First up, Stephen Rannekliev, Director of Food and Agribusiness at Rabobank, offered a high-level look at the macro-trends Rabobank sees impacting the industry in the future, as well as the disrupters they foresee having the most impact. (See his presentation here.)
Next, Louisa Burwood-Taylor, Editor of Agfunder News, examined the impact of technology on the industry, highlighting some of the fascinating new tech currently being developed and piloted. (See her presentation here.)
Then Amy Braun, Senior Sustainability Manager for Kellogg Company, offered a look at how her organization is approaching the disruptions and challenges the industry is facing, highlighting specific initiatives that have found success. (See her presentation here.)
And finally Tensie Whelan, Director of the Center for Sustainable Business at NYU Stern School of Business, discussed how future business leaders are being prepared to deal with these issues, and more. (See her presentation here.)
But how do organizations embrace change and innovation rather than being left behind?
Experts agree that the forces with the greatest potential impact on the food and beverage industry are changing consumer and stakeholder behaviors and with these come increased business risk throughout the value chain. Organizations today must operate under greatly increased consumer expectations and radical transparency - customers demand information, but also require organizations to meet their expectations regarding ethical, social, and environmental standards, as well as their nutritional preferences.
Companies must not only provide visibility into these issues, which directly impact buyer purchasing decisions, but must also be walking the walk. In a post-greenwashing world, authenticity is key, but not always easy. However, brands with purpose who are able to successfully communicate that purpose to their consumers are proving the victors in an increasingly competitive market.
Organizations are also facing more and different risks than they have in the past, escalating EHS&S costs, and the reality that corporate responsibility has become an integral part to creating business resiliency and strength of brand , whether they like it or not. For more mature organizations, this manifests as more integrated and decentralized EHS management—like quality before it, sustainability is becoming the norm that companies must address in order to remain competitive. It must become a core elemental consideration of management systems at all levels. This change also requires having a sustainability strategy that is coherent and measurable, but, more importantly, that can be clearly communicated both internally and externally.
The future is coming, whether we like it or not, but along with the changes and challenges it brings are a wealth of opportunities and advantages available to those who with the foresight and courage to act.