Perspectives on the Ag industry – Part I:  How Consumers are driving change in the industry

Perspectives on the Ag industry – Part I: How Consumers are driving change in the industry

 

This article is part of a series by Rajendra Ketkar, Mandala's Sector Specialist and Principal Consultant at RDK Global Consulting LLC , as he shares his perspectiveand insights on the Ag Industry – namely how Consumers and Technology are driving change in the industry. 

 

 

Executive Summary:


The Ag and Food industries are changing rapidly as consumer demands and technology innovation drive change. The next 20 years promise to be an exciting time as we see a whole new range of foods and technology in the marketplace.

The last 60 years was mostly about productivity and efficiency in producing food – the focus was on yields. Technology was dominated by improved breeding, mostly for yield, and chemicals for increasing fertility and pest management. It was the green revolution from the 60’s to the 90’s followed by the gene revolution (GMO’s) in crops; again, largely to increase productivity and lower cost of production.

However, over the last 5-10 years we have seen significant changes as consumers demand healthier, more nutritious foods. Concurrently, a plethora of new technologies have emerged for growing food with improved quality.

This change is not a passing fad; all evidence shows it is real and we are on the cusp of significant change. Over the next 20 years these technologies will mature and offer opportunities for investment in a myriad of new companies and career growth for professionals in the field.

 

Historical Perspective:

 

The last 50+ years have been pivotal in dramatically increasing US and world food production – be it cereal grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy or meat. From a technology standpoint, much can be attributed to the green revolution in the 60’s and 70’s – the use of improved genetics, chemical inputs and advancements in mechanization and irrigation.

The period 1996 thru 2016 saw a dramatic change in the ag input industry. Bioengineered crops were first introduced in the mid 90’s and within a few years farmers in the US, Brazil, India and other countries adopted the technology in major crops like corn, soy, and cotton. Several countries are planting GM crops or importing produce from countries producing GM crops. Currently, approximately 450M acres of GM crops are planted around the world each year.

This demonstrated to farmers around the world the power of technology to dramatically increase yields and manage pests (weeds and insects). During the same period, huge advances in breeding technology including molecular and marker assisted breeding fundamentally changed how plant breeders develop new crop varieties and hybrids. Coupled with transgenic technology the period from the mid-nineties to the mid twenty-teens saw the fastest adaptation of these technologies by farmers.

By the middle of the prior decade (~2015) it became apparent that transgenic technology appeared to have peaked as novel trait introductions became less frequent. New products introductions were limited to newer versions of the existing agronomic traits and stacking of multiple traits.

Additionally, opposition to GMO’s impacted regulatory processes and slowed approvals in many parts of the world. Lower commodity prices have caused farmers to not invest in higher priced seeds.

Bioengineered seeds have been most successful in weed and insect management. Abiotic stress management traits have had limited success (drought tolerance). Resistance has developed to Bt traits in corn and cotton leading to increased use of pesticide use after many years of reductions in pesticide use. Similarly, development of glyphosate (Roundup) resistance weeds has also resulted in increased pesticide use after many years of reductions.

The world of ag and food is changing rapidly. Today; the consumer is driving the change and the entire industry is responding to the consumer.

 

Changes in Consumer Demands:

 

Consumer demands are changing rapidly. We want more naturally produced food, organically grown and non-GMO. There is more local sourcing or “farm to table” as opposed to food transported overt long supply chains.

Consumers are also demanding more nutritious (or functional) foods – higher protein, less processed, less sugar, more fiber, less carbs etc. Consumers are also demanding better quality – improved taste, color texture. Sustainable production and more plant-based foods are also a consumer demand.

Transparency in food is also a major concern. People want to know more about what they are eating and what is in their foods.

All of these changes are driving changes on how farmers are producing food. They are growing more organic crops, and more specialty crops which will give them a higher income as commodity process continue to be low.

Supply chains are also responding by developing improved ways of identity preservation – keeping the specialty crop separate from the commodity crop all thru the storage, handling and transportation.

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Recap on Food Future Funds Symposium 2019

Recap on Food Future Funds Symposium 2019

Bringing together thought leaders across the food value chain and the global investment community

 

In coordination with Singapore’s Rethink Agri-Food Innovation Week, Mandala Capital organized the first Food, Future, Funds Symposium with support from Temasek, NUS Business School, and the Singapore Economic Development Board.

Over 60 thought leaders across the food value chain and key members of the global investment community were exclusively invited to participate in this event. What ensued was a fruitful afternoon full of intriguing ideas and new collaborations fostered between industry players, all with the aim of accelerating growth opportunities within the Agri industry in India and Southeast Asia.

Keynote speakers and panelists ranging from prominent companies such as Lazada, Thai Union, Arcadia Biosciences, Jain Irrigation to emerging startups like Shiok Meats, InnovaFeeds, Sustenir Agriculture took the stage to share insights and challenges, a unique perspective on the entire food value chain from seed to shelf. The afternoon saw a broad range of topics covered, including traditional farming, Ag tech, and the latest news in online/offline retail.

Participants were encouraged to make connections during the coffee break and drinks session and ask further questions.

“Coming from Europe, it is very precious for us to get the opportunity to meet such a great variety of players of our industries at once. The challenges are huge, and the companies from our part of the world need partners like Mandala and its networks to grow their presence in Asia.” – David DA, Unigrains, Director

Mandala Capital hopes that all participants found the Symposium insightful and valuable. In keeping with our commitment to continually bring together an alliance of diverse thought leaders in the food value chain, we look forward to hosting future symposiums and events that foster networking. Sign up for our newsletter below to keep up to date with the latest news.

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Happy Diwali from Mandala Capital

Happy Diwali from Mandala Capital

Dear Partners,

Mandala Capital wishes you a Happy Diwali. Wishing that Diwali brings prosperity to your business and more opportunities to work together.

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Happy Independence Day from Mandala Capital

Happy Independence Day from Mandala Capital

Dear Partners,

Mandala Capital wishes you a Happy Independence Day. Thank you for your support all these years and for many years to come.

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EFRAC launches Asia’s first NABL accredited CO2 Laboratory

EFRAC launches Asia’s first NABL accredited CO2 Laboratory

Mandala Capital's portfolio company EFRAC recently launched Asia’s first NABL accredited CO2 Laboratory. Increased testing, inspection and certification ensures higher quality and safety of products for consumers.

Learn more about the Gas Division and the NABL accredited gas testing lab (ISO 17025:2017). 

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