Wanted: ‘E-daptable’ Fresh Produce Suppliers

A new era in online shopping is arriving, and it will increasingly impact fresh fruit, vegetables and floriculture supply chains. Just as tomorrow’s shopper will buy other groceries online, he or she will also buy fresh produce online. Suppliers that want to take advantage of this development have to adapt to the specific requirements of the e-shelf.

picture of online produce

A meteoric rise

While total retail sales are stagnant, online grocery sales in western Europe are expected to double in the coming five years. Looking further ahead, Rabobank expects that, in 2030, the share of online grocery shopping in total grocery shopping will be as high as 25 percent. The magnitude of this change will be similar to that of the rise of private label in the 1970s and the rapid rise of hard discounters since the turn of the century.

Fresh fruit and veg a click away

Several developments indicate consumers’ increasing willingness to buy fresh produce online. For a long time, consumers were accustomed to choosing their own fruit and vegetables in the store. Now, consumers are increasingly used to having their veggies delivered to their doorstep: either via regular supermarkets and meal kit deliveries, or via specialised online fresh produce suppliers.

Opportunities abound, changes afoot

Fresh produce suppliers (of fruit, vegetables and floriculture) that respond proactively to this development could cash in. The various online channels for fresh produce offer several opportunities: increased shelf space, the option of adding information about the product, active screen management, cross-sell opportunities and fresher products via a shorter supply chain. At the same time, suppliers may face challenges from increased competition and complexity, as well as changes to impulse-buying.