The Packer’s National Editor Tom Karst on Nov. 9 chatted with Jeff Simmons, president of Greenfield, Ind.-based Elanco, a global agribusiness company focused primarily on the livestock industry. Read the entire chat on the Fresh Talk blog.
12:30 p.m. Tom Karst: You are giving a speech today titled “Making Safe, Affordable, and Abundant Food a Global Reality” at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters here in Kansas City. What’s the premise of the talk?
12:31 p.m. Jeff Simmons: Last week was a pretty good milestone to wake us up to the fact the seventh billion child was born. That really reiterates three numbers I continue to emphasize, which are 50, 100 and 70.
By 2050 we need 100% more food. You can’t really debate that. Those are United Nations numbers. The third number is what people don’t talk about, and that’s an important one. If there is doubling of food, more than 70% is going to come from technology because we really have to freeze the carbon footprint. We only have 1% more land, that’s a fact.
There is less water and more regulation. It is going to come down to doing more with less.
12:38 p.m. Karst: You talk about the interest in organic, local food as being a small slice of the total. Do you feel like percentage of “lifestyle” consumers is growing and if it is growing, what implications does it have for agriculture?
12:39 p.m. Simmons: Globally, organic is 1.3% of global food purchases. Here in the United States, more affluent, it may be closer to 3%. They are predicting in 2014 that (globally) it will grow from 1.3% to 1.4%. In the U.S., it was forecast to grow from 3% to 4%.
It may be a category leader, it may be something that draws people in the stores, but as a whole we need to be extremely careful that we don’t react in building global food chains, or more importantly, food policy around a very niche, gourmet, luxury sector.
12:46 p.m. Karst: Agriculture is kind of a generic term. You’ve got a lot of different elements to it. You’ve got livestock, grains, specialty crops. Is everybody in the same playbook in terms of what you are talking about? Do you think agriculture is pretty united in this perspective on food and technology? What more needs to be done in that regard?
12:47 p.m. Simmons: As a whole it is. I think that we may have different approaches and opinions, but as a whole I believe the global food chain is a lot further (ahead) than we were two years ago in understanding these facts. I believe the global recession has put a little bit more logic into the system to allow us to say we better be careful we don’t take immediate action on a minority luxury group.