As we prepare to ring in a new year, what trends will shape 2022? Sara Schafer at AgWeb talked with Jack Uldrich, a futurist and former naval intelligence officer, about what he sees impacting agriculture in the new year. He said there are four trends:

1. Blockchain technology

“What it allows businesses to do is have a secure, trustworthy and transparent view of the supply chain. With blockchain, in the not-too-distant future, both consumers and businesses are going to know exactly where their crops came from, how they were grown, how they were shipped, how they were stored, etc.,” Uldrich says.

It will also enable companies such as Cargill, PepsiCo, General Mills and their customers to hold farmers accountable for production practices and resource use.

2. Regenerative Agriculture

Big food companies are betting on regenerative agriculture to thwart climate change which is paying farmers to sequester carbon by adopting conservation practices.

“We’re seeing European governments be more aggressive on requiring agribusinesses and farmers to get more serious about regenerative agriculture, and the Biden administration will likely provide financial incentives for farmers to store carbon in their land. This is a huge opportunity for farmers; it’s not too soon for every farmer to begin getting up to speed on this issue.”

3. Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles now represent 2% of total global vehicle sales, but could reach 24% in eight years.

How many people are buying electric cars? Is battery technology improving?

“Pay attention to those trends because I think electric vehicles are going to take off faster than most farmers are currently estimating,” he says. “If so, demand for gasoline goes down, which means demand for ethanol goes down. If ethanol demand goes down, the demand for corn goes down. My point is not to say that will happen, but corn farmers should be prepared for that possibility.”

4. Plant-based Proteins

When the pandemic started in March 2020, plant-based protein sales soared.  

“That had a lot of folks worried,” Jayson Lusk, Purdue University agricultural economist, told AgWeb. “But, that sales growth seems to have leveled off a bit in the past few months.”

While the growth in sales has slowed, Uldrich says, “Plant-based protein is going to begin eroding some sales of traditional meat, milk and eggs. It is not going to become 100% of the market, but I think that it’s going to grow faster than other food segments.”

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