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Jim spent so much time customizing the presentation for one agricultural conference that at the conclusion, one fellow came up and asked him how long he had been a farmer!

In 2011, Jim was the opening keynote speaker for a conference that featured an audience of the top 100 cattle ranchers, feedlots and stockers in the US -- and thrilled the audience with his insight into global trends impacting the agriculture sector. Some of Jim's agriculture clients include • Farm Media Journal • FMC Agriculture • Texas Cattle Feeders Association • FCC Services US (Farm Credit Cooperative) • MicroBeef Technologies • Mid-America Crop Protection Association • FarmTech • AgProgress Conference • Agricorp • CropLife Canada • US Department of Agriculture • American Agriwoman Society • Syngenta • American Landscape and Nursery Association • Monsanto •


The National Watermelon Association recently ran a blog post, with some succinct coverage of my thoughts on the future of agriculture, and the opportunities that come from innovation. It seemed like a good read, so I’ll repost it here!


watermelons-by-morguefile

“….drone technology, vertical farming practices, and robotics will play a larger role…”

I know that I’m ‘singing to the choir’ when I write that the real innovators of the 21 century are farmers. We just returned from the National Watermelon Convention in New Orleans, where over 500 members of the watermelon industry gathered to hear what is new in the industry. During a morning impact session, our growers were introduced to a variety of new innovations in agriculture, including the use of drones and precision technology, bee pollination services, and revolutionary nematode control.

Jim Carroll, a futurist and trend and innovation expert, points out that the multigenerational nature of agriculture, blending the experience of older farmers with technologically eager younger farmers, creates an opportunity for innovation and success. In his post, ’10 Big Trends in Agriculture,’ Carroll shows us how farmers are poised to meet the demands that are just around the corner. He states that the growth in the world population, an increase of over 45% by 2050, will inevitably create a huge demand for food and potential in the marketplace. Limited arable land will motivate those in agriculture to become more efficient. Perhaps drone technology, vertical farming practices, and robotics will play a larger role.

Carroll notes that new methods to improve crop yield as well as intelligent packaging are the direct result of rapidly developing chemical substances. Emerging methodologies, practices and partnerships will continue to rise as those in agriculture focus on growth, efficiency, and ingestion of new science.

Trends that encourage a focus on health and convenience have created a surge in fresh-cut produce as snack alternatives at home and in schools. Concern over food safety has inspired greater relationships between producer and consumer. Jim Carroll is convinced that, “…an increasing number of partnerships between growers and advisers, suppliers, buyers, retailers and just about everyone else,” will continue to increase in order to , “… deal with the massive complexities that emerge from rapid change and innovation.”

The most impactful trend that Mr. Carroll notices is that of generational transformation – he is convinced that the as the younger generation of farmers take over the family business a “sea-change in the rate by which new ideas in the world of agriculture are accepted,” will take place. No doubt change is already taking place.

The National Watermelon Association is preparing for this tidal wave by embracing its future farm leaders. During the convention, four Future Watermelon Farm Leaders were recognized as rising leaders who will ride the wave of transformational innovation.

Nicole Schrader

From my keynote for the global Worldskills conference in Sao Paolo, Brazil! What types of new careers are emerging around us?

From my keynote in Sao Paolo for the WorldSkills Global Competition …. how will the iOT impact skilled trades and other careers?

I was recently interviewed by the folks at the Speciality Foods Association, for my thoughts on what is happening in their sector.

How a Futurist Deciphers Trends
By Brandon Fox, January 2016

RD2008Food1.jpg

Fads have a shorter lifespan, trends have a shorter lifespan, consumers have a shorter attention span.

Author, speaker, and consultant Jim Carroll offers global trend analysis and strategies for change to companies as varied as Johnson & Johnson, the Walt Disney Corporation, and Yum! Brands. Here, he discusses why trends are more complicated than “what’s hot or what’s not,” the lightning speed of consumer influencers, and why experimentation is necessary to build shopper relationships.

WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY?

Boy, where do we start? I take a different approach—it’s not “what’s hot or what’s not,” but how are things changing and how quickly can specialty food come to market

People are influenced faster than say, five or 10 years ago—or even a year ago—and a lot of that has to do with social networks, but also with just the way new concepts and new ideas are put in front of them.

