Produce Marketing Association Australia-New Zealand's CEO told Hort Connections that while the COVID-19 pandemic has provided many disruptions, some key Australian fresh produce consumer trends have not changed significantly.
Discussing the organisation's State of the Industry report, three key members of the horticulture industry discussed their insights and key trends. Head of Produce at Woolworths Supermarkets Paul Turner joined Hort Innovation's Chief Executive Officer, Matt Brand and Harris Farm CEO Tristan Harris.
Via videolink, due to COVID-19 restrictions preventing cross-border travel, Darren Keating told the conference that investments in technology and automation have kept going, even throughout the disruptive 2020-2021.
"To see the breadth of investment in a year where everyone could have sunk back and sat it out, instead there was a lot of work going on," he said. "There are a number of investments that have kept going and even retail stores have been investing in new stores and new formats – and ultimately new ways to get to their consumers."
The report identified four key themes that impacted the supply chain from grower to consumer; health, consumption, technology and lifestyle, which it says has changed the way in which human beings are becoming involved. It also noted that while COVID has had a huge impact on the world, it has not changed key consumer trends and drivers but it has brought on rapid acceleration and re-prioritisation.
"It was a really mixed up year for many businesses, and one of the real challenges is that we haven't all had the same experiences; depending on where you are in the supply chain you would have experienced it differently," Mr. Keating said. "For a lot of companies the key trends that we looked at stayed true, but the way in which some have been able to approach them and the way consumers have made changes in adopting them has changed. An example is online shopping; many of us didn't choose to do that it was forced upon us. It was a question of how businesses responded and how many consumers will continue it now it has started."
FreshPlaza will feature more insights from the panel discussion in the coming weeks.
Showcasing an innovative pallet wrapping solution to the horticulture industry
Wholesale Packaging company Omni Group Australia attended Hort Connections as its first horticulture trade show. Business Development Manager Crowe-Maxwell says the company previously worked in the logistics and manufacturing industries, but the company wants to break into the horticulture industry, after seeing a way to keep produce fresher.
"Historically, ventilated wrap has been perforated and it is very expensive to make," he said. "That's because you have the perforations and the reinforcement, basically to make sure it doesn't break. We have been selling that ourselves for the past 6-7 years and what we found was when you wrap to get the load containment, you need to come back down to the bottom of the pallet and when you do, you cover a lot of the perforation holes. So, you are not getting the ventilation that you desire."
Omni Group has come up with a ventilated pallet wrapping solution called VentX Unico, which uses the current stretch wrap that is loaded into three rolls on the same core.
"The key to the success of it all is what we call the ropers," Mr Crowe-Maxwell said. "What they do is that they decrease the film to thinner bands, and that makes it four times the strength. That means your containment is as strong as it possibly can be. You also get more ventilation because the holes in the boxes or cartons are left open. In terms of ripening gases and snap freezing of pallets, this solution allows the coolness to get to the centre of the pallet much quicker, so you are saving on energy. Basically, there are three key points; you use less plastic which is good for the environment, you get better ventilation and there are costs savings such as energy."
Omni Group has received Awards for VentX Unico from the Australasian Packaging Innovation & Design (2021 PIDA) – Gold Winner for Sustainable Packaging Design of the Year (Industrial) and Silver Winner for Design Innovation of the Year (Outside of the Box), and Finalist at Hort Connections in the National Awards for Excellence in two categories: Visy Industry Impact & Butler Market Gardens Environmental.
For more information:
Phone: +61 419 425 973