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Mar 11, 2009 by Lee Hart

Staying ahead of the elephant

The Canadian agriculture industry, from producers through to
processors and food retailers, needs to be operating at least one step ahead of
consumers, says an expert on North American consumer trends.

Phil Lempert, also known as the Supermarket Guru, speaking
to the Canola Council of Canada in Toronto this week, says the agriculture and
food industry has to anticipate consumer needs and provide the type of products
and services consumers will be demanding over the next five, 15, or 30 years.

While he was talking to canola producers, marketers and
processors the message applied to all those involved in primary agriculture
through to the food retailer level.

While more details of his talk will be carried in an
upcoming issue Grainews, here are a few of his key points.

  • Healthy
    food products will become even more important to Baby Boomer consumers
  • Major
    grocery chain stores will get considerable smaller (about 10,000 square
    feet vs. 60,000 or 70,000 square feet)
  • Personal
    electronic devices such as cell phones and other scanners, will make it
    possible for consumers to scan bar codes on products, and learn about
    production practices, compare product prices between stores, and where
    applicable even be able to see a photo of the farmer who produced the
    particular product.
  • Consumers
    will be more interested in bargains.
  • More
    will shop with coupons
  • An
    aging population will be more conscious of spending and eat out less and
    eat home more.  Fast food
    restaurants will likely be relatively secure, but mid-price range restaurants
    will be at risk.

Looking ahead to trends in 2050, Lempert says the world will
need twice the food, but it will be produced on half the land base, and both
air and water will be considerably dirtier. It will important for agriculture
to dramatically reduce its environmental footprint. The industry will also need
to respond to climate change.

And he says all farmers will have to make money from
farming. The economy cannot be such that producers will have to say they sold
land for urban development just to survive.

  

Lee Hart

Lee Hart


Lee Hart is a long-time farm writer, and honorary member of the Alberta Institute of Agrologists, with many observations on the agriculture industry, who never hesitates to admit he is wrong (should that ever happen.)


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