It is rare for retailers and producers of fresh produce to meet up over lunch. That is exactly why the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) annually hosts the PMA Retailers’ Connections Lunch. The 2019 lunch was hosted on 13 November 2019 at the Klein Kaap Boutique Hotel in Centurion. According to Lindie Stroebel, general manager at PMA, it was the third time the lunch was hosted and representatives of the three big retailers in South Africa attended, as well as top producers of fresh produce such as ZZ2.

Faces of the fresh produce industry. From left is Gert Upton of Schoonbee Landgoed, Anouk Sijmonsma of PMA, Arne Kaffka of Enza Zaden and CT van der Merwe, CEO of AL3 Boerdery.

What consumers want

AL3 Boerdery displayed their dragon fruit and dragon berry produce. The dragon berry is the latest product they offer and it is a bit smaller than dragon fruit. It is also easier to peel. Both characteristics make it an easy on-the-go snack, an important factor when trying to keep fresh produce on the consumer’s shopping list.

In 2020 consumers will strive to find a balance between low prices and enhanced shopping experiences. May Krugel, an experienced consumer marketing strategist, shared insights to the 2019 Nielsen SA Shopper Trends report which highlighted that local shoppers still look for the best price while also considering variety, quality and sustainability when they shop.

This means that promotions, benefits and loyalty programmes are more important than ever. As for an enhanced shopping experience, Krugel said that consumers look for a variety of high-quality products that still offer value for money. When it comes to making changes to their lifestyles to improve the sustainability of food production, millennials are quick to abide and they expect retailers to do the same. 

However, they also demand that the basics are in place. Products must be in stock, and the shopping area and well as trolleys must be clean. Some last notable trends Krugel emphasised were the fact that most consumers still shop in bulk at the beginning of the month, which gives fresh produce a good opportunity to make it onto the shopping list. Also, good news is that consumers increasingly opt for weekly top ups to make sure they always have fresh produce in the house.

Showcasing local growers

The lunch was also a great place for growers to showcase their produce. The exhibitors of the day were ZZ2, AL3 Boerdery, Harvest Fresh and Schoonbee Landgoed. They displayed their fresh produce and innovative packaging. The seed company Enza Zaden also delivered a presentation on how produce benefits for retailers such as longer shelf life is kept in mind when breeding seed for new fresh produce cultivars. – Ursula Human, AgriOrbit