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Growers & Shippers

A Fresh Perspective: Exploring the Produce Industry at CPMA

This past week, our team from iTradeNetwork had the fantastic opportunity to delve into the dynamics of the produce industry at the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) convention and trade show. Joining iTradeNetwork to lead product marketing, my initial experience at the CPMA convention was an invaluable chance to dive deep into the produce industry's energetic environment, establishing direct connections with growers, shippers, and retailers. For product marketing, participating in such trade shows is essential—it allows us to gather rich insights into emerging trends and customer expectations, which directly influence how we develop and position our products. The insights gained from these interactions have been invaluable, highlighting the sector's complexity and energy. Here are the key takeaways that struck me the most:

1. Mastering Price Dynamics Through Presentation

During a tour of retail locations around Vancouver a produce manager revealed an insightful strategy in dealing with rising food costs. While price hikes are often beyond one's control, focusing on presentation can significantly enhance perceived value for customers, helping to maintain sales momentum despite market volatility.

2. Technology at Work: Traceability in Real Time

One of the highlights of the convention was seeing our traceability product in action. With just a quick QR scan, we could follow the journey of corn from a Florida farm to Vancouver shelves in less than a week! This technology not only enhances transparency but also boosts consumer trust and satisfaction.

3. Innovative Responses to Regulatory Changes in Packaging

Adapting to regulatory changes is a challenge but also an opportunity. At the convention, I saw first-hand how companies are meeting new packaging standards with innovative solutions, like 100% biodegradable packaging for potatoes. These initiatives align with regulatory demands and push forward the sustainability agenda. Such initiatives not only comply with new regulations but also push the envelope in environmental sustainability. CPMA and Canadian Grocer shared their list of new product innovation winners.

4. The Impact of Mergers and Acquisitions

The convention shed light on a significant trend: as leaders of family-run businesses retire, many opt to sell, paving the way for mergers and acquisitions. This presents growth opportunities but also poses integration challenges for the acquiring firms. Navigating these transitions effectively is crucial for sustaining growth and retaining the value of the acquired entities.  

5. Corporate Social Responsibility: More Than Just a Label

The demand for transparency in the produce industry continues to grow.  Consumers are increasingly interested in knowing more about the origins of their food, the conditions under which it was grown, and the journey it took to reach their plates. This interest is driving significant changes in the industry from implementing technology to consumer education.

6. Harnessing Insights from Procurement and Sales Leaders

We recently launched a new landing page within our Order Management System and gathered feedback at the convention. Direct interactions with customers gave us valuable insights into the update’s effectiveness. One user commented, "I really appreciate the streamlined approach on the new page—it simplifies my daily tasks considerably." This feedback is crucial for aligning our efforts with customer needs and expectations.

These observations from the CPMA convention not only reflect the current state of the produce industry but also illuminate paths for its future development. In my role at iTradeNetwork, I am excited to leverage these insights to refine our strategies and solutions, enhancing our contributions to the industry's evolution. Here’s to a future where innovation, sustainability, and technology continue to drive the produce sector forward!

Meet Laura Kaminski

Laura Kaminski is the Head of Product Marketing at iTradeNetwork, where she leverages her extensive expertise in product strategy and customer engagement to drive innovative solutions in the produce industry. She focuses on ensuring that each initiative not only meets current market demands but also anticipates future needs, ensuring unmatched service excellence. With a sharp eye for evolving market trends and a commitment to customer-centric innovation, Laura's goal is to propel iTradeNetwork to push the boundaries of innovation within the produce sector. Connect with Laura on LinkedIn.

Photo credit: Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA)

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