Changes in global food demand are creating new challenges and opportunities for industries connected to agriculture. Demand for food products is expanding alongside a rising world population that is also becoming wealthier. Yet, a wealthier consumer also tends to be a choosier consumer, even as some in impoverished regions can ill afford to be selective. Industries attempting to meet the increasingly variant demands of end users must understand who the consumers are, what they want, and how they want to purchase. In addition to expanding consumer preferences, which includes a growing emphasis on food quality and food safety, shifts in global demographics are contributing to broad changes in the demand for food and agricultural products.

The 2015 Agricultural Symposium, Responding to Future Food Demands, shed light on how global demand for food is changing and the corresponding adjustments being made across food and agricultural supply chains. The symposium began with a near-term outlook by describing the current environment for food and agricultural industries and recent changes in agricultural markets. The remainder of the first day of the symposium focused on emerging trends in global food demand arising from underlying changes in consumers. On the second day of the symposium, sessions focused on how agricultural industries, financiers, and policymakers will need to respond to these emerging trends.

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2015 Agricultural Symposium Agenda

July 14, 2015  

Setting the Stage

This opening session will describe the current environment and near-term prospects for food and agricultural industries. Speakers will discuss recent developments in food and commodity prices, fundamentals associated with global supply and demand, and current conditions surrounding agricultural finance and investment.


Demographic Trends and Consumer Preferences

This session will explore the ways in which demographic shifts and evolving food preferences are shaping global food demand. Any business looking to supply the right kind of products needs to know their customer. As demographics shift, so too will the demand for food products, both in the U.S. and internationally. In addition to changing demographics, food-based businesses, industries, and nations must also adapt to considerable variation in what their customers consider most important. Speakers in this session will discuss how broad and emerging trends in demographics, and consumers' corresponding preferences, are likely to shape the aggregate demand for food and agricultural products in the future. 


Industry Panelists: 

  • Bob Nolan, Senior Vice President of Insights and Analytics ConAgra Foods
  • Joshua Sosland, Vice Chairman, Sosland Publishing Corp.

Dinner and Speaker: Economic Conditions and Monetary Policy

  • Esther George, President and Chief Executive Officer, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

July 15, 2015  

Producing for a Diverse Customer

This session will discuss how agricultural production and food-based businesses are responding to the wide and expanding range of consumer demands. Some consumers place a priority on affordability of food products while others care primarily about quality and are not as concerned about price. Increasingly concentrated food and agricultural production, however, has created challenges for businesses attempting to supply products for both types of consumer. Is the best of both worlds from a consumer perspective — low prices and high quality — an achievable goal? Speakers in this session will discuss how technology, production practices, and marketing strategies are adapting to the needs — and wants — of the future customer base.

Speaker: Industry Panelists:

Financing Efficiency and Innovation

This session will discuss how evolving consumer food preferences are translating into new financing opportunities. Expanding agricultural production to feed a rising global population requires productivity and efficiency improvements. Satisfying a wider range of global consumer food demand requires innovation through research and development. Both are opportunities that often require significant capital deployment and financing partnerships. Speakers in this session will discuss how agricultural finance might evolve, from traditional agricultural lending to private equity and venture capital, in an effort to meet the complex needs of tomorrow's consumers.


Lunch and Concluding Policy Discussion

The symposium will end with a concluding policy discussion where panelists will describe how policy might respond to emerging trends in consumer food demand and the corresponding supply adjustments being made. Panelists will discuss where policy should focus its efforts going forward in recognition of a changing landscape for global food demand and how to best facilitate desired policy outcomes.

  • Robert Johansson, Chief Economist, USDA
  • David Hallam, Former Director, Trade and Markets Division, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Previous Ag Symposiums