The Future of Agro-industry in Latin America

International Trade expert Leonardo Gonzalez Dellan calls for a new culture of enterprise in the Latin American Agro-industry sector. “The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that a 50 percent jump in global agricultural production is needed to support a projected world population of nearly 10 billion people by 2050.

If Latin America is going to keep and increase its share of the global market, it needs to modernise.” Much of the increased demand will come from China which will account for 1.38 billion people by 2050, and its demand for food products will double.  Much of this will come from domestic supply but experts believe that there are significant challenges with which the Chinese food sector will need to contend with to maintain or increase productivity. As Chinese growth increases the size of the middle class there will be an increase in the consumption of western style diets – more meat, sugar, coffee, soy, diary and less demand for starch staples.

The value of beef consumption alone is predicted to rise by 236 per cent, dairy consumption by 74 per cent, sheep and goat meat consumption by 72 per cent and sugar consumption by 330 per cent. Food production in Latin American is projected to increase over the next decade but not by enough to satisfy this kind of demand.

To meet the demand, Dellan recommends the sector to adopt the same models used in high-tech industry. “The incubator-accelerator model is routinely used for technology start-ups and research innovation in other sectors, we need to introduce this method to the agricultural sector to encourage innovative approaches and new products. For this to work we need a new system of incentives and a simplification of the regulatory processes.” Above all, Dellan passionately believes in the need to invest in education. “For too long the land and farming have been second choices as careers, by linking high tech innovation with farming, we can encourage our young people to embrace the agroindustry sector as part of the future and not the past”