Purple tomatoes, more convenience products, an expansion of sustainable packaging options, the appearance of vertical farm booths, and the recent acquisitions in the produce industry. It’s a small impression of what happened at the Global Produce & Floral Show in Anaheim, California, this past Friday and Saturday. It was the first time in four years the show returned to California. More than 1,160 companies exhibited, and the event brought attendees from more than 60 countries together, of which several greenhouse growers, vertical farming companies, and suppliers of both industries.
James Carew, Trevor Kenkel, and Emily Donaldson with Springworks.
According to the International Fresh Produce Association, this edition saw the greatest guest list in produce and floral. While the show was well attended, the first day was for sure busier than the second day.
Overall, exhibitors were happy with the turnout and also showed cautious optimism about the market. The industry has been severely challenged over the last year, with higher input costs, increasing interest rates, labor issues, and bankruptcies, resulting in investors keeping their money in their pockets. The uncertainty in the market resulted in a slower market, although several parties continued their expansion schedule.
One thing that was evident this year is that the number of acquisitions in the produce industry continues and seems to be taking place across all commodities. As a result, some booths represented several companies that were exhibiting under one umbrella name.
Within the horticulture segment, there was a higher number of suppliers this year, driven by IFPA having installed a dedicated CEA council. For the first time, vertical farms also found their way to the show, including companies like Bowery Farming, Plenty, and 80 Acres Farms. They showed their lettuce products and had a remarkable amount of recently launched fresh salad kits on display. Within the greenhouse industry, new tomato, cucumber, and sweet pepper products were launched, as well as a new greenhouse-grown melon variety. Production of greenhouse-grown strawberries continues to increase, with an organic option now available as well.
Jess Dillon, Warren Bisshop, Dan Hasson, and Elise Loveless with Revol Greens.
Reza Bakhtiyari, Brandon Gruenberger, Ron Mehdipour of Milennium Pacific, an independent, family-run modern hydroponic greenhouse.
More and more companies are offering sustainable packaging solutions as consumers increasingly feel the need to reduce single-use plastic. At the same time, a lot of convenience products are packed for individual consumption, creating a higher need for packaging as well as generating waste. Punnets, cardboard boxes, but also recyclable mesh bags are entering the market. The labeling segment is developing labels that are home-compostable and recyclable.
Probably one of the most notable new products seen at the show is a purple tomato. This genetically modified tomato was created by inserting snapdragon genes into tomato cell DNA. Purple tomatoes contain a higher level of antioxidants compared to traditional tomatoes and have a beautiful appearance on the plate. Will consumers decide to put them in their shopping carts?
As the name makes clear, it’s also a flower show – IFPA focuses on the buyers in the North American fresh category, including produce and floral, and with over 120 exhibitors, the flower pavilion knew one of its biggest editions yet.
So, before we dive further into the market, let’s first look at some photos!