I was in Europe in the last week of May to attend the Spring Meeting of the International Federation for Produce Standards Board being held in Rotterdam.  While there, I was able to enjoy a very well organized and fascinating industry tour arranged by IFPS member association Frug I Com, which took in a range of fresh produce sites that included glasshouse, packing and retail operations.

As always, I had my “what’s happening in the nearest supermarket fresh produce department” eye open, and this is what I saw:

This is a wall of panklaar – and a very large and well stocked wall it was.  For non-Dutch speakers, panklaar literally means “ready for the pan” or “immediately useable”.  Basically, it was a dizzying array of prepared fresh produce in various combinations and permutations for the householder to take home and cook with no fuss, no mess and no phone call to mother for instructions required.  Flatmate heaven!  How long before the Europeans have this available via vending machine at the railway station?

And look at what can be done with potatoes:

Anybody could cook well balanced, varied, fresh, nutritious, 5+aDay meals at home with this sort of prepacked produce available at the local supermarket – no excuses.

Thing is, I don’t see this in New Zealand supermarkets.  And I have spent quite some time since taking these photos wondering why I don’t see it.

Is our fresh produce industry not capable of producing this type of pre-prepared, value added packaged product?  We have some very innovative people in our industry, so surely the answer is no.

Is there not the demand for it?  Well, there are some “soup mix” prepacks of prepared and chopped vegetables in NZ supermarkets, so that’s a start.  And with all these chef-led supermarket adverts on the TV these days, how hard would it be to create a market?  Remember Alison Gofton’s Food in a Minute series causing a run on Watties’ frozen pompom potatoes?

Is there not the scale of market to make this possible?  How much does Europe’s much bigger population base make this type of prepack operation feasible, sustainable and worth investing the capital, versus doing it here for only 4 million people?  Would we be only talking about the one or so million urban dwellers here in Auckland?

Questions, questions, questions.

And here’s another one for you thinking fresh produce people out there:

Just exactly when is the NZ fresh produce industry going to be taking up this type of product development?

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