"You need to think harder about how the customer might want to use the product," he said. The Imperial College London professor of food marketing was speaking at the British Leafy Salads Association conference.
He added: "(Customers) need more help deciding what to buy for what kind of meal. What do they use to prepare a meal for entertaining friends as distinct from, say, feeding the kids?" He said there should be more promotion about selling the benefit of salad products and less about price cutting.
Hughes suggested a shift in future R&D spending to focus more on developing products with improved "consumer traits" such as flavour, size and shape, rather than spending on benefits for growers such as yield or pest and disease control.
He believes the salads industry should learn from trends in the fruit sector, which is developing "closed supply chains" involving breeders, grower groups and exclusive deals with individual retail companies.
"Power is polarising towards the owners of the genetics and to the retailers. If you don't own the genetics or the brand, how do you make yourself important in the supply chain?" he asked.