The Changing Face of American Agriculture: Part 1



Explore cutting-edge trends in farming in this three-part series. First up—meet your new customer.

The Changing Face of American Agriculture

The Changing Face of American Agriculture

Agriculture tends to resist change a little more than other sectors of the nation’s economy. However, nothing, not even agriculture, can remain static forever.

Today, many feel that the future of agriculture is starting to look brighter than it has for decades, though not without challenges. What is prompting this change in outlook? Allow us to share some answers.

Meet Your Customer

Commercial producers are starting to acknowledge the increasing public demand for improved food safety, quality, and transparency. Clear labeling is one of the top demands of our day, as is minimal processing. “Real food” is a real movement in our society. Customers are increasingly buying fresh, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and meats on their trips to the store.

Also popular is the concept of a flexitarian diet, sometimes described as part-time vegetarianism. Vegan and vegetarian diets maintain a strong and growing following, but they do not share the popularity of flexitarian eating. Flexitarians are experimenting with using yellow peas as a major source of protein, and they are definitely excited about eating more vegetables with every meal. Sampling ancient grains, particularly quinoa, is also popular among flexitarians.

In keeping with consumer concerns about environmental issues and food safety, the organic market continues its growth, according to the last USDA census. The demand still frequently outstrips the supply.

However, millennial customers continue to voice skepticism about the certification process and its reliability. Keywords the new generation of shoppers tend to seek include local and grass-fed. Responding to the new demands of customers, retailers large and small are actively purchasing and promoting local foods.

But this does not mean that the millennial shopper is looking for the bare basics. According to surveys, a sizable portion of the generation claims that food should be fun, and it should unquestionably taste good. Mealtime is an experience—the bolder the better. Hence the willingness of millennials to experiment. Anything ethnic? Exciting. Artisan bread? Trendy. Powerful chili peppers of rare or unique varieties? Hot.

However, surveys suggest that millennials also appreciate value and convenience. They are not afraid to grab a packaged breakfast when they’re on the go, and price has a lot to do with making purchasing decisions.

Shoppers of all types are increasingly looking beyond the traditional supermarket to fill their pantries, often mixing and matching sources to get the best deal. Smaller retail chains, particularly those of the dollar-store variety, are experiencing a boom. Online grocery shopping is also increasing in popularity.

Part 2: Agripreneurship and Nature’s Way

Helpful Resource

USDA Releases Final 2012 Census Results
Statistics that display some of the trends in agriculture.