The BioAg Alliance
“Earlier this week, the economic value of agricultural biologicals was on prominent display as the agricultural giant Monsanto teamed up with the international microbial expertise of Novozymes to create an initiative called The BioAg Alliance. The arrangement calls for the technologies of both companies to converge in a joint R&D pipeline that will ‘transform research and commercialization of sustainable microbial products that will provide a new platform of solutions for growers around the world.’ While Monsanto has some microbiology capabilities and will maintain its own discovery programs, Novozymes has a laser-sharp focus on microbial fermentation technologies for all manner of consumer products such as the enzymes used in detergents, foods and beverages, biopharmaceuticals, and biofuel production. In the alliance, Novozymes will provide Monsanto with the scale-up and production of microbial products inherent to their leadership in fermentation technologies. Monsanto will leverage its vast field-testing capabilities and be responsible for the registration and commercialization of resulting products. These ‘beyond-the-seed’ technologies are intended to provide additional environmental protection for crops and maximize nutrient utilization, increasing fertilizer efficiency.”—Excerpt from a recent Forbes article·
American Seed Trade Association president and CEO Andrew W. LaVigne released the following statement on the recent announcement by the U.S. attorney general about individuals charged with conspiring to steal seed and trade secrets of several U.S.-based seed manufacturing companies:
“The American Seed Trade Association is deeply concerned by the action that has led to the arrest of individuals conspiring to steal and export seed products, seed technology and trade secrets developed by U.S. agriculture companies. ASTA has long supported innovation in the U.S. seed and agriculture industry, and the protection of intellectual property rights for these inventions and their inventors.
“We are extremely pleased to see that the matter at hand is being taken seriously by the U.S. government. The swift action sends the message that no matter the nationality, either domestic or international, this practice is unacceptable.
“With a population that is expected to reach over nine billion people in the next several decades, the agriculture sector and its customers will continue to rely upon plant breeding, research and product development to meet the growing world demands for food, feed, fuel and fiber.”
More Soybeans on Horizon
David Murphy, LG Seeds resource manager in central Illinois, is predicting a continued trend toward more soybean acres in 2014. “Overall, looking at how we’re going to manage our acres next year, I’ve seen a slight switch away from corn more to 50-50 rotation and I saw a large switch last year. There will be [a] smaller switch this year of moving corn acres to soybeans, I think, primarily due to commodity prices,” he says. “The soybeans have had strong prices this fall. As guys are making their plans for next spring, that’s one of the key factors that they’re looking at in the profitability.”
What Motivates Shoppers Today?
According to a report by AMG Strategic Advisors, which examined generational differences on shopper behavior, the wide variety of ages, life stages by age and unique generational viewpoints in the marketplace is unprecedented. “Engaging the various generations effectively while not alienating other generations will require retailers and manufacturers to have highly-tailored messages that appeal to each target generation’s distinctive values and preferences,” says the report.
Millennials (51 million): Identify the key categories that will influence trips and engage these shoppers through digital, social and shopper marketing. This is a highly multicultural generation that is moving into heavier spending years. They are social, technology dependent, environmentally-conscious and heavy users of natural/organic foods and baby products. Retailers and manufacturers have the opportunity to be the curators for new mothers who are seeking education and networking opportunities. This generation is highly dependent on peer recommendations and is willing to switch brand loyalty if a brand can offer a better value proposition—not meaning lower price, but a better set of benefits at a given price. They invest the time to understand benefit claims and reward design and unique benefits. Creating touch points with the millennial shopper physically and virtually to effectively communicate a product or brand’s value proposition, especially non-price related benefits, is critical to success with this generation.
Gen X (60 million): This generation is the largest spender on groceries but is stretched and seeking value. They are more likely to do “stock-up” trips. It is especially important to capture these shoppers during the pre-shopping part of their path to purchase, as a lost trip will mean the loss of a larger basket than their younger counterparts. This generation is often raising young children on dual incomes. They are time starved. Solutions that save Gen X shoppers time, products for busy mothers and loyalty-building programs are essential for long-term success.
Baby Boomers (81 million): This economically relevant generation is starting to downsize. They are becoming empty nesters but still have a large disposable income. Success means focusing on health and wellness solutions and smaller package sizes. This generation is technology capable, but not dependent on technology, so traditional marketing is more relevant than with younger generations. Pet food and pet care are key categories that are highly relevant to this generation. In fact, Baby Boomer households have more pets than kids at home.
Silent (39 million): The Silent Generation is mostly retired. Key categories relevant to this generation are largely health and wellness-related categories. This generation is helped with larger labels and signs, better lighting, lower shelves and magnifiers at the shelf. It is particularly important to be able to explain the product’s value proposition at the point-of-sale to this aging generation.
Wheat by the Numbers
According to Syngenta, wheat breeding is a numbers game. The new varieties introduced each year all start somewhere, and that’s as one of thousands of potential wheat lines often more than a decade earlier. Syngenta has developed an infographic that illustrates the typical path taken by new winter wheat varieties en route to commercial release.
Supply and Demand
According to a recent International Grains Council five-year forecast, world total grains output is expected to decline slightly in 2014/15, from the record level forecast for the current season, but then to rise by an average of 1.6 percent per acre over the remainder of the five-year period, exceeding two billion tons by 2016/17. “While some area expansion is anticipated, particularly in the major exporters such as the CIS and Brazil, the increase is largely driven by improving productivity. Firm demand growth is also expected and, while the absolute level of stocks is likely to rise, the ratio of stocks to use is projected to fall slightly to 18 percent by the end of the 2018/19 season, from 20 percent forecast for 2013/14. The projections indicate a marked increase in trade volumes over the five years, as increased demand is met by production growth in the key exporters, most notably in South America and the Black Sea region,” says the report.