Consumer preferences can totter between fads and trends (think emus versus plant-based meat). For farmers to capitalize on consumer demands, they must be able to sort out what is an of the moment fad or a significant shift, says Rob Dongoski, Ernst & Young food and agriculture leader.
“This is a big challenge in agriculture, since it takes so much time to change course,” he says. “You really have to find the end market first.”
As a partner at Ernst & Young, Dongoski has over 20 years of experience serving clients in the food and agribusiness sectors. He works with a number of Fortune 500, Global 1000 and private companies in advisory and transaction capacities.
Dongoski will speak at the 2023 Top Producer Summit, which runs Jan. 23-25 in Nashville. Register now.
Listen to Rob Dongoski discuss food trends with AgriTalk’s Chip Flory:
In helping clients develop growth strategies, complete buy-side and sell-side transactions and lead significant enterprise transformations, Dongoski has his pulse on some key trends. Here are three he believes farmers should monitor.
- Consumers want fresh and uncomplicated food. Overall, Dongoski says, consumers are starting to shift to diets with more fresh food and foods with limited ingredients. “These are things at the perimeter of the grocery store,” he says.
- Food miles are becoming mainstream. Local has been thrown around frequently in the last decade in terms of consumer trends. Dongoski says it is now mainstream. “Consumers are tracking food miles, as in how far does it take for strawberry to get to my grocery store? You know, 1,800 miles doesn’t sound very local,” he says.
- Younger generations are willing to pay more for food. Baby boomers and Generation X have different views on food than their younger counterparts, Dongoski says. While older generations are not willing to pay more for organic or regenerately grown food, Generation Z and Millennials are willing to do so.
How Farms Can Cash in On Trends
Dongoski says farms of all sizes can capitalize on their trends, but in different ways. Large farms have the ability to scale and work with large companies, while small farms can specialize and find niche markets.
The other big trend shaping the future of farming is the technology used to do it.
“There’s going to be folks who will continue to play a big role in the dirt and there’s going to be farmers who are going to play big roles probably under glass,” he says. “We’ve reached a point where greenhouses, vertical farms and aquaponics play a potential role in our in our food system.”
In either system, Dongoski says data will be key.
Learn more from Dongoski about the future of farming, consumer trends and more at the 2023 Top Producer Summit. Register now!