Egg Industry News and Commentary

  —  Apr 19

Connolly Comments on the Future of Agriculture



Aiden J. Connolly, Vice-President of Corporate Accounts and Chief Innovation Officer at Alltech Inc., was the guest speaker at the 33rd Annual Clyde W. Eby Memorial Lecture organized by the Prestage Department of Poultry Science, North Carolina State University on April 10th.

Connolly noted the imperative to plan to feed a World population approaching 10 billion by 2050. He is optimistic that this goal can be reached if World agriculture can attain a 1.6 percent compounded growth in output.


Aiden Connolly

Connolly pointed out that most of the demand will occur in developing nations with China predominating, as the emerging middle class demands more animal protein. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, poultry represented 50 percent of World consumption of animal protein, pork 29 percent and beef 15 percent in 2014.

Turning to industrialized nations and specifically the U.S., Connolly observed that 47% of women are now in the workforce; the population comprises 25 percent Millennials; and 27 percent of our population live in single-family households. Internet communication is an important social reality with 89 percent of U.S. citizens having Internet access, 77 percent with smart phones and 1.8 billion people worldwide subscribing to Facebook.

Combining demographics and social trends, Connolly advanced the principle of the “prosumer.” This category is represented by consumers seeking food brands which embrace their values, including sustainability, welfare and nutritional value. This group is intensely concerned over how food is produced and they have an active Internet presence.

The drivers of agriculture going forward will be conditioned by the acronym GLIMPSE. These comprise:

  • Government policy influencing production systems
  • Loss of food wasted through the production and consumption chain
  • Infrastructure development and investment
  • Market access which conditions world trade as influenced by bilateral and multinational agreements
  • People are responsible for innovations, and progress
  • Science will play an important role in increasing yields and evolving new products
  • Environmental issues will be increasingly more important with the advent of global warming and the need to conserve water

In reviewing the five sequential cycles of agriculture, Connolly reviewed the primitive Paleolithic Era, Antiquity, Modern Production, the most recent Green Revolution and the Digital Era which is yet to come. Precision farming will be necessary to achieve increases in productivity with the dairy industry leading among livestock using sensors, electronic monitoring of feed intake and the production from individual cows.

There will be profound changes in food distribution at the retail level. Millennials make extensive use of on-line ordering. Some observers consider that traditional supermarkets will eventually become “day-care centers for the elderly” shifting purchasing patterns based on generational demands.

Some retail food chains have observed this trend and are reconfiguring their stores as “destination and experience” locations. Wegmans and other supermarket operations have installed restaurants, specialty kiosks, wine bars and other features to attract and hold the attention and loyalty of their clientele.