The Produce Marketing Association, along with five innovative industry members, attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to learn about the technologies that will advance the global fresh floral and produce industries. Through the taste and feel of fresh produce and floral at our farmer’s market on the tradeshow floor, the conversations industry partners had, as well as PMA's VP of Technology Vonnie Estes’s participation on the 5G and Robotics panel, the fresh produce and floral industry was well represented at CES.
Representing the produce and floral industries and CES 2020 from left to right: Scott Rutherford (PMA), Marc Oshima (Aero Farms), Cecil Jose Alfaro (P&F Flowers), Lori Taylor (Produce Moms), Vonnie Estes (PMA), Johnna Hepner (PMA), Drew Zabrocki (Centricity), Lou Perez (Apeel Sciences)
Here are their top industry insights from CES 2020.
AI is a gamechanger
Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics were the central theme of many sessions they attended. The more the industry can delegate repetitive everyday decisions to machines, or use algorithms to make those decisions, the more efficient operations will be, giving a competitive advantage and significant ongoing cost savings.
For example, artificial intelligence can be utilized to analyze data from sensors in the field or greenhouse and make decisions about how to efficiently apply water and fertilizer to specific plants, or to pick produce and flowers at the perfect time for packaging and distribution. This can have a significant impact on the quality of produce and flowers sold and increase profitability along the supply chain.
And, from a sustainability perspective, it could reduce the use of water and fertilizer, improve soil health, and reduce waste due to spoilage.
Technology can seem cold and unfeeling, creating a gap with the human desire for authenticity. Consumers want to strip things back to the way they used to be, with trends such as the #throwback or the caveman/paleo diet. Fresh produce and floral should be at the forefront of consumers’ minds when they think about natural, authentic products. People are used to interacting with electronics or technology at CES, and the farmer’s market brought a fresh touch of flowers and produce to the show floor. Attendees walking by the booth stopped to take pictures of the fresh product before walking away with a healthy and delicious snack or a beautiful bouquet of flowers.