As experts in food and agriculture, our days are spent with headlines, strategies and ideas to make communicating to consumers more meaningful, while gaining their trust. As we embark on December, it’s always fun to reflect on some of the major themes of the past year. We’ve outlined what we consider the top 10 trends of food and agriculture in 2019.
While carnivorous consumers are alive and well, 2019 saw the rise of plant-based proteins. Many quick-service restaurants took the opportunity to capitalize on the curiosity by partnering with companies to bring the product to a large audience.
Consumers are calling on food companies and manufacturers to use eco-friendly packaging in a quest to become more sustainable. A lot of innovative technology is happening in the packaging space. Will it be scalable and adopted by consumers? Or will it be viewed as an attempt to put a band-aid on the issue of consumer waste?
Precision ag, disruptive technology, ag tech – whatever it is called, it is growing opportunities for the next generation of tech-friendly farmers. This sector is becoming more competitive, innovative, fast-growing and necessary to the increasing demands on food production.
Climate change was a huge topic of 2019, with much of the conversation amplified by the “Green New Deal.” While agriculture’s carbon emissions do not top the charts (transportation does), more consumers and legislators want reduced emissions from farmers in the forms of environmental inputs and cow burps (a specific mention and hotly contested point on Twitter). How will ag answer that call?
As we see the growth of technology in agriculture there is also a type of consumer that will seek out products with a more natural approach. Regenerative ag focuses on increasing the biodiversity of crops, produce and animals to improve soil and environmental quality of the land. The evolution of farming in America has pushed a more specialized approach to produce more food with fewer resources. While regenerative agriculture has its appeals, will it be able to keep up with the growing food demand?
Headlines about tariffs and trade deals were a constant in 2019. Plant and animal commodity organizations prioritize trade discussions daily with their members’ best interests in mind. For now, this is a black cloud hanging over the agriculture industry due to its ongoing and long-term impacts.
From arthritis creams to fancy coffees, CBD oil is being infused into nearly everything. While there seems to be overwhelming acceptance, it will be interesting to see if a concern about long-term effects grows among consumers and if the regulatory agencies will implement defined uses and dosages.
Difficult Farm Economy
The weather played a role in the already difficult farm economy. With floods covering the farmlands in early spring, planting crops was delayed (if possible at all) and keeping animals dry and healthy was a challenge. After a six-year slump in farm income, farmers hold out hope for prosperous trade deals, better market prices for their commodities and a future for their farming family.
This year saw a few undercover investigations on the farms of large-scale animal producers. While it appears the incidents were appropriately handled, animal care improvements are still a priority in the eyes of consumers and producers alike. Celebrity diets that include reduced meat consumption or veganism also drive this conversation.
Instant pots, meal delivery services, grocery pick-up - people want easy without sacrificing taste or nutrition. Subscription services across all industries continue to saturate the competitor market, but the meal delivery systems allow parents to reduce time in the grocery store and still provide an entire meal for their family at home. Consumers want it all, and in this case, they’re getting it and they’re loving it, and so are the retailers. Curbside pickup stands to become a $35 billion market by the end of 2020.
Nearly every trend listed is consumer driven. Consumer demands are not going anywhere anytime soon. Has your organization considered the consumer in your strategic planning sessions? You should. The team at Look East has fielded many calls in 2019 for strategy, communication training and verification systems that provide a bridge between the food system and consumers. If you need help getting traction with the right stakeholder, we can help. We grow trust.