What are some of the issues food agribusiness researchers and executives are talking about right now?

To address this question, I had a chance to participate in the recent World Food and Agribusiness Congress, an annual event held by the International Food and Agribusiness Management Organization.

In June 2015 it was held in the beautiful twin cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, in the state of Minnesota, USA. Normally it gathers a crowd of 400 people from at least 25 countries, to discuss the big issues facing agriculture in several round tables and plenary sessions. Definitely an event to join and China had a chance to hold the meeting of 2012 in Shanghai. Next year it will be in Arhus, Denmark (more information in www.ifama.org).  

After 4 days full of discussions, here I share my perceptions of the big issues and in the following articles I will dive deeper into these issues.

1 – Food markets continue to grow and consumption patterns are changing fast, impacting global trade. Not just Asian countries, but also the relevance of African and Middle East countries is growing fast.

2 – The export and import of food and agribusiness shows an increasing relevance of the USA in global food trade.

3 – The so-called “Farm to Markets” or direct selling channels from farmers to consumers (“Direct to Consumer – DTC”) are growing and represent an important opportunity for value creation for farmers as individuals or farmer organizations.

4 – Food that is produced locally (“Local Foods”) is gaining value with consumers and represents an opportunity for differentiation, using origins, labels, stamps and identification at retailers.  

5 – The issue of putting together all the volume of data, the big data revolution into relevant information for farmers will represent an ocean of investments and opportunities in food production chains.

6 – The new agriculture pattern will require so-called “smart farming”, applying several technologies in order to produce more food with less resources and leaving maximum possible profits for farmers because of greater efficiency.

7 – Merging of some markets (food, pharmacy, cosmetics, medicine) is requiring a convergence of food industries and an increasing need of innovation to continue competing in the market place, enhancing concentration toward big food companies.

8 – The gaps are increasing among good and medium companies, individuals, economies and strategies that will try to include, and smallholder participation in food chains will receive much more attention from consumers and media.

9 – The growing food business will require a lot of talents (people) and this resource will become more challenging for companies in the food chains.

These are the topics and I will dive deeper into these issues in the next few articles.

The author is professor of strategic planning and food chains at the School of Economics and Business, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil (www.favaneves.org) and international speaker. Author of “The Future of Food Business” and other 50 books published in 8 countries and in China, “The World on the Tongue”.