Thursday, August 28, 2014 by Lee Mannering

Study: Growth expected in “good for you” snack category

According to a new study by The NPD Group, U.S. consumers are eating traditional snack foods, particularly snacks with a perceived health benefit, in between and at meals, and this behavior will drive the growth of snack foods eaten at main meals over next five years. Snack foods eaten at main meals will grow approximately 5 percent over the next five years or to 86.4 billion eatings in 2018.

NPD notes that the strongest growth of snack foods eaten at meals will be in the better-for-you categories, like refrigerated yogurt, bars, and fresh fruit, which consumers perceive as more healthful and convenient and are more prone to eating between and at meals. Ready-to-eat sweetened snack foods and desserts, which consumers are less likely to eat at main meals, will be flat in the next five years.

Millennials, ages 24-37, Generation X, ages 38-48, and Generation Z, ages 0-23, are driving much of the growth in better-for-you snack food consumption between and at meals. NPD stated these groups’ positive attitudes about snacking, desire to eat more healthfully, and need for convenience are among the reasons for the growth in this category.

If you want to learn more about the Millennial consumer, visit the PMA website to access Outlook on the Millennial Consumer 2014, a report on Millennials’ lifestyle, values, and perspectives on health and wellness, food and beverages, foodservice, shopping, and technology/communication. In addition to the report, you can also access a recorded Webinar that featured key findings from our Millennial report.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 by Lee Mannering

Fresh Summit sessions to explore food safety, tech, big data

If you missed the food safety workshop held during last month’s PMA Foodservice Conference & Expo in Monterey, California, you can get caught up on the content presented during this session by visiting the PMA website, which includes video segments of PMA Chief Science & Technology Officer Dr. Bob Whitaker discussing the Food Safety Modernization Act implementation timeline, the implications of big data, and more.

Building on the momentum of the Monterey workshop, PMA is offering a series of food safety-focused sessions during our Fresh Summit 2014 Convention & Expo, October 17-19 in Anaheim, California. Here’s a quick look at what’s available for the science and technology community:

  • Changing the Future of Produce Safety. This session, featuring PMA Vice President of Food Safety and Technology Dr. Jim Gorny will highlight recent research findings conducted at the Center for Produce Safety and their business implications. In addition, a panel of produce business experts will address questions from the audience on critical topics in produce food safety, and share with you the newest technical information to help you make informed, actionable business decisions for your company.
  • Putting Predictive Modeling to Work for You. Predictive Modeling/predictive analytics is the type of data mining that forecasts probabilities and trends, and this session will give you clarity about how to use your data by examining companies that have created models that drive increased sales, quality and efficiency.
  • Embracing Disruptive Technology. In this session, Dr. Bob Whitaker and a panel of experts will provide insight into the disruptive technologies that are emerging and provide insights into how these technologies will affect the produce industry and how you can leverage them to transform your business into one that is poised to meet the future demand for food.

To learn more about Fresh Summit 2014, including how to register, visit the PMA website. Please note that early registration rates will apply until September 12.

Thursday, August 21, 2014 by Lee Mannering

PMA comments on Global Food Traceability Center work

As many Field to Fork readers know, PMA has been working on traceability issues in the fresh produce industry for some time – with our leadership in the Produce Traceability Initiative (sponsored by the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, GS1 US, United Fresh Produce Association, and PMA) being a foundational piece of those efforts.

Last fall, the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), supported by several founding sponsors and industry associations including the Food Marketing Institute, GS1 US, Seafood Industry Research Fund for the National Fisheries Institute (NFI), and PMA launched the Global Food Traceability Center (GFTC) to “serve as an unbiased, knowledgeable, science-based advisor that advances insight and understanding about food traceability, and focus on addressing the very real issues and challenges of implementing improvements in food traceability while increasing transparency about food.”

In June, PMA Vice President of Supply Chain Efficiencies Ed Treacy (who serves on the GFTC board) participated in a roundtable discussion with executives from the four other GFTC sponsoring organizations and those comments were recently published on the IFT website. In it, they offer perspectives on these three questions about the GFTC:

  • What does the launch of the GFTC mean for the future of food traceability?
  • How much of a role does collaboration with the other founding organizations play in the success of the GFTC?
  • What progress do you hope to see two or three years down the road?

If you’re interested in food traceability issues, you may want to give this piece a read as each participant offers some great insights about why their organization is involved and what they’ve experienced thus far in bringing the GFTC to life.

To learn more about our work on traceability, visit the PMA website.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 by Lee Mannering

USDA launches pilot project for unprocessed produce, conference call on August 21

Last week I learned that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) have launched a pilot project which will provide participating U.S. states the ability to utilize USDA Foods entitlement dollars in their competitive procurement of unprocessed fruit and vegetable products.

As part of this pilot project, AMS will establish and maintain a list of eligible vendors from which participating states and schools may procure unprocessed fruit and vegetables (to include fresh-cut products). To be included on the list, interested vendors must submit an application to AMS providing evidence that specific requirements have been met.