I spoke to a group of beverage executives a couple of years ago about what was happening with food and alcohol. I told them to think about “Mad Men.” All of sudden, 1960s retro drinks were all the rage. It happened quickly because people are influenced in new and different ways. It’s not, “what are the new taste sensations?” but “where are those new taste sensations coming from?”

[As for what’s emerging now,] consider how hummus grew as a trend—and then consider what comes next: more quinoa, buckwheat, and rice [products] as people seek similar healthy snack and meal options. And there are fascinating new developments like fruit sushi, chocolate-flavored soda, and even bacon-flavored vodka.”

WHERE DO YOU SEE INFLUENCES COMING FROM SPECIFICALLY?

One example I use all the time is bacon. I traced it back from an article that appeared in the Associated Press newswire in March 2011. The article was called “How Bacon Sizzled and People Got Sweet on Cupcakes.” [The author] followed the trend back to a wine distributor in Southern California who, about six years ago, paired a Syrah with peppered bacon at a tasting. That somehow got out onto the blogs of the time and all of a sudden, boom! Bacon became hot. Everyone talks about Facebook and Twitter all the time, but it’s a new kind of connectivity in terms of how we eat and drink and how we share and talk about it.

DO YOU THINK CELEBRITY CHEFS’ INFLUENCE HAS BEEN STRONG ENOUGH TO DRIVE THIS INDUSTRY?

Huge impact. It used to take a new taste trend from a high-end restaurant five years [to filter down] and now it takes six months or three months or less because there is so much exposure. And another thing is food trucks. People can’t meet the high capital cost of a new restaurant, so they roll out a truck. They’re everywhere. You have people with obvious skills. They can now do what they want and get in front of an audience. And with television shows like the Cooking Channel’s “Eat Street,” it’s a supernova that’s moving faster than ever before.

HOW DO YOU DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN SOMETHING THAT’S GOING TO BE SUSTAINED VERSUS A BLIP ON THE RADAR? YOU’VE TALKED ABOUT BEING NIMBLE, BUT IS THERE A DANGER TO JUMPING TOO QUICKLY?

Too fast or too slow? When the low-fat and low-carb trends came along, by the time [companies] got a product to market, the trend had come and gone. One fascinating experience was when I was doing a talk for Reader’s Digest’s food and entertainment magazines on the same day Lehman Brothers went down and the stock market crashed. The focus of the conference quickly became the economic downturn, comfort food, and the fact that people would focus on more grocery shopping and less time in restaurants. That was the day that Campbell’s Soup was the only stock that went up in value. The buzz around the room was that we, as a food industry, are not very fast or agile to respond to these fast-paced trends.

THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN IN 2008—HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THINGS CHANGE SINCE THEN?

I still worry. How far has the industry come along? Well, a little bit. To a large degree, many consumer food companies still have not made much progress. Fads have a shorter lifespan, trends have a shorter lifespan, consumers have a shorter attention span. While you might have had longevity of three to six to 12 months with a particular type of food, is that collapsing now? We’re no longer in a world in which we can sit back and have a one-year planning cycle.

YOU TALK A LOT ABOUT MOBILE TECHNOLOGY. EVERYONE SEEMS TO BE DOING EVERYTHING WITH THEIR PHONES, BUT HOW CAN A COMPANY REALLY LEVERAGE MOBILE?

Think big, start small, scale fast. If you think big and look five years out—you’re, say, an olive oil company—the bottle is going to be intelligent. It’s probably going to have a chip built into it. You’ll 
probably have some type of relationship, either direct or indirect, with the consumer. That’s a given.

HOW WILL A CHIP ON A LABEL OR BOTTLE HELP THE 
COMPANY GET TO KNOW THE CONSUMER?

The consumer might have liked the company on Facebook—maybe there was a very effective ad on Facebook and they have agreed to share their information. That establishes the relationship. When [the consumer] walks into the store, their mobile device has that 
relationship embedded in it and the product with the active 
packaging chip in it recognizes that they’re near and starts running a commercial on an LED screen while they’re walking into the store. It might say something such as, “You’ve liked this before, so here’s a coupon that we’ll zip to your mobile device.”

That kind of freaks me out.

I’m 56 and that kind of freaks me out, too. My son—he’s 20—is in a different world. He views contractual relationships in a very 
different way. Five years, 10 years from now, he’s going to have more of a budget for spending, and will he accept that idea of zipping a coupon to him? I think he will.

