The importance of produce at the retail level in the United States has been recently confirmed by the FreshTrack 2001 study: Supply Chain Management in the Produce Industry. Imports of fresh fruits and vegetables to the United States have been on the rise as they play an important role in satisfying a growing U.S. consumption trend. This exploratory research project attempted to identify the current status of imported produce at the retail level, to characterize the business practices of U.S. retailers, U.S. importers and foreign exporters in relation to marketing imported produce and, finally, to explore the opportunities and challenges faced by these three key supply chain participants in marketing imported produce in the United States. Research was conducted through the review of relevant trade and academic literature and the collection of primary information through surveys sent to 34 U.S. retailers (of which 13 valid responses were collected) and through surveys administered in person to nine U.S. importers and nine foreign exporters. Results of these surveys confirm the increasing importance of imported fruits and vegetables at the retail level in the United States, point to the increasing role of U.S. grower/ shippers as providers of imported produce in the United States and indicate that key issues currently faced by retailers in marketing imported produce are not necessarily the same issues being addressed by either U.S. importers or foreign exporters. Further and more in-depth research on the topics explored in this project is necessary in order to derive recommendations that will help retailers and importers in the United States and exporters in foreign countries achieve greater success in marketing imported produce in the U.S. market.


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