If you’d like more information on this pilot project (specifically how to participate as an eligible vendor), visit the AMS Commodity Purchasing website and click on the link for the “Pilot Project for the Procurement of Unprocessed Fruit and Vegetables.”

In addition, AMS is hosting a conference call at 1 p.m. Eastern this Thursday, August 21, to discuss the pilot project with interested vendors and provide additional information about the vendor eligibility requirements. No advance registration is required; however, there are a limited number of participants who can join the call.

The call-in number is +1 (888) 844-9904 and the passcode is 1693356. If you have questions, please contact Nate Sudbeck at +1 (202) 720-3052.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 by Lee Mannering

Fresh Summit session to explore transparency in fresh produce marketing

A few months ago, I shared with you some findings from a Sullivan Higdon & Sink report which revealed that only 34 percent of Americans feel the agriculture industry is transparent and only 30 percent feel food companies are transparent about food production practices.

In this study, participants we asked to rate which methods would make a food producer more trustworthy. Fifty-six percent said better labeling of key production and nutritional information. This was followed by 50 percent indicating public tours of farms/food production facilities.

In addition, 53 percent of consumers feel that farmers and ranchers are trustworthy sources of food production information because they have a unique perspective and the credibility to impart information.

During our Fresh Summit 2014 Convention & Expo, October 17-19 in Anaheim, California, we’re taking a look at this issue in a session titled “Product Transparency Meets Fresh Produce.” In it, we’ll be highlighting the importance of full disclosure, and the need for farmers to find a truthful and transparent story to tell in how their products are grown and handled throughout production.

To learn more about Fresh Summit 2014, including how to register, visit the PMA website. Please note that early registration rates will apply until September 12.

Monday, August 11, 2014 by Lee Mannering

CPS, WGA, PMA partner to produce ag water report for industry

To help the industry evaluate and consider several years’ worth of scientific research findings, PMA and Western Growers Association (WGA) have partnered with the Center for Produce Safety (CPS) to deliver a report focused on agricultural water and its impact on food safety. Specifically, the report features key findings from CPS-funded research efforts and other public sources.

“CPS has funded a number of agricultural water research projects throughout the United States. We appreciate the time and resources provided by PMA and WG to review the body of work and provide a comprehensive report for use by the produce industry,” said Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli, executive director, Center for Produce Safety.

The report, titled Agricultural Water: Five-Year Research Review, addresses the following four key areas:

  • Human Pathogen Prevalence, Quality and Persistence in Agricultural Water
  • Transfer and Persistence of Human Pathogens from Contaminated Agricultural Water to the Agricultural Environment and Produce
  • Managing Agricultural Water Safety
  • Tools to Assess the Risk Posed by Agricultural Water Use and Practices

PMA Vice President of Food Safety & Technology Dr. Jim Gorny described the report as “an excellent resource for industry members participating in the forthcoming Food Safety Modernization Act produce rule policy debate regarding appropriate and effective agricultural water preventive control standards.”

If you have questions about this report or other research areas pertaining to food safety, science, and technology, please contact CPS’ Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli, PMA’s Dr. Jim Gorny, or WGA’s Hank Giclas.

Thursday, August 07, 2014 by Lee Mannering

Ad spends on social media to increase, Fresh Summit sessions to look at digital opportunities

According to a new survey from Mintel, the total advertising spend on social media in the U.S. will surpass $11 billion by 2017. Nearly 40 percent of U.S. social networkers said social media has some influence on them when conducting research for products and services. Men and women aged 18-34 are the most likely to use social media to guide purchase decisions, with 21 percent of 18-34-year-old men reporting they purchased a product by clicking on a social ad.

Mintel’s survey also found:

  • 79 percent of those surveyed have viewed or shared content from a company or visited a company’s social media page.
  • Nearly one quarter of networkers said they looked for more information on a search engine after seeing a video, image, or other social media post that a company put on social media and 28 percent said they visited the company’s website after seeing content from the brand.
  • Only 9 percent of networkers said they made a purchase by clicking on a social media ad; however, 11 percent said they purchased a product they saw advertised without clicking an ad, suggesting there is more to social advertising than direct conversions.
  • In terms of where to spend advertising dollars, Facebook was the clear winner, with 86 percent of networkers reporting they visit the site once a week or more, followed by YouTube (60 percent), Google+ (43 percent), Twitter (37 percent), and LinkedIn (30 percent) rounding out the top five.

If you’re interested in trends like these, we’ll be taking a look at digital opportunities during two sessions at Fresh Summit 2014, October 17-19 in Anaheim, California.

The first, “Staying Competitive with Digital Grocery Services,” will explore how online food retailing creates opportunities along the entire supply chain and show how different business models for Internet food shopping drive profitability. The second, “Blended Strategies for Using Digital Technology to Increase Sales,” will explore the building blocks of an effective digital marketing campaign and how you can cultivate consumer relationships, promote brand loyalty, and increase sales.

To learn more about Fresh Summit 2014, including how to register, visit the PMA website. Please note that early registration rates will apply until September 12.

