Unpacking global megatrends

23 May 2018

Among the factors impacting consumer behaviours, attitudes and demand for beef globally are a number of megatrends, which MLA’s Lisa Sharp, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, highlighted for attendees at MLA’s Fork to Farm seminar at Beef Australia 2018.

Read more about each megatrend below or listen to an interview with Lisa recorded at Beef Australia 2018 about megatrends and what they mean for the red meat and livestock industry.

Five global megatrends

More from less: The earth has limited supplies of natural minerals, energy, water and food resources essential for human survival and for maintaining lifestyles. At the same time, population growth and economic growth are placing upward pressure on demand. Consumers are concerned about the human impact on environment, and these concerns are often closely linked to farming practices.

Within our industry, areas where this trend likely to impact (both positively and negatively) include:

  • efficiency in on-farm management
  • sustainable practices
  • yield from livestock (leveraging everything that the animal produces, including manure)
  • overall shift to eating efficiency all the way through to minimising plate waste.

We need to promote red meat’s inherent natural qualities and promote our approach to sustainable practices.

Great expectations: This reflects the rising demand for experiences over products. Technology, particularly smartphones, is fuelling this trend, enabling consumers to do their own research and understand more about products and companies that supply them.

Consumers have an expectation now that companies are responsible and honest, because it’s easy for them to expose those that are engaging in dishonest practices. The Australian red meat industry needs to continue to be aware of the desire for transparency, the importance of traceability and promote those aspects of the industry.

The Silk Highway: In coming decades, the world economy will shift from west to east, and north to south, with a rapid income growth in Asia and to a lesser extent, South America and Africa. Billions of people will transition out of poverty and into the middle-income classes. The powerhouses of the new world economy will be China and India.

There’s a strong correlation between income growth and protein consumption. Economic shift will build new export markets, new trade relationships, business models and cultural ties for Australia.

Forever young: Australia and many other countries that are part of the G7 or OECD have ageing populations. In Australia, nearly 20% of our population is forecast to be over 65 years by 2025. Health-related expenditure will overtake spending on restaurants and hotels by 2020. Restaurants and hotels remain a premium outlet for Australian beef.

Our major export markets are on a similar path, including Korea, Japan, and China. We need to continue to link beef’s branding with health and explore value-added opportunities to cater for the needs of ageing consumers.

Fear, uncertainty and doubt: This trend started with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in the United States, followed by the Global Financial Crisis, and other major world events such as Brexit, which have shaken consumer confidence in the west.

Research shows when there is a feeling of instability, consumers look at things they can control, such as their every day choices, and food is an everyday choice.

Country of origin is among the key pieces of information consumers look at on food labels. MLA’s global consumer tracker has revealed that country of origin is important to many consumers, because it’s a reminder of quality, food safety and integrity.

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