Future Farms of America: Listen Up

The future of farming likely looks very different than what you might think. I recently visited a number of farms in western Minnesota where the Redwood County Farm Bureau hosted a tour that exposed us to modern agriculture production – the practices, challenges and opportunities on the horizon for the industry. This outing came on the heels of many other discussions over the past year at events, including Esca Bona and Expo West, focused on “good food movements” and further confirms the systemic changes underway.

WHY IT’S HAPPENING

People will always have to eat. It’s one of the things we love about being in this industry – it’s always changing, but it’s always in demand. However, the population is growing at a rate that requires farmers globally to increase production by 70%1 in coming years to feed the 9.1 billion people expected to be alive in 2050. Simultaneously, income levels are increasing within developing countries which gives consumers a larger voice to demand quality food products that align with their nutrition needs and preferences.

This is forcing a number of farming components to change dramatically and rapidly. The two that stand out from the discussions highlighted on our farm tours? The growers and the technology.

WHAT WE THINK

According to the 2012 agriculture census, growers who are older than 65 outnumber farmers who are younger than 45 for the first time in history.1 The prediction is that farming will continue to consolidate to more mid- and large-scale farms and that the younger farmers will approach the business from a “farm-management” position. Research indicates that Millennial growers are educated (57% have a bachelor degree), tech-focused, and business-savvy.2 They also view farming as a business and a lifestyle – and that as a demographic they are highly purpose-driven.2 This was backed by every farmer who spoke on the tour, who shared that the passion is rooted in much more than the business itself. For younger growers, it is truly a way of life.

Technology showed up in some surprising ways along the tour, but most interesting was the impact it is making on effective farming practices. The dairy farm we visited was managed by people but operated by robots. The implementation of robots allowed this farmer to remain in business – without it, the labor costs would have been too much to compete with larger producers. Apart from robots, many farms rely on imaging from drones to inform soil and field analysis. This data can be critical in maximizing production through planting, spraying, monitoring and harvesting.

WHAT’S NEXT

Spending a day in the life of a farmer sheds light on the incredibly complex and dynamic business we know as agriculture. The next generation has steep challenges ahead that will depend on innovative thinking and a purpose-driven approach.

[1] “Trending 2050: Future of Farming.” McMahon, Karen. Syngenta. Thrive. Spring 2017.
[2] “Millennial are Increasingly Making Key Farming Decisions.” Maulsby, Darcy. Syngenta. Thrive. Winter 2017.

Can You Make the Logo…Smaller?

Illustration of the shift in Tyson Foods corporate logoSpeaking at the 2017 Consumer Analyst Group of New York, Tyson Foods President and CEO Tom Hayes talked about a new vision for the company and unveiled a dramatically new corporate logo. A stark departure from the thick white font atop a red and gold seal, the sleek “T” stands out for its simplicity and–dare I say–boringness compared to the sea of food and beverage logos out there.

Such a digression away from the original logo indicates much more than a corporate culture shift. In fact, Tyson has embraced what designers call responsive branding.

WHY IT’S HAPPENING

There is no arguing that when it comes to your brand, consistency and repetition is still incredibly important. But what has changed is how consumers interact with brands. As Matty Bruning, interactive designer at JT Mega explains:

Brands are now living in an increasingly diverse and fluid digital landscape. We need to make sure our brand elements are diverse, flexible and fluid enough to degrade gracefully as visual real estate becomes scarce. - Matty Bruning, Interactive Designer

In short, the spaces our logos occupy are getting smaller and more varied thanks to an increase in technology and social platforms. Before, as the curators of our brand communications, we could be confident in our assumptions about what our brand elements would look like when appearing on printed materials, websites, billboards, etc. In the new digital ecosystem, logos get squeezed to anything from a 40 x 40 social media profile image to a 16 x 16 pixel icon on the tab of a browser window. With the proliferation of sharing on an ever growing number of platforms and devices there is no telling where or how your brand presence will display online.

The result: detailed and/or complex logo designs become unrecognizable when scaled down.

Illustration of a complex logo design that becomes unrecognizable when scaled down

WHAT WE THINK

Both retail and foodservice companies need to proactively begin the responsive logo design process for existing brands and corporate logos.

