Welcome, 2019! 2018 was a year full of challenges, from wet weather and flooding to hurricanes, fires, and trade wars. We experienced newer diet trends where Keto and Whole30 reigned as some of the most popular weight loss methods. Where will we go into next year? Will more people adopt vegan diets? Is there a higher demand for organic, natural, and non-GMO foods? Here are my predictions for the Top 5 food and farm trends for 2019.
1. Older labeling fads will fade. Organic Valley, Hunt’s, A&W Canada, Panera, Chipotle, Stonyfield, Smirnoff, Triscuit. What do these brands have in common? They all used marketing labels and campaigns which strongly backfired. From non-GMO tomatoes in Hunt’s products (there’s no such thing as commercially available GMO tomatoes) to scary “chemicals” on Panera’s “no-no list,” these companies were heavily called out by science-based shoppers for fearmongering, and now many customers, myself included, refuse to buy their products. I believe in 2019 fewer companies will do this based on the fact they may lose business, and I’m grateful for the consumers who spoke out against misleading or lying marketing strategies.
2. Data and technology will continue to soar and be more affordable. Modern farms are pretty darn cool. We have text alerts when calves will give birth. We have pheromone canisters to trick mating behaviors and trap devastating insects, tractors that drive themselves, email notifications if feed isn’t dispersing correctly — the list goes on and on. Technology isn’t going anywhere, and just like every aspect of our lives, it will continue to grow (pun intended) and become more affordable for the average farmer.
3. Trade wars will settle a bit, but pricing will still be an issue — don’t foresee a huge upswing in market price. Farmers have become quite good at their jobs. Our industry is complicated with global trade, overproduction, supply and demand, price wars, etc. I predict the price of corn will stay pretty stagnant, and soybeans will rise a bit, but I’m no expert on the topic. Overall, we hope to see prices rise but we are probably still a ways a way from that … to see our prices to back up to what they were about five or six years ago. Farming always goes in cycles.
4. New label trends will emerge. Regenerative? Is it “organic enough?” As more consumers catch on to the fact that so many of our food labels are misleading, food corporations will have to come up with new label trends to try and differentiate themselves. The “bioengineered” label is looking pretty nice for the pro-GMO folks. Hydroponics and indoor farms are becoming more popular … will they demand a higher price and label? What about CRISPR and gene editing? Will they be labelled too, and when will the madness end? It’s the way the cookie crumbles but do you know what I personally think sells? Humor! I wish more food companies used humor to sell products, like this package of bacon:
5. New dieting trends will show up. Move over Keto … something new is in town. I’m not sure what that is, but you know it’s gonna happen. Eliminate a food group … pay for some pill … come up with a trendy new fearmongering campaign … long gone are the days where “eat less, move more” or “eat more fruits and veggies, exercise, and reduce calorie intake” are popular ways to lose weight and be healthy. Someone will profit in some way. That’s just how the diet and exercise industry tends to work and profit.
Michelle Miller, the Farm Babe, is an Iowa-based farmer, public speaker, and writer, who lives and works with her boyfriend on their farm, which consists of row crops, beef cattle, and sheep. She believes education is key in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers.