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Consumers: Tech in agriculture is good for world, but not sure about me

Consumers: Tech in agriculture is good for world, but not sure about me

Market news |
By Rich Pell



According to 85% of the 3,000 participants in the company’s three-continent Feed4Thought survey, technology in agriculture (ag-tech) is how we’ll feed a growing population, make farming more sustainable, and improve the lives of farm animals. At the same time, says the company, only about half of those surveyed want their food to come from a technologically advanced (versus traditional) farm.

Survey respondents most wanted to see technology used in industries like medicine and education. Farming ranked third – above defense, manufacturing, retail, and food.

“We know that new technologies are allowing farmers to make better, faster, more informed decisions to feed a hungry world while protecting the planet,” says Sri Raj Kantamneni, managing director of Cargill’s digital business. “We also know that agriculture is still the least digitalized industry sector in the world.”

“That means there’s a lot of opportunity — and a lot of need—for greater investment in ag-tech,” says Kantamneni. “This survey highlights that in order to help humanity benefit from these advancements, we first need to do a better job of explaining the value of new technologies to consumers.”

The survey included participants from South Korea, the U.S., and France. The company says it found markedly different perceptions of ag-tech across the three surveyed countries.

South Korea was the most positive about high-tech farms – both as a source of food (70% pro) and for their potential to make farming more sustainable (95% pro) – while France was the most apprehensive, with only 37% wanting their food to come from a technologically advanced farm. France and the U.S. thought farmers should benefit most when ag-tech improves operations; South Korea chose consumers.

When it comes to tech investments, South Korean and American consumers agreed the top priority should be that it “increases food safety.” French participants said technology should first and foremost “improve animal well-being.”

Forty-two percent of survey takers said they’d welcome the use of sensors on the farms that grow their food, while 35% would be okay with AI. Devices that affix to an animal, such as ‘Fitbits for cows’ and robotic or automated labor (e.g., robotic milkers) were acceptable to 29% of respondents.

As far as genomics, a quarter of contributors said they were comfortable with farmers breeding animals based on genetic markers for desirable traits. Finally, 18% of respondents would embrace feed containing genetically modified (GM) ingredients. Younger French and American participants (aged 18 to 34) were slightly more likely than their older counterparts (aged 55+) to accept GM feed.

None of these innovations, says the company, earned above a 50% approval rating, which correlates to respondents naming “consumers desire traditional products” as a top barrier to farmers adopting tech — second only to farm economics.

“That’s why we launch partnerships like Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator, which applies innovation to help create a safer, more sustainable food system, and the new Feeding Intelligence platform, which includes a website that offers expertise on topics like digitalization to help producers make better decisions,” says Adriano Marcon, president of Cargill’s animal nutrition business. “Both show consumers that technology in agriculture is how we’ll address the very things they care about most.”

Cargill

Related articles:
Cargill invests in animal facial recognition for smart farming
Smart farming algorithm optimizes transport of perishable crops
AgTech IoT startup uses AI to combat food spoilage
Smart agriculture solution adds AI-enabled features
Qualcomm invests in digital farming

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