As the floral market works together to grow a healthier world, it’s critical to stay on top of current trends and issues, both inside and outside of the industry. Produce Marketing Association (PMA) chief executive officer Cathy Burns shares insights from her “State of the Industry” address at the 2019 “Fresh Summit” trade show held in Anaheim, California.


“The top five takeaways from the state of the fresh produce and floral industries address at PMA’S 2019 fresh summit convention + expo in anaheim.”


1. Conscious Capitalism Connects Consumers and Companies

Today’s shoppers seek businesses that align with their own values and who strive to make a positive impact in the world.

According to market research from professional services company Accenture, nearly two-thirds of global consumers prefer to purchase goods and services from companies that stand for a shared purpose. Sixty-five percent of consumers admitted their purchasing decisions are influenced by the words, values and actions of a company’s leaders. Sixty-two percent said they are attracted to organizations that are committed to improving the environment.

As business leaders and policy makers grapple with important issues such as climate change and plastic waste, consumers worldwide are demanding more corporate social responsibility and sustainable practices from businesses.

According to PMA members and consumer focus groups, we determined that how and where we, as business leaders, talk about sustainability doesn’t necessarily line up with what consumers are interested in.

Consumers are focused on packaging, waste, and energy usage, while growers and suppliers often talk about water and soil health. In fact, the biggest issues that resonate with consumers are zero waste and energy efficiency.

If you are passionate about sustainability, stay tuned as the PMA will soon launch a toolbox to assist our members in recognizing sustainable business practices and communicating their stories.

2. Forget FOMO—It’s Time For JOMO

FOMO is an acronym for the “Fear Of Missing Out”; JOMO, on the other hand, means the “Joy Of Missing Out.” While consumers have in the past been accused of being too focused on their own digital media, recent trends show consumers unplugging in an effort to make more time for themselves. Because fruits, vegetables and floral play a role in the physical and emotional health of people, produce must target the emotional needs of the consumer to ensure growing consumption of its products.

By reducing their time online and cutting down on their social engagements, consumers are beginning to reconnect with themselves, which has helped—we hope—rejuvenate their mental well-being.

Research by the World Economic Forum ( found that over a five-year period, increases in fruit and veg consumption is linked to increases in self-reported mental well-being and life satisfaction. Meanwhile on the floral side, several start-ups are capitalizing on improving the mental state of consumers through home delivery of plants, hoping to alleviate the stresses and anxieties felt by the younger generations.

The notion of “plants bringing joy and happiness to consumers” was one the PMA explored in our groundbreaking consumer study, “Floral Market Demand Space” (, which examines the functional and emotional drivers behind floral purchases.

Our study found that although there is appreciation for fresh flowers among consumers, U.S. floral sales haven’t traditionally been as robust as it is elsewhere in the world—unlike the overall cultural acceptance and everyday use of flowers in Europe.

3. Megatrends Reshape Lifestyles and Purchasing Decisions

Demographic shifts combined with evolving generational attitudes and lifestyles are reshaping the consumer mix and creating new opportunities for produce and floral. Our industry, regardless of where we fall in the supply chain, must understand the end consumer. To that end, we continue to track three megatrends that are currently reshaping consumer lifestyles and purchasing decisions: rapid urbanization; an aging population, and; accelerating migration.

The urban population is expected to increase by 25 percent by the year 2030, which is nearly twice the pace of total non-urban population growth during the same period. Mature age groups will increase the fastest, with people aged 65 and older accounting for 13 percent of the world’s population (or 1 billion people). In the U.S., they will represent 19 percent of the population.

These three megatrends will greatly impact the produce industry. To help our members understand more about select international markets, we have released our “Global Market Tracker” (

There is also a new suite of reports on drivers and barriers for produce consumption in Australia, Brazil, China, South Africa and the U.S., which are available at These reports can be used to make decisions, develop strategies and meet consumer demand.

4. Sustainability Sways Staff

Corporate sustainability plans and practices matter. Again, values alignment impacts employee (and customer) loyalty.

As younger generations join the workforce, we must become more strategic in our approaches to accommodate the talent we need now and in the future.

Accessing talent is a business strategy that must be viewed as a horizontal platform cutting across your whole operation. You need to get the right people at the table to not only fulfill your need for skills, but also to forge a receptive culture where innovative ideas and winning strategies can thrive and flourish.

According to Deloitte’s latest study, 84 percent of CEOs said they need to rethink their workforce experience to improve productivity. Rethinking the workforce experience includes reskilling existing employees through training and education programs.

Thirty percent of millennials say businesses have the greatest responsibility for preparing workers, followed by educational institutions. But Gen Z reverses this, with 36 percent saying the responsibility lies with colleges and secondary educational schools, and then businesses.

Among Gen Z workers analyzing potential jobs, opportunity for growth was the No. 1 factor they considered, followed by work-life blend, and compensation.

5. Technology Matters: From Tracking To Training

Failure to recognize the critical impacts of new technologies and produce science endangers both a company’s future and consumer trust in our industry.

Product recalls and foodborne illness outbreaks continue to affect consumer confidence in our food supply. If we do not correct the produce safety problems in our industry, there will be continued erosion of consumer trust.

Our new online “Essentials in Produce Safety” program ( is designed to help strengthen your businesses through training that ensures the latest best safety produce practices are being understood and applied by your employees and supply chain partners.

This past year has seen a continued emphasis on technology. Sometimes this focus is for in-store logistics, and at other times it is simply about making consumers’ lives easier.

Euromonitor predicts that technology will continue to revolutionize the in-store experience for consumers by giving them more opportunities to engage with products.

As an industry, we should continue to focus on who has access to technology and how development is funded. This is one of the many reasons PMA has entered a three-year strategic global partnership with SVG Ventures, a leading agri-food innovation ecosystem, to connect growers with cutting-edge technology solutions.

The innovations made possible by our collaboration will be the critical next steps to addressing the big questions of how we overcome current food production issues and feed our growing world.