Millennials and Generation Z consumers will soon be the dominant purchasers of primary sector products, farmers and growers were reminded last week.
Queensland cotton producer Danielle Statham, from the Sundown Pastoral Company, reminded the 1600 delegates to the Rabobank Farm2Fork conference in Sydney that, as a demographic group, they have different values and expectations than current consumers.
“Their requirements, their change in mindset in the way they perceive their food and fibre, is different.”
Her husband David agreed, saying surveys show consumers will pay more for garments that meet sustainability and social compliance standards and have information about production.
He said the cotton component of jeans, which cost $US18 to produce, is $2, so there is room for a premium.
The Stathams have developed FibreTrace, a pigment added to their cotton which enables consumers to verify the provenance of the eventual product.
Former Unilever chief executive Paul Polman said climate change requires a change to the way food and fibre is produced, but he said consumers need to be prepared to pay more.
Polman praised the role of farmers in clothing and feeding the world but said a warming climate will reduce yields and to fund required production changes, prices need to reflect a product’s true value and the higher cost of production.
In addition to addressing climate change, consumers are also seeking nature-based solutions in the food and fibre products they buy.
“Nature is one of the highest providers of value,” he said.
Farmers and growers also need the support of processors, the supply chain, finance providers and governments to confront these challenges, which are happening at a pace never seen before.
Polman said change must begin with personal responsibility.
“Outsourcing emissions from the value chain is not working anymore.”