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Earl
Market Watch
By Judie Steeves
Quality, efficiency can
y data shows consumers cutting back
help fruit and vegetable
believes. Consumers are not as likely
to go back to older varieties such as
growers cope with
reds, available at lower prices, as to
try to get the varieties they like at
recessionary challenge:
lower prices.
W
O’Rourke
time to be launching a new variety
However, this will not be a good
unless it can generate really quick
profits for the retailer, he advises.
ith today’s recession having
an impact on everything we
the opportunities for organic growers
O’Rourke is not optimistic about
to receive a premium for their
important that growers concentrate
buy, it’s even more
products during this period.
on producing high-quality fruit, as
efficiently as possible, advises world
foods, or those sold at a premium,
Instead, he says sales of upscale
fruit market analyst and founder of
such as organic, are likely to be hit.
Belrose Inc. in Washington State,
Desmond O’Rourke.
being no longer willing to pay
“We are hearing reports of retailers
growers a premum for organic
has already cut into the incomes and
He says that, clearly, the recession
products. The pressure is already so
spending habits of many consumers.
bad in England that the main organic
Big-ticket items such as travel,
certification body, the Soil
entrertainment and gambling have
Association, has been mulling a
all been hit.
waiver that would allow organic
livestock producers to use non-
not on the recession per se, but on
Much of the blame is being placed
organic feed.”
the wealth effect, the loss of affluence
that many have suffered as the value
will be in offering “value
The key for growers and marketers
of their homes, stocks and pensions
propositions” to both retailers and
have tumbled.
consumers.
Desmond O’Rourke
to get good data on what has
O’Rourke says it’s a little early yet
and reducing costs through greater
That will mean both lifting quality from as close as possible to home,
happened, or will happen, to food
efficiencies.
may be diminished by the recession.
sales. However, numerous surveys
are showing that consumers are
inefficient growers.
It will present a major challenge to is a fad that is relatively unrealistic
O’Rourke feels the local movement
given the rich diversity of products
claiming to be eating more at home,
buying less prepared foods, using
that the move to purchase locally,
He doesn’t hold out much hope consumers have become accustomed
more coupons, frequenting discount
which is being encouraged by the
to, most of which cannot be grown
stores more often, and generally
provincial government currently, will
locally.
trading down.
do well in these times. some of the fallacies behind the local
The current recession will expose
to have cut back on purchases of
In some surveys, consumers claim
“100-mile diet,” which encourages
Effects of such initiatives as the food movement, he believes.
fruits and vegetables because of
consumers to purchase food products go to: www.e-belrose.com
For regular reports from O’Rourke
price.
much these changes are affecting
“The data isn’t in to show how
Agricultural Nets
actual food purchases. However, I
suspect that health motives for
buying produce will weaken,” he said.
Farm Management Softwar
attributes may be better saved for
So, marketing produce for those
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basics such as apples or bananas are
Within the fruit and veg categories,
less likely to be hit than are pricey
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items such as asparagus or sweet
cherries, O’Rourke predicts.
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6
varieties could lose ground, he
However, some premium apple
British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Spring 2009
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