There’s a stat I dragged out years ago—the average consumer scans 12 feet of shelf space per second. Think about that. You have very little time to grab their attention, so you’ve got to experiment quickly with new ways of putting [your product] in front of them.

Brandon Fox is the food and drink editor of Style Weekly in Richmond, Virginia. Her work has also appeared in The Local Palate and the Washington Post.

"Agriculture is an industry that is ripe for massive change and disruption — and the year 2045 might happen by 2025, if not sooner"

“Agriculture is an industry that is ripe for massive change and disruption — and the year 2045 might happen by 2025, if not sooner”

Farm & Dairy Magazine interviewed me a few months back, and have since published an article with some of my thoughts about the future of agriculture. It’s a good read!

Can’t ignore the trends in agriculture
Farm & Dairy, by Susan Crowell
January 2016

I must’ve read at least 10 “top trends for 2016” articles at the beginning of the year. Most of them were related to food or farming, but there was an interesting twist proffered by one of the grand dames of futuring, Faith Popcorn. Popcorn talked about “fear,” her word for 2016.

Fear — think Ebola, ISIS, terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino — escalated during 2015. We’re all just a little bit more worried that something bad could happen. Witness the entire stock market shaking on tremors emanating from China. Will the giant’s economic house of cards collapse this year, we wonder in the wake. It’s not just paranoia; bad things are happening all around us.

I think Popcorn gets a little extreme and says people are also looking for ways to “cocoon” and forget the outside world. They’ll look for an escape through virtual reality or seek protection programs, like armored school buses. But she says people are also looking for things to create memories of happiness and peace.

To me, that screams agritourism or bringing people together around the farm table. After all, you can’t have comfort food without farmers.

Here’s the thing about futurists and trend spotters: We don’t live in their world and often think their projections are wacky and “out there.” While they might not be spot on, however, there are kernels of truth in their outlooks, and that’s why we need to pay attention to them.

Another futurist, Jim Carroll, says there are three types of people: those who make things happen; those who watch things happen; and those who say, “Whoa, dude, what happened?”

You don’t want to be blind to a trend that could bring massive changes to your farm or ag business. You also don’t want to ignore changes that are already happening.

What’s already happening?

  • Consumers care more about how their foods are produced and sourced — and that’s impacting the entire food chain from your farm to the store or restaurant. Transparency, transparency, transparency. Information, information, information.
  • Local food is no longer a fad. Consumers want to support local farms, local businesses. Some are willing to pay, some are not.
  • Environmental responsibility and conservation.
  • The smartphone. It can purchase; it can find deals; it can suggest recipes; it can share nutrition information; it can pay; it can connect farmers with retailers, farmers with restaurants, farmers with their input suppliers, farmers with consumers.
  • Stronger links between health and food (and also convenience); stronger emphasis on “clean eating” — think back to basics, or products that are minimally processed. People want “real food.”
  • Food safety and traceability.
  • Minimizing food waste — which speaks to the processing chain, as well as finding new uses for previously undesirable meat cuts or products.
  • Water everything. (Ever hear of water footprint analysts? They’re already in demand.)
  • Longer life spans. The typical baby born in the U.S. today will live to be 100. What does that mean for family farm structures and transitions and retirement planning and real estate and housing?
  • New faces in farming. Carroll cites U.N. statistics that say there are 800 million practicing urban agriculture. More colleges beyond the traditional land grant universities are offering agriculture degrees. Embrace them all.

Yes, the current climate for traditional agriculture is challenging, so it’s hard to look at these trends and see how they play a role in your farm’s future, when you’re just trying to scrape by in 2016. (Ask yourself what each input costs relative to its contribution to yield. If you don’t what it contributes, get busy.)

Carroll, who does numerous, high-profile keynotes within agriculture, writes, “agriculture is an industry that is ripe for massive change and disruption — and the year 2045 might happen by 2025, if not sooner.”

And that’s one futurist’s prediction we can’t ignore.
By Susan Crowell

MosaicCollege

I’m honored to be one of the keynote speakers at the 2016 Mosaic AgCollege in Orlando in January.