As mobile, e-commerce and smart technology advances affect how we interact with food and beverage brands, responsive logos are needed to ensure consistent, continued brand recognition among customers. Investing in responsive logos will make it easier to adjust to shrinking screens and heightened UX demands in the future.

WHAT’S NEXT

While logos for all new brands should be approached with this new branding lens, Bruning descrbies how to approach existing logos for responsive-design:

Account for all brand experiences

Consider all the ways your audience will interact with your logo, including digital environments and device usage.

Illustration of considering all the ways an audience will interact with a logo

Design a logo continuum

Responsive logo design means thinking of your logo not just as a graphic, but as a system of modular components that allows you the flexibility to iterate several versions of your logo, each successively distilled until you reach the most basic yet recognizable element. This will ensure consistency across all mediums, technology platforms and devices.

Illustration of a logo as a system of modular components

Just some Thought for Food

The Reality of Virtual Trade Shows

March marks the beginning of a much anticipated–and somewhat derided–season in the food sales industry: trade shows. This month, we’re busy finalizing booth graphics, email blasts, customer events and lead capture plans for many of our clients. Despite the nuances of each channel, there is one universal objective: maximize valuable face-time with current and potential customers.   

Which is why a February 2 headline in the IFDA daily e-newsletter caught my attention: “Jake’s Finer Foods Has Partnered with vFairs to Deliver an Interactive, Virtual Food Show.”

Many of you will remember virtual trade shows as a tech trend that began back in the 90’s that never gained real traction. But recent advancements in tech, mobile and other devices made me wonder if virtual shows were worthy of a second look. I called in our digital mavens, Sandri Dekker and John Schneider, for their expert opinions.

WHY IT’S HAPPENING

Through conversations with media partners and many of you, we know that the travel and resources required to attend trade shows are increasing. For some customers, it has meant additional scrutiny about the ROI of attending. Which makes a virtual/digital trade show, in theory, attractive to many in the industry.

We contacted the team at VFairs to give us a behind-the-scenes look at Jake’s Finer Foods showcase and understand what’s happening in the virtual trade show space:

Much like an in-real-life (IRL) event, the show floor allows attendees to navigate a series of manufacturer booths.

Much like an in-real-life (IRL) event, the show floor allows attendees to navigate a series of manufacturer booths.

Courtesy of VFairs https://www.vfairs.com/

Once inside the booth, customers can click on various tabs to learn more about products, download marketing materials, or even live-chat with a sales representative.

Once inside the booth, customers can click on various tabs to learn more about products, download marketing materials, or even live-chat with a sales representative.

Courtesy of VFairs https://www.vfairs.com/

WHAT WE THINK

The current virtual trade show platforms fail to create an authentic supplier-customer interaction. Tech vendors are focusing too much on replicating a trade show floor, rather than optimizing the content with current technologies.

Trade shows are intended to bring our brands, products and company to life with customers in exciting ways. While the technology potential for virtual trade shows is enormous–video, live chat, interactive digital engagement and virtual reality–we’re still waiting to see a company successfully execute a virtual solution.

WHAT’S NEXT

As an agency, we understand that virtualized sales events will become more prominent across the food-business landscape as resources are tightened and time becomes an even more valuable commodity. We also know that these events–regardless of technology savviness–are important to attend. Here are our top 3 ways to maximize your participation in an upcoming virtual event:

Be Strategic with Graphics

In a virtual environment, graphic space is small and limited. Opt for close-in product photography, your company logo, and short but informative copy. 

In a virtual environment, graphic space is small and limited. Opt for close-in product photography, your company logo, and short but informative copy.

Talk Like a Human

We naturally type/write more formally than we talk. In a live-chat environment with customers, keep it conversational and don’t be afraid to inject some personality.

In a live-chat environment with customers, keep it conversational and don’t be afraid to inject some personality.

Bring Content to Life

Your content strategy will be largely dictated by the technology offered within trade show hosting platform. Talk with the vendor to see if options like video are available to bring the content to life. 

Just some Thought for Food

 

Questions, comments or want to learn more? Let's connect! weshouldtalk@jtmega.com

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