Written by: Victoria Broehm | May 11, 2021
Last week, a few of our staff, myself included, participated in the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s annual Stakeholders Summit, held virtually this year. The theme, “Obstacles to Opportunities,” couldn’t be more fitting as speakers discussed how the world has changed due to the coronavirus pandemic and provided myriad examples of the ways that U.S. agriculture continues to adapt to meet the needs of consumers and evolve to address future global sustainability and nutrition challenges.
Below are a few of our takeaways:
“We’re all trailblazers right now.” Companies within the agriculture industry should start thinking of themselves like start-ups – looking for new opportunities to grow and expand in a post-COVID world, investing time in learning how to reach their customers and not short-changing their time or value.
“We all have to work to educate on innovation” because the same tactics activists use to pit their philosophies against animal agriculture (or vice versa) has the potential to instill fear and distrust in food systems. We are already seeing rising levels of vaccine hesitancy across the country due to distrust in science, but these same sentiments could foster to feelings toward other scientific advances, including those used in agriculture, if we are not careful.
“Agriculture is the solution, not the problem, in our road to net zero.” As our understanding of the role that agriculture plays in national and global emissions and new technologies take root, companies are doing more to improve their sustainability footprints and share those stories with their customers.
The pandemic has changed consumers’ behaviors and feelings around food – “there is a generation of people who really want to cook now.” We will continue to see modern consumers want convenience, quality and transparency in the products they are purchasing for their families, so as an industry, we must look to improve our product delivery and storytelling.
Consumers are looking for “balance” on their plates – this means that they are not moving away from meat being at the center of their plates, but rather, looking to diversify their meals. The industry should expect to see continued growth for plant-based alternatives and embrace it.
For the first time, animal rights activity in the U.S. surpassed that of Europe last year, due in part to COVID lockdowns that prevented more activity in Europe. Speakers encouraged the industry not to be angry about this uptick in activity, some of which has spurred misinformation about animal ag’s role in the pandemic online, but rather, “be an advocate” for the industry. Otherwise, “if we don’t tell our story, then others who do not know our story, will.”
The American Feed Industry Association is a proud sponsor of this event. For more information, visit the Alliance’s website.