GAP Report: Consumer trends transform agriculture |

GAP Report: Consumer trends transform agriculture

Consumer trends are the big story in agriculture this year, according to the 2018 Global Agricultural Productivity Report: Agriculture for a Healthy Sustainable World, to be released by the Global Harvest Initiative, a coalition of major agribusiness companies, today on the sidelines of the World Food Prize events in Des Moines.

According to the report, today’s consumers expect much more from their agriculture and food systems than in previous generations. Through their purchases, consumers express their preferences and values and help shape decisions producers and retailers make.

In most households around the world, women are the “chief purchasing officer” and have enormous influence over the food system, the report says.

“Recognizing and supporting them with innovation, investment, partnerships and smart policies will be essential to achieve a hunger-free, healthy and sustainable world,” according to the report.

For the fifth straight year, global agricultural productivity growth is not accelerating fast enough to sustainably feed the world in 2050, the report says.

The report says the definition of productivity in agriculture has been expanded beyond producing more or achieving higher yields to include the best use of natural resources, lowers costs for farmers, reductions in loss and waste in the value chain, and supplies food and agriculture products for consumers at lower prices.

According to the GAP Report, global agricultural productivity must increase by 1.75 percent annually to meet the demands of nearly 10 billion people in 2050. GHI’s annual assessment of global productivity growth – the GAP Index – shows the current rate of growth is only 1.51 percent.

The rate of agricultural productivity growth for low-income countries is particularly troubling, reaching only 0.96 percent annually – a downward trend from 1.31 percent in 2016 and 1.24 percent in 2017, the report says.

“Innovation and productivity are essential to keeping pace with the quantity and quality of food that consumers are demanding. We all have a role to play in creating a healthier, more sustainable world. The power of robust public research and strong public policy are often overlooked,” said Doyle Karr, biotechnology public policy director of Corteva Agriscience, the agriculture division of DowDuPont, and chair of the GHI board of directors.

“The value that society places on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and better stewardship of soil, water and wildlife is leading to consumer demand for climate-friendly production methods and supply chains,” said Margaret Zeigler, executive director of GHI. “The GAP Report provides a number of case studies that illustrate how consumer demand, coupled with innovations developed in the public and private sectors, can shape and improve the food and agriculture system of the 21st century.”

GHI presented the 2018 GAP Report findings before an audience of farmers and youth involved in agriculture, and global leaders in science, research, policy and private industry attending the World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa.

In a panel discussion in Des Moines, Zeigler will be joined by Julie Kenney, Iowa Agriculture deputy secretary and a farmer; Keith Fuglie, an economist at the USDA Economic Research Service; Mercy Lung’aho, nutrition lead for Africa, CIAT (International Center for Tropical Agriculture); Kiran Sharma, principal scientist and CEO of the Agribusiness Platform, ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics); and Aaron Wetzel, vice president, Ag & Turf Global Platform, Crop Care, for the Agriculture and Turf Division of John Deere.

Improved food production relies heavily on public agricultural research and development and extension systems as well as regulatory frameworks that incentivize risk-taking innovation and investment. The GAP Report highlights the critical investments needed in public policies such as research, improving trade, embracing science and information-technologies and public-private partnerships.

GHI’s membership includes Corteva Agriscience, the Agriculture Division of DowDuPont, John Deere, Monsanto Company (acquired by Bayer AG), The Mosaic Company and Smithfield Foods. GHI is joined by consultative partner organizations from the conservation, university and multilateral development bank sectors.

The event will be shown at noon ET today at