May 13, 2021  |  Expertise

The future of farming: Emerging agricultural trends, Part 1

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Sustainability + Regenerative Agriculture

Sustainability has been a growing consumer demand over the past several years, and we see this reflected in increasingly sustainable business models, corporate pledges and eco-friendly products. According to a recent study in Forbes (2020), 60% of consumers buy products and services from companies that are socially and or environmentally responsible and 54% of consumers try to purchase products or services from brands that take a stand on social or environmental issues.

Many businesses are incorporating more sustainable practices in their attempt to meet these consumer demands and do their part to mitigate the mounting climate change issues that face us. The agricultural sector is no exception. In fact, businesses in this industry have no shortage of conservational areas of impact they can focus on, given their high impact on the environment – everything from renewable energy, waste management, water use, packaging, and carbon footprint (Forbes, 2020).

Sustainable packaging in particular has grown dramatically in this space – after all, it is the tangible, most consumer-facing evidence of environmental responsibility. Many startups and established businesses in the agricultural sector are looking for new, innovative ways to pack fruits and vegetables – specifically, methods that don’t involve plastic. Biodegradable packaging is front of mind – the Italian innovation startup IUV, for instance, has developed an edible-biodegradable film that can be used to pack food and keep it safe (Pixofarm, 2020). Reusable packaging is also gaining traction in this sector, with companies such as Cellugy and Arekapak using biocellulose and natural materials to produce packaging that is both resistant and reusable. Similarly, Packtin uses a circular approach, making packaging materials from industrial and agricultural waste.

Another important aspect of sustainable agricultural practices involves eco-friendly plant growth products, rather than the use of synthetic fertilizers which pollutes soil, waterways and the air. Analysts at Pixofarm (2020) found that one of the most interesting trends in the agriculture sector is the reduction of chemicals for growing plants and the research used to find alternatives to commonly used chemical products. One fascinating example of this is Ficosterra’s transformation of algae into fertilizers and biostimulants which, they claim, promote the maximum development of crops. This Spain-based marine biotechnology company produces biofertilizers and biostimulants, made 100% animal-free and can be used for ecological and conventional agriculture alike. Another innovative example comes from the company NitroTerra, which creates custom microbial biofertilizers from soil analysis data.

Consumers are also pushing organizations to adopt regenerative agriculture, a farming practice that encourages soil health and fertility by increasing the sequestration of soil carbon, which many believe helps to reverse climate change (Trimble, 2021). It is a growing trend in this sector and many organizations are trying to implement. According to Forbes (2020), “a growing number of companies are investing in regenerative agriculture. General Mills has committed to farm 1 million acres of land according to regenerative agriculture by 2030. Some of the organic product companies that have already committed to regenerative agriculture include Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, Alter Eco, and Navitas Organics.”

With consumers growing increasingly concerned about sustainability and climate change, the future of farming will be highly sensitive to the green matters that move them. Keep an eye out for these emerging macrotrends in the agriculture sector – and if you want to learn more about evolving consumer behaviors around sustainability, natural health and beauty, or the brands that move them, be sure to reach out to Ideabar for all of your research and strategy needs.