Below is a summary of major trends in the global and local agro-food system:

  • Consumers have increased power with regard to what they will buy, where they will buy it, and what they will pay for it. Globally and locally there has been a shift away from starch-based diets to an animal-protein based diet. In addition, consumer activism around labelling, food safety, nutritious food, where and how socially and environmentally responsibly it was produced are all key considerations today.
  • In an inherently open, market-based global agro-food system, albeit often skewed by subsidies, tariff and non-tariff measures, the second major trend is the development of globally competitive value chains. Efficiency up and down the value chain, together with scale of economy benefits and aggregation models, allow most of South African value chains to be globally competitive. Improved demand-side management will be a key challenge to ensure competitiveness and global market access.
  • Precision farming, conservation agriculture, biological farming, climate-smart farming, vertical and urban agriculture, have all become approaches to produce more with less, and enhance our resources and their sustainable use in the process.
  • The 4th Industrial Revolution is already in full swing as the fifth major trend, and the agro-food system is benefitting substantially from biotechnology, informatics, robotics, drone technology, digital information systems (for example for traceability), etc.

Given food safety risks and the significant increase in non-communicable diseases (NCD’s), such as diabetes and obesity, increased regulation is another trend developing in the agro-food system of South Africa. New legislation, such as the proposed Sugary Beverages Tax Bill, proposed genetically modified labelling, will all up the compliance pressure, making it increasingly difficult for the smaller player in the value chain to survive. –