It’s an annual event held by the Mosaic Company, the world’s leading producer of concentrated phosphate and potash, nitrogen fertilizers and feed ingredients for the agriculture industry, for their key clients.

My focus? The future of agriculture!

Big Trends In Agriculture: What Ag Will Look Like In 2045
Jim Carroll, an agriculture futurist and innovation expert, will look into his crystal ball and predict what agriculture will be like in 2045. Whether it’s driverless tractors, weed-zapping robots or data-transmitting crops, Jim will forecast what farms might be like 30 years from now, and encourage the industry to embrace high-velocity innovation. Jim is recognized worldwide as a “thought leader” and authority on global trends, rapid business model change, business transformation in a period of economic uncertainty, and the necessity for fast-paced innovation. You will not want to miss his predictions.

I do numerous keynotes throughout the agriculture industry, with a lot of detailed insight — so much so that after one talk, an audience member asked how long I had been a farmer!

Just this weekend, I was the closing keynote speaker for a dealer meeting for Reinke, the manufacturer of those large irrigation systems you see on farms all over North America.

As in every sector and industry, agriculture is an industry that is ripe for massive change and disruption — and the year 2045 might happen by 2025, if not sooner. We will certainly see a lot of autonomous vehicles, region specific plant varietals based on genomic science, rapid advances in precision farming, irrigation and big data technology, and more.

Spend some time in the agriculture section of my Web site for more insight — and stay tuned! I’ll report on my Mosaic AgCollege keynote in January!

At my recent opening keynote for the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, part of my role was to challenge the audience to think about how rapidly new careers are emerging all around us. I used an agricultural trend to put it into perspective. It’s a good watch.

Not only I am talking about \vertical farming infrastructure managers, but other forthcoming careers include robotic pharmaceutical therapy monitors, water footprint analysts, and drone helicopter insurance crop risk managers! Not to mention manure managers — a unique, specialized skill set that has already been around for at least a decade.

Fiji-46699If you are a futurist (like me), you always must be focused on the upside.

Otherwise, you don’t have much in the way of career potential.

You have to be an optimist. Always seeing the bright side of life!

So imagine my surprise while wandering around the trade show floor at Potato Expo 2015, last January, where I had finished a keynote, and coming across the booth for Fiji.

That’s the Pacific nation best known for tourism, fruit exports, and other niche economic sectors. And here they are, at Potato Expo 2015.

And apparently, don’t have much of a potato industry. Of the top 10 potator producing countries in the world, Fiji ranks 153rd.

In fact, the country has to import most of it’s potato supply, some $22 million USD worth per year.

But they are also thinking beyond that, and are thinking of export potential. I spoke to the folks at the booth, and their attitude was simple. Growing food demand and a lush agricultural sector meant that they could see nothing upside, potential and opportunity. So they thought it important to be there, as a way to begin exploring the opportunity.

Now that’s optimism and innovation!

 

More news from my keynote for Potato Expo 2015 …. this time from The Packer magazine, one of the leading agricultural publications with a focus on — everything packaging! Except the article goes beyond packaging into many of the other things I talked about, including genomics, autonomous vehicles, vertical farms and more!

"What is happening is that packaging is becoming part of the product"

“What is happening is that packaging is becoming part of the product”

ORLANDO, Fla. — Intelligent packaging for produce will become one of the most important trends in the industry in the next five years, agricultural futurist Jim Carroll said at the closing session of Potato Expo 2015.

The expression “Internet of things” refers to the fact that everything that is part of our daily lives will be plugged into the Web, and Carroll said that trend also applies to packaging.

“What is happening is that packaging is becoming part of the product,” he said at the Jan. 9 event.

For some pharmaceutical companies, the packing monitors whether the patient is taking the medicine and monitors whether it is working, he said.

Carroll predicted there will be packaging for potatoes that will monitor the health of the potato while it is transit, constantly monitoring and perhaps reporting that data to consumers.

In his presentation called “Big Trends in Agriculture: What Ag will look like in 2045,” Carroll said it is likely that driverless, autonomous tractor use will be commonplace in decades to come. Automated spraying and harvest technology also will be used, he said.

“We will see staggering rates of change with autonomous vehicle technology,” he said.

By 2045, he said changes in farming also will include a dramatic expansion of vertical, indoor farming methods as global cities become larger and urbanization increases. One acre of indoor farming can match the yields of four to six acres grown outside, he said.

