Greenfarm, being a producer of apples and an active exporter to a number of markets, took note of recent trends in consumer preferences when it came to their apples. Volodymyr Glus is the founder of Green Farm and states there are a number of regional tendencies in consumer preferences.
"While there are a number of regional tendencies in consumer preferences on the apple market, only a few have a global scope," Glus explains. "Consumers worldwide are moving away from the concept of mainstream apples towards niches that appeal to different segments of trade. In other words, consumers are shifting towards producers or products that resonate with their values and are ready to pay a premium price for such choices. One of the trends is traceability. A lot of consumers, especially in the most developed countries are keen to know the producer behind the product and want to be able to evaluate his ethical conduct, environmental and social practices, biodiversity preservation, and sustainability. For instance, one of our clients from the UK has requested us to modify Green Farm’s plant protection programs in order to minimize the risk of damage for certain bug populations. This was important to his clients and we were happy to comply with this request as it also in line with our strategy."
Another intensively growing segment is the 'green consumer'. According to Glus this means a rising demand for organic, bio or 'green' producers when it comes to apples: "The “green” producers, my company Green Farm being a representative of this group, have no organic certification, but do reduce or eliminate pesticides, conserve the soil and water. These kinds of producers are actively growing worldwide. A good example would be growers with TFA certification in the USA. TFA was the only labeling program in the Pacific Northwest that required specific farm practices and third-party monitoring, but now TFA-approved farmers are earning the recognition of environmentally conscious shoppers and garner public goodwill in the USA." Glus says.
"Another trend that might sound very straightforward is taste. While running after storage and logistics potential for the apples, producers have started to harvest a lot earlier than is optimal for preservation of the balance between storability potential and ripeness - and thus the taste of apples," Glus explains. "But the bad news for such an approach, is that consumers now want food that is full in taste. The best demonstration for this trend in food and beverage industry is the rise of craft beers that is in a nutshell a return to the original taste of the product as it should be."
Now the question is whether it's realistic for apple producers to cope with the trends. Glus feels one needs to consider two main aspects to answer this question; geographical location and the level of company management: "The geographical location is important, as many growers that are located in inferior areas for apple growing will have issues like higher pesticide usage, due to high humidity and thus more pesticide sprays. Poor taste due to lack of sun or unsuitable temperatures and a shorter vegetative period. Poor management is often found in the agro business and would be another challenge to overcome. If a company does not have the two issues mentioned above, then the success formula is; knowledge plus time multiplied by effort."
When taking these trends in consideration, Glus predicts how companies will have to engage the industry: "Overall, we should expect consumer expectations for taste, traceability and healthfulness to continue to rise. Many companies will need to reinvent themselves in order to make fair profit and remain successful on the market. In case apple producers fail to do so, they will be left to compete on the basis of price and appeal only to price sensitive consumers. This is also an option but in the long run it leads to the business becoming marginalised."