Six Food and Ag Trends You Need to Know
It’s easy to get down about the crash in commodity prices. Long-term, though, chin up.
“Agriculture may not seem as sexy as it was two or three years ago, but given the importance of this industry, it is as sexy today as it was back then,” says David Hollinrake, vice president of marketing and portfolio management for Bayer CropScience.
Hollinrake shared these observations at Bayer’s AgVocacy Forum held in New Orleans prior to this year’s Commodity Classic.
• With 7.2 billion on people on the planet and 900 million who go to bed hungry each night, there’s plenty of demand for food, says Hollinrake. What’s more, they will increasingly be able to pay for it over time, as increasing global wealth is prompting people to move from subsistence living to more affluent diets.
• Farmers are embracing digital agriculture, as they look at their fields on a pe-foot or per-yard basis. However, moving from precision to decision agriculture remains a challenge, as farmers strive to make sense of all this data. “There is a huge investment going on in this area,” he says.
• Plant technology is growing by leaps and bounds. “We have the ability to map a genome in a plant in minutes at a fraction of what it cost just a few years ago,” he says. This means farmers will have a continuing stream of this technology in the future.
“Agriculture may not seem as sexy as it was two or three years ago, but given the importance of this industry, it is as sexy today as it was back then.”
• Water scarcity will continue to grow. “By 2030, the water supply/demand gap will be 40%,” says Hollinrake. “That is a massive, massive challenge. Companies better be looking at ways to produce crops with less water.”
• Your new boss looks a lot different than he or she used to. Millennial uburbanites with small kids in tow as they grocery shop are now asking hard questions about how the food they buy is raised. In essence, they’re you’re new boss.
“We as an industry need to understand their needs, wants, desires, and concerns,” he says. “If we do not, we will not have this precious social license to operate. We (our products) go through a rigorous testing system, but it is not all about facts. It is also about understanding consumer opinion.” That’s why Bayer is backing a program called AgVocacy, to better connect with consumers.
• Consumers like you. “Consumers trust farmers more than anyone else in this space,” says Hollinrake. That’s why farmers make effective voices in food issues, he adds.