Archive for September 2010


Fresh vs Frozen fruit and vegetables – the debate begins in US

Few weeks ago, Bruce Peterson of Wal-Mart said that advance in frozen vegetables represent a threat to the fresh produce industry in US.  How does the fresh produce industry respond to this threat, a keen industry observer asked?

Some lateral thinking on the subject.

Let’s face it. Freezing fresh fruit and vegetables is a highly energy intensive industry. Though a dated report, according to the U. S. Census Bureau, the U.S. had 235 frozen fruit, juice, and vegetable processing facilities in 2002 which consumed an estimated 2,925,970,000 kWh of electricity, and had energy costs totaling more than $276 million (includes electricity and other fuels).

Flavors and other advances notwithstanding, growth of frozen fruit and vegetables in foreseeable future shall be driven by the energy availability, cost and its alternate uses. Capitalizing on this fact through advertisements is perhaps the best defense to respond to this threat. Let’s fresh produce industry join hands to have an ‘energy efficiency brigade’ do this job.

Freezing also changes the market dynamics for fresh produce. If it is not for freezing at peak availability, market prices for fresh shall remain low, rather dirt cheap. Low prices in turn shall ensure better availability of fresh in the market place and thereby, increased consumption due to lower prices. Price / demand elasticity for few commodities shall play it role here. A good copy writer or a social activist can capitalize on this situation and build some campaign for a consumer education campaign.

Having said above, job building potential by frozen F&V industry is well appreciated. So this lateral thinking is to be considered only in view of the greater macro economic picture.