South African fruit growers must differentiate their products if they want to increase margins, according to Waitrose’s John Foley.

He said consumers were increasingly concerned with convenience, food safety and environmental issues, and not just quality.

Speaking at a produce marketing conference in Cape Town, Waitrose’s head of fruit, vegetables and horticulture pointed to the key trends that will drive sales forward. He is convinced that as the industry rationalises, the scenario would no longer be just distributors competing with each other, but entire supply chains.

However he stressed that multiples’ relationships with suppliers were far stronger, and there was room for those which could add value and were committed to long-term planning. Focus had shifted to “growing the size of the cake and not squabbling over the crumbs”.