Demographic and lifestyle changes, a competitive global retail sector, food commodity prices in decline internationally and a changing climate are just some of the factors facing the grains industry and agriculture in general.
He said while there were many pressures on the grains industry due to global consumer trends, it’s not all bad news, with sales of plant-based protein going through the roof!
“Protein-rich pulses such as lentils, peas and beans are increasingly in demand by consumers,” he said.
“We’re not all turning into vegetarians, but women in particular are electing to have more plant-based meals and snacks than previously.
“Why? The deadly dull nut roast and soyburger is dead and, now, we can buy really tasty, colourful, convenient vegetable and pulse-based foods which are consonant with healthy lifestyles.”
Prof Hughes is speaking on these topics at various events in New Zealand, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, South Korea, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Spain as well as his Australian commitments, explaining that food consumption trends are happening on a global scale.
“For example the three meals-a-day family eating format is breaking down, and mini-meals and snacking is surging worldwide, which in turn has seen growth in meal solutions at the expense of traditional ingredients,” he said.
“There is a ferociously competitive global retail sector, where the big players are desperate to stem market share losses and return to sales growth. There is a distinct polarisation between the discount and premium ends of the retail spectrum.
“And of course, we have environmentalists clamouring for new agricultural and food production models to respond to a burgeoning global population, which is upgrading its diet to more premium meat proteins.”
Professor Hughes believes in developed markets, per capita meat consumption has peaked.
“2017 is going to be a raucous ride, and while this level of change presents huge challenges it also provides excellent opportunities for those willing to jump on board.”
GRDC Manager Grower Services – North Sharon O’Keeffe said Dr Hughes presentation will bring some insightful and slightly challenging concepts to the GRDC Updates.
“Our industry can be very focused on yields, and what drives those yields, but obviously it’s incredibly important to also understand our markets,” she said.
“Updates provide us all with a unique opportunity to challenge our thinking, as well as understand the latest research and ideas to solve some of our most pressing challenges to profitability and performance.
“We do like to think of updates as a three-way conversation between growers, advisors and researchers, and the GRDC relishes the opportunity they provide to listen to industry and ensure our research work is relevant, practical and well-targeted.”
GRDC Update topics around the NSW and Qld include presentations on agronomic drivers of yield, weed and pest management and herbicide resistance updates, and whether digital ag is living up to the hype.
NSW Updates will be held at Wagga Wagga on February 14-15, Corowa on February 16, Gulargambone on February 27, Dubbo on February 28 and March 1 and Coolamon on March 16.
Event details are available on the GRDC website via this link.
For more information or to register for the Gulargambone and Dubbo events, contact John Cameron or Erica McKay, ICAN, on 02 9482 4930, e-mail email@example.com or visit the webiste via this link.
For more information or to register for the Wagga Wagga and Corowa Updates, contact contacting ORM on 03 5441 6176, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website via this link.