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June 11, 2015

A Blast from the Past

from WG&S December 1999

What Does the Future Hold?

(Editor’s Note: As 1999 and the 20th Century were coming to a close, WG&S asked several industry leaders to look down the road and predict the future.  This is an abridged version of that article that appeared in the December 1999 edition of WG&S)


WG&S: What is the future of production agriculture in California and Arizona in the 21st Century?  Will most crops survive or only the most profitable?  Where do you see fruits and vegetables coming from 10, 20, 50 years from now?  How will marketing and retailing change?  Will the Internet play a role?


Stephen Barnard, Mission Produce Inc.

“California agriculture will focus on high value crops.  Land, water and regulations are too tight to deal with low-value commodities that can be grown anywhere.  Fruits and vegetables will continue to be imported at a higher rate.  California will survive, but it will only be a portion of the pie, not the whole pie…

“The grower/shipper will provide a complete service that will include delivery, inventory control, pricing etc.  The difference in the next 25 years will be contracted pricing at retail, guaranteed profit to the retailer – (i.e. so much return on a specified space in the store.)  This direction will be positive for the proactive with opportunistic attitudes, and a final chapter for those resisting change.  This will all be done via the Internet.  Sales people can leave their personalities at home.”


Robert L. Meyer, Meyer Tomatoes LLC

“More greenhouse and glasshouse production will occur in California and Arizona with more emphasis on intensive farming techniques costing more per acre and less per package.  Vegetable production will come from central Mexico, the United States and part of Canada.  Greenhouse production will expand faster than organic production because of increased yields and quality making greenhouse product less expensive per unit produced.  Greenhouse production will also extend farming into the high desert.”


Gary Pasquinelli, Pasquinelli Produce

“Eventually there will be 100 percent bulk mechanized harvesting of vegetables.  Most crops will survive as we can compete with anybody in the world.  Perishables will continue to be produced from the traditional areas where they are now produced…

“More and more produce will be sold under contract.  Contract periods will extend six months to 12 months into the future.”


Sig Christierson, Major Farms Inc.

“The traditional areas will survive with changes, but there will be more competition from more places as crops are adapted through technology to other growing areas worldwide.”


John Powell Jr., Peter Rabbit Farms

“California and Arizona will continue to dominate.  The Internet will play a role.  More produce will be sold direct; there will be fewer brokers/middlemen, larger shippers and larger retailers.”


A.G. Kawamura, Orange County Produce LLC

“The demand for fruits and vegetables will increase with increased consumption driven by nutritional advances… Pressure for higher production at competitive production costs will force many to look at new greenhouse/factory production methods, displacement of major crop areas with intensive row crop production methods, and relocation to less expensive production areas….

“There will be many parallel systems of marketing and retailing.  Greenhousing will allow chain stores to enter into investment partnerships with producers.  “Local Grown” driven marketing plans will expand.  Internet technology will also continue to expand into wholesale and retail direct marketing, on both large and small scales.  The Internet will be the tool that re-introduces ‘agriculture’ back to the consumer.”