Innovation pathways towards more sustainable production and consumption in the fruit-vegetable supply chain

Innovation pathways towards more sustainable production and consumption in the fruit-vegetable supply chain

Fruit and vegetable consumption is below recommended levels and should increase to come closer to a more healthy and sustainable diet in Europe. The aim of the a new SUSFANS deliverable is to identify innovation pathways in the fruit and vegetable chain from a consumer perspective.

SUSFANS researcher are showing in their new paper the different elements of a consumer perspective, their relevance and above all the need to combine consumer, production and circular perspectives on innovation to support fruit and vegetables consumption. To understand or even stimulate consumption behaviour a wide array of drivers need to be taken into consideration, which relate to the individual (biological, demographics, psychological), the product, the interpersonal, physical environment and policy. These are represented in consumption-related innovations such as: targeting, motivating, contextual, communicating and acceptance of innovations; product related innovation such as: product, production, and package; and circular innovations (in particular around reducing food waste).


Case of fruit and vegetable consumption from a consumer perspective

This paper is meant to inspire, raise awareness, and continue the discussion on a strengthened consumer perspective in the innovation strategies, foresight and modelling work in SUSFANS. It describes the case of fruit and vegetable consumption from a consumer perspective and identifies possible innovation pathways towards more sustainable consumption patterns.

The researcher reflect that

  • There is a huge amount of possible combinations of innovations which should be brought together and show the need for the right combinations in order to reach the right consumer with the right product under the specific circumstances in the right condition.
  • There is a broad range of drivers influencing consumer acceptance of innovations. The presented innovation strategies and pathways show the need for a multifaceted approach. Ideal innovations or innovation pathways should consider both consumers, product and processing as well as context and how to deal with waste or rest streams. While in practice there could be also innovations only considering product and consumer or consumer and process.
  • All issues related to consumer show that it might be hard to reach consumers while their food choice is just one of their daily life activities which needs attention thus it doesn’t have consumers priority as we would like it to be. It is more than targeting and changing diet but also issues related to consumers’ mind-set such as culture, involvement, intentions attitudes should be taken into consideration. More radical or cultural changes in eating habits might be needed to raise consumption levels to the recommended levels since traditions with regard to food consumption and it’s culture needs to be changed.
  • Pathways can be directed towards fruits and vegetables in general or specifically for fruits or for vegetables. Whereas in general similar strategies are relevant, there are some crucial differences between fruits and vegetables in terms of intake, usage, moments, consumer preferences, processing, and to some degree also health and sustainability.
  • The innovation pathways are put into the perspective of three scenarios, possibly one or more scenarios need to be added. Innovation pathways based on a set of innovations need to be identified and scaled under contextual change (culture, economic, policy) and the indirect drivers of consumer behaviour such as megatrends, shift in demographic profile of the population, etc. To be checked if these scenarios are there next to each other and which scenario is expected to have more or less impact?

All those points will be discussed in the next SUSFANS workshop.


Right combination is needed

The researcher conclude that in order to develop successful innovation pathways there should be attention for the right combination of targeting consumers, product, context and or communication and circularity. The identified innovation strategies are multifaceted related to consumer, fruits and vegetables together or separately, contextual and or circular. Theory about consumer insights and examples of innovations strategies and pathways are provided for the case of fruits and vegetables. Further exploration and discussion is needed to support the consumer perspective in innovations and link this to foresights, research and or modelling.