Can You Keep Up? By Bridget White

At the risk of sounding too trite, things are certainly changing in our industry right now. I know everyone feels like they have been through a lot the past few years, such as the rise of merchandising, supplier consolidation and pay by scan, just to mention a few.

Unfortunately, I'm seeing more change in the air, especially for the industry's largest growers, and it could mean radical adjustments to the way we do business, how we market our product and whether or not we ultimately succeed.

Recent Developments

In just the two months since the last issue of GPN's Big Grower, we have heard reports about program changes in two of the nation's major retailers (see page 23 for information about Wal-Mart's pilot merchandising program) and disturbing financial news from the industry's largest producer (an in-depth exploration of Hines' financial report can be found on page 20).

Should we assume that these three events happening together are an indication of more to come or a mere coincidence?

I think it's too soon to know, but there certainly are other people making predictions. Many industry experts are starting to predict considerable supplier consolidation over the next 3-5 years, eventually leading to the formation of the mega-grower — huge growers growing on hundreds and hundreds of acres and exclusively serving entire geographic regions.

What's Next?

For me, it's a little too frightening to think about so many companies in our industry disappearing. I guess for each of you the big concern is how you can make sure you come out on top…how you can keep up with all the changes in the industry.

I hope no one is waiting for a magic pill, because they never come. Besides, anyone who is waiting (i.e., standing still) has already been left behind. Again with the triteness, but the companies that will succeed in all the changes ahead are the ones that work at it — the ones that never take too long to admire what they have accomplished because they are always thinking about what they will accomplish next.

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Bridget White

Bridget WhiteEditorial Director

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