Automated robots that monitor crop stress, disease, weeds, pests and soil status will become commonplace. Geospatial analysis will allow farmers to know exactly what nutrients and other inputs they need to apply on a specific acre.

The cost of to sequence DNA in crops is declining, he said, and that will lead to rapid advances in crop breeding. Carroll said the cost of sequencing human DNA has dropped from about $3 billion in 2009 to about $1,000 in 2015, he said.

“The cost to come up with perfect produce is collapsing,” he said. “We can’t deny that science will accelerate faster into the future.”

Already, Dupont can adjust the genetics of genetically modified corn to account for climate differences between western Iowa and eastern Iowa, he said.

In closing remarks, Carroll said urged growers to be bold and daring in how they adapt technology for their farms.

You can read the original article over at The Packer Web site.

A few weeks ago, I was the closing keynote speaker for Potato Expo 2015 in Orlando, with a talk titled “Big Trends in Agriculture: What Ag Will Look Like in 2045.” It was quite a bit of fun, and drew a SRO audience.

2015 jan potato expo-2

“Carroll considers agricultural people to be some of the most innovative, tech savvy, people in the world. Carroll said that the general public remains uninformed about current agricultural practices. He said that many people continue to view farming from the sepia-toned photos of the 1940s and 1950s.”

Prior to the event, I was interviewed by Spudman Magazine; they ran an article in the daily show newspaper on day 2.  It’s a good summary of my thoughts on the agricultural sector. I did cover a lot in terms of trends for agriculture in the future; I’m working to get a video of my keynote. But for now, you might enjoy reading the article.

Article: Going fast? The Future Will Be Faster
By Bill Schaefer, SpudMan Magazine

You have to be fast to succeed in today’s business climate, and you’re going to have to be even faster to succeed in the future.

That’s the message Jim Carroll is bringing to his presentation at today’s POTATO EXPO.

“My message for the folks in the room is, ‘look there is still a lot more change yet to come and your success is going to come from your ability to ingest that change,’” Carroll said.

“The key thing is the rate of change is accelerating, it’s getting faster, so you’re going to have to innovate faster. You’re going to have to pursue those new ideas faster. You’re going to have to try things faster. You’re going to have to keep an open mind faster,” he said in a rapid, staccato beat.
Carroll is an author, columnist and consultant, with a focus on linking future trends to innovation and creativity. He is based in Toronto,

He is the author of, “The Future Belongs to Those Who are Fast”, “Ready, Set Done: How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast” and “What I Learned from Frogs in Texas: Saving Your Skin With Forward Thinking Innovation.”

Carroll considers agricultural people to be some of the most innovative, tech savvy, people in the world.

Carroll said that the general public remains uninformed about current agricultural practices. He said that many people continue to view farming from the sepia-toned photos of the 1940s and 1950s.

“They don’t realize how many technological and scientific advances have occurred,” Carroll said.

With world population currently estimated at 7.3 billion and projected to be 9.6 billion in 2050 and the increasing demand for better diets in China and India, there’s huge opportunities for those willing to pursue them, Carroll said.

“Global food production has to double to keep up with population, that’s a given. There’s little new arable land,” he said.

He emphasized that while the farming community has readily incorporated advances such as GPS steering and mobile apps to control irrigation pivots and storage sheds, the changes are coming at an ever faster pace and farmers are going to have to keep up.

“I know I’m talking to a very sophisticated, very innovative audience,” Carroll said in anticipation of his appearance at the POTATO EXPO. “But the key message is ‘look, you think you’ve dealt with change so far? Wait until you see what’s coming.’”

Carroll maintains that part of the formula for success is to maintain a degree of agility when it comes to making decisions at a time of transition in consumer demand.

“New consumer food trends now emerge faster than ever before,” he said. “If you’re anywhere in the food market, you’ve got to be able to respond very quickly.”

The days of having two or three years to roll out a new product can be found in the pay-phone booth in front of the video rental store.

“You have to have a team that is nimble and can react fast and understand and predict those trends as they’re unfolding,” Carroll said.

Carroll said that there’s a quote he often uses at conferences to distill his message . “Some people see a trend and see a threat. Innovators see the same trend and see an opportunity and that’s where you’ve got to be as a producer,” he said.

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