New farming systems are improving quality and sustainability, leading to renewed consumer interest in food sources.
Consumers are Invested in Farming of Foods and Ingredients
Survey respondents across 11 global markets either agree or strongly agree that they care a lot more about the sourcing of the ingredients in their foods than they did a year ago. Additionally, they prefer products that mention how they or their ingredients were farmed or grown, along with the benefits of their sourcing or farming. Better for the planet, health risk reduction, and natural are among the benefits consumers globally rated as most attractive. However, one in 10 consumers is either unaware of sustainable, innovative farming and food production practices or is highly skeptical of the benefits.
Cost and Trust are Main Hurdles
Two major stumbling blocks are concerns about the comparatively high costs involved and a lack of trust in farming innovations. The cost hurdle is likely to get bigger as the cost-of-living crisis, and inflation take their toll on household food budgets. Interestingly, the very issues that innovative farming techniques are meant to fix, such as declining biodiversity, waste, pollution, and soil degradation, are among the issues consumers fear may be exacerbated by new farming practices. This fear emphasizes the need for clear communication regarding the specific benefits of the technique(s).
Two-thirds of consumers say they feel more involved in a brand’s sustainability journey when it opens up about its challenges. Communicating failures and shortcomings makes a brand relatable, which engenders trust.
High Tech Helps Support Outdoor Farming
Consumers who were asked what actions companies and brands ought to take to help environmental causes named “protecting nature” as their top priority. Regenerative farming techniques address this by promoting biodiversity and conserving soil fertility, but the increasingly erratic weather patterns brought on by climate change are demanding even more innovative solutions. This increase is driving deep-tech advancements, often with the involvement of AI, that help farmers assess their crops in real-time and implement novel adaptive strategies. Additionally, selective breeding to achieve more drought-resistant crops and artificial pollination methods show great promise.
Indoor Innovation Offers Solutions
In the face of climate change and the mounting incidence of extreme weather events, indoor farming under controlled conditions can play an important role in food security. Technological advances better conserve resources like water and implement more sustainable approaches to disease management. Rising energy prices, however, pose a growing threat to the commercial viability of indoor farming businesses and impact new product development.
Indoor Farming Goes Local
Vertical farming and aquaponics operations are able to move much closer to their customers in order to satisfy demand for local production. Facilities in shopping centers and residential neighborhoods can supply local food service outlets, supermarkets, and consumers directly. They also leverage qualities that appeal to consumers, such as water and land conservation, freedom from pesticides, freshness, and nutrition.
Protein From New Sources
The race is on to ramp up protein production without degrading the environment while keeping animal suffering to a minimum and maintaining affordability. Expect a broader range of plant protein sources, along with animal proteins harvested from genetically modified plants, lab-grown muscle tissue, and auxiliary ingredients such as cultured animal fats to improve taste and texture.
Consumers report caring about protecting nature, improving waste management, reducing carbon footprint, and raising health and nutrition standards. Brands may want to adapt and invest in their supply chain to support regenerative agricultural practices that can address these issues and may want to communicate benefits clearly to consumers. Clear and concise communication of the benefits of new farming and cultivation techniques can become a competitive advantage. Brands also need to be more open about the problems and shortcomings of these novel approaches.
Companies dedicated to vertical farming, aquaponics, and bioreactor cell culture will have to innovate to reduce their electricity bills to stay afloat. Energy efficiency and the switch to renewable energies are core tenets of the environmental sustainability ethic, and affordability is high on the list of priorities.
This article is based on our report, “Top 10 Trends 2023: Trends #5 – Farming The Future – How Global Food Production is Adapting to Climate Change.”
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