The fresh fruit and vegetable market is dominated by commodity-driven products. In response, the industry has added categories at a rapid pace, hoping to gain greater margins. Major developments include organic, fair trade, ready-to-eat, exotics and prepared - all offering a point of difference. Well, at least before these categories, too, become commoditised.
So how do we avoid this and create long-term, sustainable points of differentiation?
Surprisingly, other than a handful of branded products such as Florette, Jaffa and Jersey Royals, there has been very little brand development in fresh produce. What tends to happen is that the varietal name, which could develop into a brand, supports the own-label positioning, such as Pepolino sweet mini peppers.
Good examples of fresh branded produce outside the UK are Jammers lettuce leaves, introduced as a snacking product in the US, and Cosberg lettuce in New Zealand - a cross between cos and iceberg lettuces.
If you consider the wine market over the last 25 years there exists a real opportunity to introduce branded fresh produce. In the wine category there has been a steady erosion of commodity lines for branded products. If we are to add real value to the fresh fruit and vegetable market within the UK we need to think seriously about the development and introduction of brands.
Your product must truly be different. And that starts back at the beginning of the chain, with the seed industry.
Through numerous consumer research studies we are aware that price is not an issue. This allows us to develop and introduce superior branded products that provide additional health, convenience and taste benefits.
Sustainable long-term growth and development will only be achieved if we continue to invest in R&D and marketing support. The development of branded products would lead to incremental growth and value right across the supply chain. Breeders, seed suppliers, growers, packers/shippers, wholesalers and retailers would all benefit and the additional money would provide long-term business platforms.
Seminis Vegetable Seeds, the leading producer of vegetable seeds in the world, is focused on value creation across the whole supply chain. A number of exciting products are being developed within tomatoes, peppers, brassicas, lettuce and melons. Key partners are being recruited. It's the way to go.