Seed companies look down the fresh produce distribution channel to innovate

If you are on a diet then you look at the fresh vegetable aisle in the grocery store and wonder whether the baby carrots are too sweet. You might also note differences in the rates of water spraying between grocery retailers. The same lettuce when sprayed,drained and in a well lit shelf looks great and your dieting efforts get a whole new motivation!

Seed companies look closely  at changing consumer behavior to innovate. They look at what the farming practices are, how the distribution to retailers work and the kind of changes that customer is willing to try. If you are in the salad  aisle you probably are much more open to try something new that is available. You are not being brand loyal here but are more motivated to buy produce that looks fresh. 

This willingness of customers to try something new in fresh produce puts a huge innovation pressure on seed companies. They must be on top of consumer preferences,retailer and distributor working styles and the lead time it takes for the fresh produce farmer to grow produce. And you can be sure that if you are a seed producer producing yesterday’s consumer  needs,  farmers will abandon you rapidly.

Compare the speed of today’s farmers in rejecting non-innovative  seeds to the legendary slow technology adoption by the hybrid corn growers of Iowa. Today’s farmer might put out a Tweet or Facebook message to friends as soon as s/he sees a particular lettuce selling better in the market!

Hybrid corn seed growers had a hard time to convince farmers to try them and now no innovation is soon enough  and Lisa Zaglin, marketing director for Feasterville, Pa.-based Abbott & Cobb, said “consumer demand for quality produce on a 12-month cycle has breeders under the gun to provide varieties that can be grown under diverse growing conditions in different regions” . (source The Packer – March 2011 article link not working).

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