Changing Distribution Patterns in the U.S. Fresh Produce Industry
McLaughlin, Edward W.; Green, Geoffrey M.; Park, Kristen
The overall goal of this report was to estimate and describe the current product flows in the conventional fresh produce marketing channels in the midlate 1990s. By doing so, the report provides information useful to understanding the changing structure of the fresh produce industry as we approach the year 2000. The research upon which this report was based was carried out with a distinct two-part method. First, product flows and changes in operating practices in the U.S. fresh fruit and vegetable channels were estimated using secondary data from a number of principal sources. Data series from several agencies of the U.S. government, including the Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of the Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics provided most of the historical time series. Other traditional sources of information on the fresh produce industry included academic literature, various trade magazines and directories. In addition, the Cornell/Produce Marketing Association FreshTrack industry research project contributed industry data unavailable until recent years. Although not a complete census of produce industry operators, this project has extensively surveyed the four major sectors of the industry—grower shippers, wholesalers, retailers and food service operators—and assembled two years of primary, structural, operational and performance data from individual firms. The authors believe this new information constitutes the largest and most contemporary data source available on the fresh produce industry. Were compiled these data from many different sources and because not all years correspond precisely, it is not possible to provide these estimates for a single year. Therefore, the authors chose to describe the fresh produce system for an “average” year in the mid- to late-1990s. At each level in the system, the authors used the most recent data available at the time of publication were used.
Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University