Monday, August 04, 2014 by Lee Mannering

PMA leaders, staff appointed to USDA fruit and veg advisory committee

Recently U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced appointees to the agency’s re-chartered Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee. Included among several PMA member leaders named to serve on the committee was PMA President Cathy Burns. If you’re not familiar with the FVIAC and its mission, the committee’s purpose is to examine the full spectrum of issues faced by the fruit and vegetable industry and to provide suggestions and ideas to Secretary Vilsack on how the agency can tailor its programs to meet the fruit and vegetable industry’s needs.

“I’m honored to have been chosen to assist USDA and look forward to serving alongside members of our industry,” Cathy said. “Through the years, the advisory committee has made excellent recommendations that USDA has acted upon to better serve our industry. We appreciate USDA’s continued openness and outreach to industry as we work toward common goals.”

I’ve attended FVIAC meetings in the past and one of the things that impressed me was the diverse insights brought by each committee member to the discussions, and how USDA can use these to enhance the services it offers to industry.

“I’m thrilled with the committee’s makeup and certainly pleased to see Cathy Burns and PMA members named to the group,” said PMA CEO Bryan Silbermann. “Cathy’s leadership and consensus-building skills, along with her years of experience as a supermarket executive, will be an asset to the advisory committee’s work on issues of industry concern. Her involvement also supports work in PMA’s Issues Leadership value area, which focuses on finding solutions to industry issues that reduce barriers to consumption.”

To learn more about the FVIAC and its roster of industry members, visit the USDA website.

Thursday, July 31, 2014 by Lee Mannering

FSMA update: PMA comments on sanitary transportation of foods proposed rule

Yesterday, as part of our ongoing work with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act implementation, PMA submitted comments to FDA on its proposed rule for Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food. Our full comments, available here on the PMA website, address a number of aspects and concerns with the proposal.

In summary, here’s a look at some key issues raised by PMA Vice President of Food Safety & Technology Dr. Jim Gorny in those comments:

  • On bulk vehicle requirements, we believe that FDA’s proposed definition of “bulk vehicle” is overly broad in scope and should not include the transport of fruit and vegetable raw agricultural commodities.
  • On the definition of “farm,” we strongly support FDA’s departure from the definition of farm found in 21 CFR §1.227 (b)(3), as this new proposed definition is more closely aligned with the practical meaning of farming operations; however, further amendments are suggested.
  • Regarding raw agricultural commodities not requiring time/temperature control for safety, we support FDA’s tentative conclusion in the preamble discussion of this rule that: “FDA would not consider bananas and other foods that are similar in this regard and typically transported under temperature control solely for marketability purposes to be food that can support the rapid growth of undesirable microorganisms in the absence of temperature control and these foods therefore would not be subject to proposed § 1.908(a)(3)(iii).”
  • On defining foods that would require time/temperature control for safety, we request clarification regarding what is meant by “a food that requires time/temperature for safety to limit pathogenic microorganism growth or toxin formation” in that how will FDA in practical terms make this determination and is there a quantitative measure of “growth?”
  • Regarding farm transport operations, PMA has concerns regarding FDA’s proposed definition of “transport operations” specifically that, “transportation operations do not include any transportation activities for raw agricultural commodities that are performed by a farm.” It is suggested that all transportation activities for raw agricultural commodities before they are sold and placed into commerce, irrespective of who performs this activity, would not be considered transportation operations for the purposes of this rule.

As noted above, you can access our full comments on this FSMA proposed rule via our website. You can also access additional FSMA resources as well.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 by Lee Mannering

PMA Webinar to focus on opportunities to engage Millennial consumers

Over the past month or so, here on Field to Fork we’ve discussed a variety of trends associated with Millennial consumers (you can hit the Millennials tag at the bottom of this post to see more). Last week as PMA’s Foodservice Conference & Expo was kicking off, I saw that Technomic released some consumer trends insights on Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers and how they view foodservice operators.

Technomic noted that Gen Z represents the future foodservice consumer as an “on-the-move” generation that strongly prioritizes speed of service, technology, and having what they want, when they want it. Millennials, more so than older generations, prefer to visit restaurants that offer new and unique foods and flavors.

It also found that Millennials tend to be more optimistic about and reliant on foodservice: they’re more likely than older generations to anticipate increases in foodservice visits in the next year. Millennials are most likely to opt for delivery when selecting a dining-format preference and that they rank behind Gen Z when seeking speedy service at limited-service restaurants.

The Millennial demographic is a consumer base that our industry needs to understand and connect with to drive sales of fresh produce. To that end, PMA partnered with The Hartman Group to produce Outlook on the Millennial Consumer 2014, a report available on the PMA website that data on Millennials’ lifestyle and values and insight on their perspectives on health and wellness, food and beverages, foodservice, shopping, and technology/communication.

In addition to the report, we’re holding a Webinar next week to dive deeper into this study and share insights with our members. Scheduled for 2 p.m.-3 p.m. EDT on August 05, the Webinar will help you gain a deeper understanding of this dynamic group and learn how their evolving interests and cravings will impact and reshape your business. To register for this Webinar, visit the PMA website.