In February this year, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) released an insightful report addressing key mega trends, defined as trajectories of change that have “profound implications across many areas of industry and society” (Hatfield-Dodds, Hajkowicz & Eady, 2021).
The report highlights 6 key mega trends in particular that are set to impact food and fibre production (Hatfield-Dodds, et al., 2021). Each mega trend is complex, far reaching and positioned to generate huge disruption and impact on agricultural ecosystems and market dynamics at local, national and global levels (Hatfield-Dodds, et al., 2021).
Tracking these changes via market research and farmer engagement will be crucial for benchmarking insights and understanding the evolution of food and fibre production.
Here’s a summary of the key megatrends and how they will impact the way we research agriculture.
- Growth juggernaut
This mega trend relates to empowered consumers, addressing growth in emerging economies that is creating increases in food and fibre demand (Hatfield-Dodds, et al., 2021). This trend addresses changes in consumer behaviour and expectations regarding food provenance and quality (Hatfield-Dodds, et al., 2021).
- Fractal politics
“Deep shifts” in relation to politics, culture and the economy are set to impact the agricultural industry, namely international relations related to trade, sovereignty and trust (Hatfield-Dodds, et al., 2021). This trend is a reminder of Australian agriculture’s exposure to export markets and political dynamics, impacting supply, demand and prices (Hatfield-Dodds, et al., 2021).
- More from less
The need for innovation and productivity gains is pushing Australian agriculture to its limits in terms of sustainability, efficiency, competitiveness and profitability. There are large benefits to be gained through improvements in these areas driven by technological innovations and improvements in use of key resources such as water, soil and land and labour (Hatfield-Dodds, et al., 2021). The pressure placed on regional communities and rural industries will need to be monitored and managed. Farm consolidation and changing management practices are key microtrends generating tension and change within this broader megatrend.
- Cascading planetary risks
The impact of climate change and increasing pressure on Earth’s key ecological systems is unrelenting, rapid and unavoidable. Australian agriculture is all too familiar with the volatility and uncertainty generated by “planetary risks” (Hatfield-Dodds, et al., 2021). This impacts agricultural landscapes and business models, generating both welcomed and forced changes regarding sustainable food and fibre production. The transformative potential of emerging carbon markets and “ecosystem services” is also addressed within this broader megatrend (Hatfield-Dodds, et al., 2021). This trend brings the importance of natural capital and ecological assets to the fore.
- Disruptive technologies
Advances in key technologies, including automation, genetics and synthetics are poised to revolutionise agricultural systems across the globe (Hatfield-Dodds, et al., 2021).
Interconnected production systems and supply chains are key themes within this megatrend, with emphasis on information exchange, connectivity, customer engagement and data (Hatfield-Dodds, et al., 2021).
- Positioning for the future
Finally, the ability of Australia to pass on a well adapted, sustainable and thriving agricultural system to later generations is addressed. This includes both the economic and environmental health of the Australian agricultural industry. The interactions of business, government and communities are crucial in maintaining the health of this industry (Hatfield-Dodds, et al., 2021).
Looking to research a specific megatrend or micro trend within Australian agriculture?
At KG2, we have the largest database of Australian farmers and have been conducting market research within Australia’s agricultural industry for over 25 years.
Hatfield-Dodds, S, Hajkowicz, S, and Eady S 2021 Stocktake of megatrends shaping Australian agriculture: 2021 update, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resources Economics and Sciences, Canberra. CC BY 4.0. https://doi.org/10.25814/w3be-an37