NOT JUST ANOTHER TRADE SHOW – The Amsterdam Produce Show and Conference (APS) is a hotbed for knowledge sharing and transfer for the international produce industry
FOUR CORE THEMES RUN THROUGHOUT THE APS
Feature zones on the show floor looked at the ways in which both Dutch and international companies are addressing the challenges and opportunities in these areas, in order to increase the consumption of fresh produce in an ever-changing marketplace.
The main seminar stage, in the Transformatorhuis at the Westergasfabriek on November 3, 2016, focused on unique lessons that can be learned from the extraordinary role the Netherlands plays in the global produce industry. A quarter of all produce that passes in international trade goes through Holland. The host nation for APS provides intellectual leadership in many fields such as genetics, logistics and controlled environment agriculture. What is the Dutch secret to this outsized success? Our workshop and seminar programme is designed to provide an opportunity for attendees to mine insight from the very best in Dutch thought and practice leadership with the goal of profiting in their own businesses and advancing the produce trade around the world. The APS Knowledge Centre provides an opportunity to break through the often narrow focus on day-to-day operations and, instead, think about how high level global concerns will drive success in the produce trade in the years to come.
Innovative touches were abundant from an event perspective too – the food and drink was provided free to visitors by entrepreneurial young specialist chefs from Holland and chef demonstrations, ‘pop-up’ seminars and a ‘pop-up’ careers fair also brought something new to the show floor.
Innovation is everywhere. Everyday, every one of us most likely does something innovative in our everyday lives without realising it. But what does innovation mean in a business context? It is arguably an over-used word, attached blithely to any new product or idea, however ‘new’ that idea may be.
The word innovation might be better applied to solutions that meet existing, new or as-yet undiscovered requirements of the marketplace. By this definition, the produce industry is undeniably one of the most innovative sectors in the world, both using and manipulating nature to provide solutions that ensure the expanding population survives while eating nutritious, flavoursome, long-lasting, attractive and affordable fresh products throughout the year.
Corporate Social Responsibility is no longer a concept or a vision that you can entrust to someone else. Each and every company in the fresh produce industry has a responsibility for its impact on society and therefore a part to play in ensuring that all of its partners in the global supply chain are able to operate in a way that is sustainable for their environment, for their people and their customers and, just as importantly for their bottom line.
Our sustainability zone will feature Dutch and international companies that are driving innovative business approaches that create long-term consumer and employee value by rolling out a “green” strategy.
Without a credible education system, we are nothing. As we go about our jobs and head up the career ladder, it is easy to forget that behind us, there needs to be a continuing line of skilled and dedicated people to continue with our good work – maybe even improve on it.
There is a lack of young talent entering the fresh produce industry, despite the fantastic opportunities and lifestyle that this trade offers any young entrant. This is an industry that finds it difficult to enthuse young people, but once they are in our midst, we tend to find that they stay in produce for a long time.
The food and drink industry as a whole is the cog around which we all live our lives – demand will always remain strong. Its many different sectors offer a multitude of diverse and challenging roles and the fresh produce sector is chief among those. As key components of the food industry, the fruit and vegetables sectors are full of companies that offer interesting, diverse and potential-full roles for candidates in all areas – marketing, science, research and development, growing, sales, procurement, engineering etc. The rates of progression are generally high, the pay is relatively good and there is often a chance to travel.
So why are produce companies at all levels struggling to get young people through their doors and to find the next generation of leaders to sit around their boardroom tables?
Our Education Zone will feature some of the leading Education institutions in Holland and highlight the ways in which the industry can better engage with its natural feeder system for young people. The APS student programme will also bring in a large number of students – all of whom have a desire to work within the produce industry, and our innovative ‘pop-up’ careers fair will give the industry a valuable opportunity to meet and get to know these students, with a view to them finding their ideal ‘home’ within the industry.
What could be more important than our health? OK, that’s a rhetorical question – but which set of food products is most important for our health? We’re guessing you think that’s also a rhetorical question – but living in a continent that is being overwhelmed by an obesity epidemic, what we all know to be true is not necessarily shaping how we eat or live our lives.
Fresh produce is the most nutritious, healthy food category, but so few people eat the ubiquitous 5 a day that its meaning has almost been lost on consumers. They know it makes sense, but they cannot logically find a way to feed it into their lives. Oxfam recently found Holland to be the country in the world where it was easiest to sustain a healthy diet, but still the obesity challenge exists.
So what do we do? Or perhaps more importantly in the context of the APS, what are we already doing and how can we do that more extensively and better? Our Health Zone will explore some of the incredible initiatives that are already out there trying to encourage consumers to live a healthier lifestyle, to think about their dietary intake more extensively and to include more fresh produce in their meal and snacking occasions.
We explored what the industry can do to engage with consumers in different age groups – Generation Z, their apparently less important predecessors in Generation X and Y and the growing population of over 50s in the world. Is the health and nutrition message that we peddle really having an impact, or is there another route to success? This is not just a topic that is crucial to the future of the fresh produce industry – it holds the key to the future of the human race.