As the sun sets on 2020, two juxtaposed themes to note:
- This once-in-a-generation massively disruptive & wildly uncertain thing began crashing down on us in March and one of the first things consumers did was fill their freezers with meat, as evidenced by empty retail meat cases in the spring or by the fact that custom processing plants across the country are booked solid through the end of 2021. I’m convinced nothing reveals our values more than peak anxiety purchasing habits.
- In the first seven months of 2020, nearly $1.5 billion was invested into plant and cell based meat alternative startups.
What does these 2 seemingly unrelated things tell us? That livestock & poultry producers have an end product that is in demand, that is important, even necessary. And yet, investors and innovators are betting that won’t be the case forever. This juxtaposition should give industry leaders an innovate-and-improve urgency that far surpasses that of the burn-it-down crowd.
This also leads me to believe more than ever in The Impossible Foods play the meat industry should run.
With that, here are the 5 most popular Prime Future topics in 2020:
What a company says about their future is mildly interesting, the tell is in who they hire. And the largest meat company in the world just hired an automation tech project manager as their next CEO. Which can only mean 1 thing: Tyson is betting the farm on its future as a tech company. (read the link above for more analysis on how this could shape up)
Retailers are moving upstream. Who and what comes next? Amazon (Whole Foods) acquiring Bell & Evans? Kroger building their own pork plant? Whole Foods and <cattle genetics co of choice> teaming up to expand the Country Natural beef supply chain? Albertson’s buying a feedyard? This upstream expansion plays out amid the simultaneous trend of retailers expanding their footprint closer to the customer through grocery delivery and digital offerings.
The primary attribute of coordinated supply chains is incentive alignment from first player to final player; coordinated supply chains are strategic, long term, and oriented to increase value for all players by focusing on the deliverable to the end customer. Coordinated supply chains are asset light, data capture heavy. So, when does a coordinated supply chain make sense?
In an industry accustomed to FDA regulated products brought to market with impeccable rigor by pharma co’s, most microbiome products have been viewed by producers as foo-food dust….rightfully so. Truly, its been the wild west out there with microbiome products. This has damaged the category’s brand with livestock & poultry producers while raising the skepticism hurdle for future products.
And yet, I’m optimistic the category’s wild west era will soon end. Why?
This “no one downstream from the farmer cares about the genetics source” is s a story that plays out similarly across all segments of ag. Genetics sources have historically been a behind the scenes layer in food production, completely removed from downstream value chain players and the consumer’s sphere of interest or concern.
But, that may be changing in meat & poultry…
The announcement of Telus Agriculture marks Animal AgTech 2.0 for two reasons:
- This is a non-traditional entrant moving into the ag industry in a big way via the tech door.
- This approach is an example of rolling single point solutions into a platform to drive broader outcomes for customers than the individual value of any single offering.
In the journey to market maturity, it’s time for the Livestock Tech market to converge into more platform based approaches. Why?
I’m so glad you’ve joined the Prime Future journey. Your comments, questions & counterpoints are the best part.
Happy New Year,