Updated February 21, 2009
Social and Cultural Environment
- National initiatives to combat obesity and other human health problems will lead to increased demand for and consumption of fruits and vegetables by U.S. consumers.
- The “baby-boom” generation is increasingly interested in consuming foods that are nutrient and nutraceutically dense and this interest will result in increased demand for berry crops.
- Consumers will demand higher quality berries at lower cost.
- Consumers will increasingly demand year-around access to berry crops, which might open U.S. markets to foreign supplies.
- Consumers will demand that products they consume be produced in a way that does not endanger the environment.
- Consumers will continue to demonstrate strong interest in minimizing chemical crop protectant use in food crop production
- Trends towards healthful convenience foods and slow food/gourmet food are potential opportunities for the berry crop industries.
- Consumers will continue to be concerned with food safety issues.
- The definition of specialty crops, as found in The Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2005, will drive federal policy regarding berry crops.
- Based on the 2004 Census of Agriculture, which showed that Specialty Crops had a slightly greater farm gate value that grain and oilseed crops (corn, soybean, wheat, barley, etc.), there is an opportunity to gain balance for specialty crops in farm bill legislation.
- The new USDA Food Pyramid, released in 2005, provides an opportunity to promote berry crop consumption.
- Some segments of the berry crop industries will continue to be affected by federal immigration and guest worker policy.
- Regulation of production and environmental issues will contribute to the further consolidation of farming.
- Agricultural water users and urban/suburban communities will likely seek legal recourse to address water pollution concerns.
- Agriculture will forge alliances with groups outside the industry to improve the environment.
- Government funding to support human health and nutrition research will increase.
Economic and Business Factors
- Foreign production of berry crops has the potential to negatively impact the berry crop industries.
- To be sustainable, a processing industry for berry crops is needed.
- Significant increases in sales from year to year will require strategic relationships within the berry crop industries.
- The cost of land in urbanizing areas will force berry crop producers into growing regions with less than ideal climatic conditions.
- Increasing labor costs will impact the industries.
- Increasing energy costs will impact the industries.
- Direct marketing and the development of value-added products will continue to increase in importance, especially for smaller producers and producers near urban areas.
Science and Technology
- New technologies will continue to increase productivity.
- For the potential increase in productivity to be realized and sustainable, Extension and technology transfer are essential.
- Information will be delivered through the internet and other electronic formats.
- The largest challenges facing the industry today have solutions in research and Extension.
- New technologies will be expensive but must be cost effective.
- Consumers will be more sensitive to environmental stewardship that reduces the use of synthetic chemicals.
- New insects, diseases and weeds will continue to interfere with efficient berry crop production.
- New limitations will be placed on the tools currently available for pest and nutrient management.
- Increased competition from foreign imports will require U.S. producers to be more efficient for the industry to remain sustainable.
- There will be increasing competition for resources, such as land, water, energy and capital, with the non-agricultural sector.