The 2018 Irish Farmers Journal/KPMG Agribusiness global survey examines the global agriculture sector in terms of innovation, technological disruption and how this results in changing consumer trends.
Agriculture has been one of the last sectors to experience significant disruption from new technologies. However, the agtech movement is now maturing rapidly with investors funnelling more and more cash into new startups looking to disrupt traditional agriculture.
Globally, innovation was seen as the most important factor in driving future business growth. Forty-one per cent of respondents say innovation is the most important factor driving the future growth of their business. This is up from 22% in 2016 and 21% in 2015. However, 40% of respondents cite innovation as the most significant challenge facing their businesses in the coming years – up from 24% in 2016 and 20% in 2015.
With regards to R&D, 95% of respondents say it is important to their business. This is up from 78% in 2016 and 82% in 2015. Sixty-three per cent of respondents say it is very important to their business. This is up from 34% last year and compares with 42% in 2015.
In 2017, companies identified their ability to innovate as the second most important competitive advantage after reputation and brand. Over the last three years, respondents have increasingly identified the ability to innovate as a key competitive advantage. It has moved from fourth position to second, overtaking scale and integration, which have fallen to sixth and seventh position, respectively.
The dominant mega-trend in global agriculture for the foreseeable future will be sustainability; the need to produce enough food for a rapidly growing world population over the next half century and beyond, at the same time as reducing environmental impacts from pesticide use and protecting water quality. That is possibly the greatest single challenge facing the world at present: how to feed a population set to grow from 7.6bn today to 8.6bn by 2030, 10bn by 2050, and 11bn by 2100. Agritech will play a key role in meeting that challenge.