Interview: Robert Nugan, CEO of Fresh Produce Group

Can you briefly explain what your company does and how you involved with the food industry?

“My company is involved in supply chain management, the business of getting the produce from the grower to the retailer.”


What was it that initially drew you to the fresh produce industry?

“I grew up in this business. I grew up on farms and in packing sheds and in a family that was in produce from the second generation. My grandfather was in it so I just loved doing what my family did.”



How do you see the food industry evolving in the next few years?

“I think that fresh fruit and vegetable is central to everyones wellbeing and awareness of the value of fruit and veg in society has never been higher. We look forward to increased consumer demand for our products. Our job is to find new products or better products that satisfy the customer and to give the consumers more enjoyment in what they eat everyday.”


What do you think are the most significant drivers of this change?

“From Australia, its been driven by a rising middle class in Asia which is a huge population that driving its demand from Australia. But basically, the cost of produce has never really gone up in 50 years. So, its all about innovation. it’s about how you produce more for less and make produce a value item for consumers. Innovation is large now, there are a lot of businesses that are involved now in developing new varieties that are cheaper and easier to grow and taste better.”


Would you call that designer produce?

“Designer food, definitely. Colour, shapes, sizes, seedless – it’s all groovy stuff that makes everyone go look at that and look at this. There are plenty of new grapes that are differently shapes and new colours so I think it’s exciting.”



How do you see this affecting the food industry in the long term, say 30 years down the track?

“Right now, fruit and vegetables is all about convinience. So easy dealer, easy to eat. It’s all about how convenient it can be so a lot of thought is going into processing and packing. In 50 years, I don’t know – it’s hard for me to predict that far ahead. Certainly, the fruit industry is always changing really quickly.”


Do you think there will be a point when food will have to go up in price to keep up with the demands of a growing population?

“No, investment will follow it very quickly. For fresh fruit to compete against FMCG its never about price. If you picked up a snickers bar and worked out how much it is per kilo, it’s like $45 a kilo. So if you compare that to any produce that is 5, 6, 7 – even the expensive produce is $10 per kilo so it’s no about the price to grow consumption. Its just about getting more produce from farms to the stores quicker. If it comes down to it, it will be about developing greater supply or minimising on exportation.”



Do you think there will be a growth in health conscious behaviour that will result in a push towards fresh produce and away from processes foods?

“Its been a battle for a long time and we’re not moving the curve very much. It’s been very consistent. I don’t see that thats going to change very quickly unless there was a huge change in the mindset of the masses.”


How do you think the way we eat & interact with each other at meal time will change?

“The advent of tv shows like master chief has been a real revolution in returning people to the kitchen, driving people to cook and being excited about using fresh ingredients. So thats quite a revolution right now which has given us good growth in our sector. So what will drive the future consumer? Will that continue? One would think that will continue. History shows you that people don’t typically move very far when it comes to their habits with food. They have fads but they generally go back to fairly similar habits that have been traditional for that country.”



Image References;

Fresh Produce Group. 2014, Grow with Us, Fresh Produce Group, viewed 27 September 2016, <;.


2 thoughts on “Interview: Robert Nugan, CEO of Fresh Produce Group

  1. Robert Nugans perspective of people going back to similar habits to what their used to gives me another perspective I didn’t think about before. I think its great to think about the media like he mentioned with master chef, and how they perceive the food industry as hip and popular compared to in the past where it used to be a house wives job.


  2. The prediction that the population will continue to grow significantly brings into question the production of fresh produce and the available land on which to do this. Perhaps new and innovative solutions will start to pop up, much like the already existing “vertical garden”. It will be interesting to see how jobs like Robert’s will evolve in the coming years, to use innovation to come up with effective design solutions.


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