 70% of employees said a strong sustainability plan would affect their decision to stay with an employer. In 2022, she explained 72% of college seniors strongly expect (or require!) employers to be committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in their hiring practices. These themes continue to resonate, she said, and members who want to be or remain an employer of choice must incorporate them.     

“When I look at last year’s themes,” she said, “I think about where we are only a year later.”  

  • Sustainability – from regenerative ag to carbon to climate – continues to generate attention from consumers, industry, and regulators. “Expect to see new resources for members on these topics in Anaheim.”   
  • Food as medicine – food pharmacy (moving from “pharm” to farm) -- especially produce prescriptions, precision nutrition, and healthy food bundling. “We had just come off the White House nutrition conference, where several of IFPA’s policy recommendations were incorporated in the Biden Administration’s strategies. Today the media is full of stories about produce prescriptions, personalized nutrition for consumers, and more.”    
  • Food and emotional connections – the deeply personal, the joy of fresh, the powerful connective tissue in community. "Our members hold the joy of fresh in their hands, and I am inspired by how they spread that joy through their products, services, and stories. From the deliciousness of fresh produce to the sensory delights of floral, they are maximizing the consumer experience.”  

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