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A glance forward: Looking into the global agricultural and food sector in 2022

The way we produce, process, cook and eat food is transforming in the aftermath of the global pandemic. Climate change, plant-based food, food security, new technologies and an increased interest in health are some tendencies that also appear to apply in 2022. Consumers now demand food and beverage products that provide solutions to their problems – from the personal to the planetary.

In this glance into 2022, we have gathered the trends and tendencies that we see becoming driving for development within the agriculture and food sector- not just this year but going forward.

Enabling food security with traceability

The agriculture and food industry has long been working on establishing traceability systems from farm to fork. Following the pandemic, we see that these traceability efforts are gaining momentum.

Consumers are expecting an increasing responsibility among the agriculture and food companies in relation to the origin of the goods they produce, distribute and sell. Businesses can benefit from establishing end-to-end transparency of their supply chain that will make them more resilient to change – a critical capability in light of the pandemic. They can also improve public health and reduce food waste. (BCG, 2021). Among business professionals, there are also high expectations for the transparency of food production. According to Euromonitor’s Voice of the Industry: Digital Survey, 60% of professionals expect supply chain traceability to have the most impact on their business.

Data sharing and technologies such as blockchain are useful tools, but not a definitive solution to the traceability challenges. To achieve an effective traceability system, depends on the willingness of the industry to contribute and participate in it.

Increasing focus on climate responsibility at companies

A BCG survey from 2020 found that people during the pandemic were becoming more concerned about environmental challenges and that they were increasingly committed to changing their own behavior to advance sustainability. 70% of the survey participants said that after the pandemic they were more aware of how human activities affect the climate and that degradation of the environment, in turn, threatens humans.

87% of respondents further said that companies should take environmental considerations into account in their products, services and operations to a greater extent than they have done in the past. This is aligned with the results of Food Nations Insight Report from 2020, showing that 58% of the respondents mention that companies overall are the main ones responsible for driving the sustainable development of food and agriculture.

The market for alternative proteins and plant-based products continues to grow

In 2020, 574 million metric tons’ worth of meat, seafood, dairy, and eggs were eaten corresponding to almost 75 kilograms per person. The number of animal-based proteins consumed is still increasing, especially in developing markets. However, the increasing concerns about the environment, animal welfare and health are rising even faster. Therefore, alternative proteins have gained ground in the market in recent years from being a niche product to a mainstream product category. (BCG, 2021)

A study by BCG and Blue Horizon Corporation shows that by 2035 every tenth portion of meat, eggs, dairy, and seafood eaten around the globe will be made from alternative proteins.

The plant-based foods market could make up to 7.7% of the global protein market by 2030, with a value of over $162 billion, up from $29.4 billion in 2020, according to a new report by Bloomberg Intelligence (BI).

The plant-based market continues to increase in popularity and as more different types of plant-based foods and beverages emerge, consumers also become more selective about which products they are willing to buy. For many consumers, health is a key consideration when making plant-based purchases and generally, consumers have higher demands on the standard of the food product, including nutritional value, salt content, additives and quality of the protein (Visual Capitalist).

The rise of the digital consumer

New technological solutions that make consumers’ everyday lives easier have gained ground in recent years but will become disruptive in the coming decades. During the pandemic, new ways of selling products and solutions were found virtually, and in the coming years, we see a tendency for the consumer-packaged-goods (CPG) industry to increasingly optimise their sales via online channels, as the share of sales that take place via online channels seems to reach a tipping point.

Fresh food is e.g. one of the rapidly developing e-commerce sectors in China. In 2020, the gross merchandise volume of fresh food e-commerce amounted to approximately 364.1 billion yuan, increasing from about 255 billion yuan in the previous year. Revenue from the e-commerce food and beverage industry in the United States also set a record-high at 18.7 billion U.S dollars in the United States in 2020. And in Great Britain, 29% of British adults bought groceries online in 2019 (Statista: China, Great Britain, United States).

The Danish agricultural and food cluster is constantly working to create new solutions and innovate products to meet the consumer demands of the future. Read more about how you can contribute from our knowledge, experience and solutions here.