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22 January 2020

Just 20 years into the 21st Century, we have already seen remarkable changes that we could never have anticipated. We’ve come up with 20 predictions that explore what the next 20 years may have in store for your organisation.

Prediction 14

There will be an agricultural revolution as new technologies transform the way we produce food and the way we consume it. This will be triggered by factors such as the increasing world population, threats to global food security, the growing influence of health considerations on food choices and the demand for environmentally-friendly and sustainable food production.

Within the next 20 years, agriculture will have fully embraced IoT to better understand supply and demand, and to increase productivity while reducing waste. Robotic farmers will be standard farm tools, vastly increasing efficiency and eliminating time-consuming, dangerous and repetitive tasks from farmers’ day-to-day activities, allowing them to focus on more value-additive work.

Farmers and food processing workers will regularly utilise wearable augmented reality glasses to enable them to repair and service high-tech equipment with the support of specialists.

There will be a significant increase in alternatives to traditional animal proteins with increasing consumer demand for ethical and sustainable alternatives. Transparency within food supply chains will evolve as consumers and regulators seek greater confidence in the safety, efficacy and nutritional content of the products they consume.

Gene editing will have vastly increased the variety in and durability of crops by enhancing their immunity to diseases and making them drought tolerant. There will be an increase in vertical and subterranean farms.

Meanwhile, for traditional farms, a combination of agricultural drones, AI and edge computing will provide the data and outputs to make accurate and localised weather forecasts enabling smarter farming decisions and helping farmers navigate climate change, volatile weather conditions and new business models.

Farmers will trade more data than produce. High-skilled robotics and AI jobs will grow in regions. The agriculture industry will have experienced the most significant digital transformation of all industries over this time.

Trends in food production and consumption

Impact

This revolution will have profound effects throughout the value chain. Retailers and producers will need to be willing to understand and explore opportunities that new technologies provide. But they will also need to stay abreast of changing consumer preferences – their food preferences, but also issues such as their environmental expectations and ethical values.

The working environment of farms is also set to change with societal and ethical impacts to be considered accordingly. For example, autonomous workers threaten the job security of workers. Some farmers may feel that relying heavily on AI and data analytics will sever their connection to the land.

Curious to find out what else could happen between now and 2040? Read our other predictions

KPMG does not make any statement in this article as to whether any forecasts or projections included in this article will be achieved, or whether the assumptions and data underlying any prospective economic forecasts or projections are accurate, complete or reasonable. KPMG does not warrant or guarantee the achievement of any such forecasts or projections. Any economic projections or forecasts in this report rely on economic inputs that are subject to unavoidable statistical variation. They also rely on economic parameters that are subject to unavoidable statistical variation. While all care has been taken to account for statistical variation, care should be taken whenever considering or using this information. There will usually be differences between forecast or projected and actual results, because events and circumstances frequently do not occur as expected or predicted, and those differences may be material. Any estimates or projections will only take into account information available to KPMG up to the date of this report and so findings may be affected by new information. Events may have occurred since this article was prepared, which may impact on it and its findings.

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