INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Due to an insufficient number of responses to an industry survey, a special report on the state of the booming fresh-cut produce industry has been postponed until mid-May.
The report was originally slated to be released at the annual convention of the National Association of Fresh Produce Processors held here March 27 to 30. However, the return rate on the surveys -- mailed to fresh-cut processors in January -- was too low to accurately represent the industry, according to the survey's designer, Ronnie De La Cruz, owner of De La Cruz Consulting & Training, Salinas, Calif. NAFPP commissioned De La Cruz and a researcher from the University of California at Davis to design and analyze the survey as well as to issue a report on the findings.
For anyone involved in marketing precuts, the survey results will help answer questions about such issues as packaging, product mix, sanitation, production and distribution, De La Cruz said. "We were anticipating a 30% response rate, which is rather high for surveys in general but certainly achievable for this industry," he said. "We went into the convention with a response rate of 18%."
While a response rate of 18% is generally acceptable for drawing conclusions from surveys, De La Cruz pointed out that the diversity of the fresh-cut suppliers made it necessary to garner more feedback.
"There are small regional and large national suppliers. It's not in anyone's interest to be underrepresented."
In a presentation at the convention, De La Cruz encouraged processors to complete the survey. De La Cruz explained that the survey is designed to give back important baseline data that will help growers, processors and retailers alike plan for the future growth in precuts.
The survey has four basic objectives, he said. First, it will quantify the current size and structure of the value-added/ precut produce industry. Currently no accurate figure exists, although some industry observers estimate the size of the market anywhere from $1.6 billion to $4 billion in sales annually.
Second, the survey will quantify the projected five-year growth as well as past growth of the industry. This will help suppliers plan their future physical capacity, investments and product line extensions, De La Cruz said. It will also help retailers project their future merchandising needs.
Third, the survey should quantify obstacles and opportunities for the industry, so the NAFPP can develop programs tailored to those issues.
Finally, it will help the industry increase its market presence by getting important information about precut products out to retailers and consumers.