The produce industry has seen drastic changes throughout 2020. Between organic produce growing at a much faster rate and labor disruptions, COVID-19 has impacted produce in every part of the supply chain. Unlike the produce industry where workers are essential and must physically be in warehouses, fields, and offices throughout the course of this pandemic, many Americans are able to complete their work each day remotely. So, what does working remotely look like for the future of produce?
Even as restrictions ease and restaurants are able to open for outdoor dining, consumers will continue to dine out less due to safety hazards and pricing. With much of the U.S. workforce currently unemployed and being cautious with their money, the produce industry must adapt to satisfy the needs of those working from home. Working from home has given rise to delivery services due to convenience and safety concerns.
Produce managers will need to take into consideration the fact that many in-store (and online) shoppers may not be browsing like they used to. Rather than taking time to compare brands and prices, shoppers are looking for the quickest and cheapest option that will meet their needs. Substitutes become very important to take note of because shoppers may not care whether their apple is conventional or organic as long as they have apples stocked in their home. When consumers order grocery delivery, substitution will be the most important thing for both them and the grocery stores to consider.
Working from home has also made many Americans new believers in the tastiness of home cooked meals. The number of people now cooking at home has risen drastically due to the initial shutdown of most restaurants. Cooking from home has allowed most people to feel safe about what they are consuming as well as allowed them to eat healthier (than if they had gone for a carb-loaded dinner like in pre-COVID times). This shift in consumers wanting to be healthier stems not only from restaurants closing but also for health reasons. If “you are what you eat,” then eating healthy means potentially building up your immune system and helping to fight off the virus.
The idea of eating healthier to ensure optimum health is not a new one and is highlighted further by the Produce Marketing Association. Looking at food consumption like medicine will continue to impact the produce industry through 2021. The produce industry should think about promoting their fruit and vegetables as a contributing factor in fighting illness. Sharing knowledge or POP materials on which helpful vitamins are in which products and how they will boost shoppers’ immune systems is a good first step.
In order for the produce industry to adjust to consumers working remotely, companies will need to look at improving access for delivery services, considering the importance of substitutes, and promoting food as medicine to shoppers. If you work in produce and need creative marketing strategies that will help your company thrive during the pandemic, please schedule a free consultation now.