Podcast: “It’s a fork to farm story”

Can the food industry keep up with consumers?

Who’s really driving the future of food? Product developers? The hottest new chef? Tech-savvy farmers? Or is it each of us, every time we decide what to eat next? Nick Fereday has the outlook on consumer trends. But can the industry keep up?

Listen to this episode of Food Forward here (30 min).

“We often talk about things like ‘farm to fork,’” says Nick Fereday. “We need to flip that and make it a fork to farm story.” As Executive Director of Food and Consumer Trends at Rabobank, Fereday knows a thing or two about the way consumer behaviors can echo throughout the food chain. “When the consumer makes its mind up about something, it can have profound implications, all the way back to the farmer.”

“There’s a reason why companies spend billions of dollars to try to persuade the consumer,” he admits. But a wise business must also expect the unexpected, and learn to respond. Fereday’s annual “We didn’t see that coming” report asks 200 industry players what surprised them most in the previous year. Yesterday’s surprises can be today’s opportunities – if companies can keep up with the pace of change.

In this conversation Fereday talks about the revelations from this year’s survey and how big companies can find a way forward amidst accelerated change. He touches on labelling, sustainability trends and whether consumers really want what they say they want. And, oh yeah, there are some cannabis insights in there too. Listen for more.

From the podcast

On the scope of change: “It isn’t just that consumers have gone from preferring strawberry ice cream to vanilla ice cream.”

On industry perspectives: “If you’re a maker of canned soup, it’s hard not to see the future solution as canned soup.”

On what the industry doesn’t always understand: “Consumers’ interest in the gluten free trend has nothing to do with the price of wheat.”

On flexitarianism: “People are not giving up on meat – most people in North America would describe themselves as meat eaters. But it’s a halfway house.”

On having the answers: “Knowing when a fad will become a trend is the million dollar question.”

On environmental concerns: “It becomes an opportunity for companies to differentiate themselves and make a stand.”

On the rise of cannabis-as-ingredient: “Not long ago, people could spend years in jail for some of these products, and now people want to put it into their food and beverages.”

F&A Next

At F&A Next 2019, May 15-16, Nick Fereday will moderate a panel on the growing importance of “Direct to Consumer.” This premier F&A innovation event in the Netherlands connects innovative food and agriculture start-ups with investors. Register today!

Food Forward is a new Rabobank podcast featuring the innovators and agriculture experts who are changing the way we produce and consume food. Listen and subscribe on iTunes, RaboCasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.