In this blogpost, we interviewed our IQF Fruit expert Frank De Brauwer. We discussed 5 burning questions in the industry:
What are the current challenges the industry is facing?
The first reaction during this time has been a high request from retailers to supply extra food. The Supermarkets are wanting to secure enough stock, as more people are eating at home more often with the restaurant restrictions still in place. From the producers' side, there lie more difficulties organizing the production. In Poland, there is a shift in farmworkers going back to Ukraine, but farmworkers across the world are also migrating home.
Today's Producers need to be very flexible and accommodating. With requests going up and down at a moment's notice, the need for a quick pivot and adjustment in the lines has become more common, and finding workers is also proving difficult.
How do they relate to the context of our world today?
Any attempt to have long term contracts with large retailers and Supermarkets requires producers to consistently deliver and organize their production around the changes in demand. It is also important to make the process more efficient in terms of yield, which is very tricky and includes many variables, as crops can vary enormously. Weather plays an integral part in determining if production will be easier, or more difficult, and is yet another factor that producers and farmers alike cannot control.
When you have a good crop, the challenge is to keep the price high, but constant changes in market forces and the fluctuations in demand make that difficult. On the other side, when the crop is of poor quality, there are more resources dedicated to improving it during production. Every year presents new challenges for the Individually Quick Frozen Fruits category, but also opportunity.
Are there any opportunities hiding beyond the challenges?
We do not have any control over the weather that determines the harvest, but having one or two high tech sorters enables producers to maintain consistently high-quality output, and effectively allocate their personnel and resources. New machines and technology allow operators to promptly adapt to the changes in demand, the quality of the crop, and the type of products coming through the line while simultaneously minimizing false rejects.
How can TOMRA help their customers unlock these opportunities?
TOMRA Foods' sorting solutions provide operational flexibility and empower our partners to deliver to the specifications and changing quantities demanded from Supermarkets. Even with a poor crop, TOMRA’s state of the art technologies implemented in a couple of sorting stages leads to higher product quality, greater yield, more efficient production, and the ability to quickly adapt to suit the needs of the market.
What potential lies ahead in the upcoming years?
Incorporating new technology today will allow producers greater flexibility with the changes brought about tomorrow. The Fruit Market is on the rise, and in the last couple of years, has seen five percent growth. We have witnessed the Superfood revolution unfold and Supermarkets have had to work hard to keep up with the changes in demand from customers. With a growing global concern around health and wellness, fruits are continuing to become more of a priority in our day-to-day diets. Consumption of fruits of China is also increasing, and their neighbors in Eastern Europe are eager to provide. With such a large market that is also very demanding in terms of quality, there is tremendous potential on the horizon if producers can meet these needs.