Food trends under the microscope at European Vegetable Strategies

The second EVS explored how the use of fresh vegetables can offer the sector some growth opportunities. New food trends are presenting themselves. The message is that suppliers of fruit, vegetables and potatoes need to respond strategically to changing patterns of customer behaviour.

In search of answers
The international journals Eurofruit, Fruchthandel and Fresh Produce Journal got together for the second year in succession to organise the 'European Vegetable Strategies' congress. As many as a hundred experts enjoyed an informal reception the evening before, laid on by joint sponsors Flandria and VLAM.
The second edition was looking for an answer to the question of how the use of fresh vegetables can offer the sector some growth opportunities. There were a number of key issues to explore: what steps does the fresh vegetable sector need to take to raise its profile? How can fresh vegetables cash in on the social trend towards healthier eating? Which categories help the growth in fresh vegetable sales?

New market strategies
Various speakers looked at trends in the European fruit, vegetables and potatoes consumer market and proposed some new marketing strategies. The opening speaker, English analyst Ed Garner, presented the trends on the British market. The strong growth of discounters, Aldi and Lidl, is the most salient feature. Nicolas Lecloux of True Fruits talked about the success of the vegetable smoothie in Germany. “It is difficult to look to the future, but suppliers of fruit, vegetables and potatoes have to react strategically to changing patterns of customer behaviour,” stressed Cor Molenaar, lecturer at the Erasmus University and famous for his book, Kijken, kijken ... Anders kopen, which deals with changing patterns of customer behaviour.
The market visit got 'down to earth' with two new concepts: the French chains Grand Frais and Réseau O'tera, where freshness is central. Most fresh fruit and vegetables are supplied direct by the farmers from the region. Hans Verwege, marketing analyst at Enza Zaden, admitted that these concepts are very innovative.

Mixed feelings
Some people have mixed feelings when they look to the future. What are the wishes and demands of the so-called 'Generation Y' (born after 1980)? What is the pattern of thinking and consumption of this generation, which has grown up with technology and the use of social media? It is clear that their pattern of thinking and purchasing will play a big role in the future for fruit, vegetables and potatoes. Eco-friendly packaging, convenience, organic products, interest in the background of food and so on are the buzzwords for this generation of the future.
Anneleen Leon, product manager for fruit and vegetables at VLAM, closed the event by still pointing to the various fruit and vegetable campaigns in order to show the level of efforts being made to stimulate consumption of fruit, vegetables and potatoes here at home. Dutch colleagues from the sector contributed the results of their search for alternative sales markets elsewhere in the world, under pressure from the closure of the Russian market to European fruit, vegetable and potato products.

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