I’ve got a number of keynotes coming up in the New Year focused on the agricultural sector, and have done quite a few in the past.
My insight resonates with the agricultural crowd, whether farmers, ranchers, or agricultural support and bio-science companies. I recently spoke to the top 100 cattle, stockyard and feedlot operators in the US at a private event in Sonoma County, California. The US Farm Credit Cooperative has brought me in twice. Want to think about opportunity? Read the post, Agriculture 2020! Innovation, Growth & Opportunity — and also read on below.Massive growth in food demand: The UK Food and Agriculture Association estimates that the world population will increase 47%, to 8.9 billion, by 2050. That’s a potentially huge food marketplace. That fact, more than anything, spells the reality that the agricultural industry is full of potential opportunity!A continuing rampup in efficiency: Simple fact: global agriculture must double in the next 30 years to sustain this type of population growth. Add this reality check: there is little new arable land in the world. The result is that existing producers will have to continue to focus on smarter, better, more efficient growing in order to meeting demand.Hyper-science: One of the realities of the infinite idea loop in which we now find ourselves is this: while there are 19 million known chemical substances today, the number is constantly doubling every 13 years… with some 80 million by 2025, and 5 billion by 2100. Science is evolving at a furious pace, and with science at the root of agriculture, we will continue to see constant, relentless new methods of improving crop and livestock yield.Innovation defines success: Growers that focus on innovation as a core value will find success; their innovation will focus on the triple-feature need for growth, efficiency and ingestion of new science. It will be by adopting new methodologies, products, partnerships and ideas that they will learn to thrive.Retail and packaging innovation drive agricultural decisions: Do this: stare at a banana. Did you know that Chiquita banana has come up with a special membrane that doubles the shelf-life of the product, doing this regulating the flow of gases through the packaging? Take a look at Naturepops: each lollipop is wrapped in fully bio-degradable film made from plant matter, and the bags they come in are made from recycled paper, water-based ink and poly lactic acid made from cornstarch. There’s a huge amount of innovation happening with packaging companies and on the store shelf, and all of these trends have a big impact on agriculture.Intelligent packaging moves front and center: Innovation with packaging will take an even bigger leap in years to come, and will involve hyperconnectivity, a trend that will be driven by food safety, tracability, country of origin and nutrition labelling needs. Our lives are soon to be transformed by packaging that can “connect” to the global data grid that surrounds us; and its’ role will have been transformed from being that of a “container of product” to an intelligent technology that will help us with use of the product, or which will help us address safety and tracability issues.The energy opportunity: Agriculture is set to play a huge role as we wean ourselves away from our dependence on oil and natural gas. The US Department of Energy plans to see alternative fuels provide 5% of the nations energy by 2020, up from 1% today. And it is expected that there will be $1.2 billion in new income for farmers and rural landowners by getting involved with new energy sources such as windpower. Europe plans to have a market that involves at least 20% usage of bio-fuels by 2020, and Feed & Grain estimates that liquid fuels from agricultural feed could replace 25% to 30% of US petroleum imports by that time.Convenience and health take center stage: We will continue to see rapid change in consumer taste and expectations as people comes to place more emphasis or doing their best with the little time that they have. For example, it is expected that fresh-cut snacks grew from an $8.8 billion market in 2003 to $10.5 billion by 2004, according to the International Fresh-Cut Produce Association, as part of a trend in which produce and fruit continue to compete with traditional snacks. Expect such unique trends to growth both in terms of number and rapidity.Direct consumer-producer relationships blossom: As this technology evolves and as people become more concerned about the safety of what they eat, a natural result is a frenetic rate of growth in direct relationships between growers and consumers. Check out SouthDakotaCertifiedBeef– that type of thing defines the future of this trend!Generational transformation: perhaps the biggest trend is that we are about to witness a sea-change in the rate by which new ideas in the world of agriculture are accepted, as a new generation of technology-weaned, innovative younger people take over the family farm.Partnership defines success: If there is one trend I emphasize in every industry I’m involved with, it is that no one individual or organization can know everything there is to know. As I indicated in my I found the future in manure article, this trend is also becoming prevalent in agriculture. We will continue to see an increasing number of partnerships between growers and advisers, suppliers, buyers, retailers and just about everyone else, so that they learn to deal with the massive complexities that emerge from rapid change and innovation.