The framework of food manufacturing as we know it could be changing in the not-so-distant future. The evolving discussion surrounding sustainable food systems — producing, processing, transporting, and consuming food — has taken center stage for business leaders and communities worldwide. This however does not mean that our current systems are not sustainable, but as this debate has become increasingly prominent in international circles, it has become a conversation we cannot ignore and must be prepared address proactively.
This was the focus of a May 18 webinar with Melissa San Miguel, which also reviewed and discussed the driving forces behind re-shaping the landscape of food manufacturing, trends influencing international food systems, policy and regulatory predictions – and ultimately, how it could impact agribusiness in our state.
The good news is that North Carolina is in a strong and unique position to be a major contributor in this space as the second-largest food manufacturer in the country. We have a strong regulatory network, and we have a large and growing population which of course equates to more consumers.
However, as our presenter adamantly pointed out, the time to sound the alarm is now, not when it’s already at our doorsteps. As today’s leaders within the agribusiness community, we must begin having those critical conversations, asking ourselves: What are the bigger picture influencers here? Where are they coming from? How do we prepare for them? And, how do we work together proactively to shape them?
What to Know:
- Shaping the future of food
There are pivotal “future of food” conversations happening internationally right now that will have direct impacts on consumer choice and food businesses’ independence. In other words, there are forces at work that are attempting to shape the future of food that are not necessarily democratic, market-driven, or even transparent.
- Eliminating consumer food choices
A hallmark of this movement is the belief that buyers cannot be trusted with certain food choices and food companies cannot be left to their own devices. Intervention sometimes takes the form of trade agreement language that appears docile in its interpretation, but far reaching in its effect.
- Unintended consequences
While revitalizing our food system may come with positive intentions, as demonstrated with the Chile sweetened beverage tax, the proposals the activists put forward generally eliminate a ton of choice and have had negligible effects on their desired outcomes.
- It will take a village
An NC-based food company cannot fix this one on its own. It will take coalitions working together, paying attention, designing messaging, and creating an alternative approach to the system overhaul being touted by activists and regulators. This is where entities like the NC Chamber can step in – convening, educating, activating, and weighing in where we can on behalf of our members.
Let your voice be heard on this critical agribusiness issue as well as others, by joining Ag Allies, a coalition of businesses that work tirelessly to champion the needs our state’s top industry. If you have not yet done so, sign up below to receive exclusive updates on pressing agribusiness issues and developments; invitations to calls, webinars, and meetings with state and federal policymakers; and the opportunity to shape the regulatory landscape through collaboration with our Government Affairs team.