Crises are unpredictable. The socioeconomic crisis derived from the utility has put on the table the concept of stability as something “fictitious” and the need to survive change by anticipating future trends, innovating and making business models advance so as not to become obsolete in the face of uncertainty constant. Sectors such as agriculture already assumed before the Covid-19 challenges such as the increase in costs of intermediaries, the growth of imports and the fall in profitability due to the difference in the sale price of the farmer and the market. However, it has been one of the sectors that has managed to maintain, and maintain, the economy.
Exploring opportunities in times of crisis was the central axis of the Bankia Forward by Innsai conference, which offered an X-ray of the sector and advanced the trends in the market. “Agriculture has shown resistance to the general decline in economic activity, causing both the weight of the primary sector and the agri-food industry to increase in our economy,” Bankia President José Ignacio Goirigolzarri said in advance during the presentation. A sector that they support through Bankia Forward, which since 2019 has been a space to inspire and help understand the change in the sector, offering proactive anticipation options to help these companies, as indicated by Antonio Rodríguez, corporate director of Pymes Bankia.
THE FIVE BIG TRENDS ACCORDING TO AGRO TRENDS OF BANKIA
- Smart agriculture
Promoted by the need for farms to find formulas to increase efficiency in the face of rising costs or falling productivity. There are many innovations, such as precision agriculture using sensors to improve the performance of crops, processes and tasks, or automation agriculture with robotics, among others.
- Sustainable agriculture
It arises from the challenge of feeding a world population in a sustainable way and the impossibility of doing so with the current system. This is moving a set of innovations that try to optimize processes, with concepts such as circular economy and reduction of resources and CO2 or of acreage through vertical production.
- New foods
Healthy, adapted to social and environmental values, taking into account that current generations take this value into account. They also require products that adapt to their lack of time. They ask for sustainability in these products, reduction of waste and plant-based foods to avoid animal consumption.
- The age of knowledge
Consumers demand more information and want to know how it is being produced and its environmental impact, as well as its origin. The value of transparency stands out here, understanding companies as glass boxes that cannot hide anything from the consumer’s expectation that they be clear and honest about their products.
- On-off channels
New opportunities to contact the end consumer, with new channels that arise from the need to reduce the distance between the farmer and the consumer, such as ‘e-commerce’ channels and ultra-proximity agriculture, which are developed near the places of consumption, bringing production closer to numerous centers.
Through this tool, ideas and challenges for innovation and new professional profiles in the sector are known, as well as the promotion of pilot projects focused on real solutions or new financing products. Its goal is “to accompany its customers in the future by reinventing agriculture in a new setting.”
“We have to look beyond the borders of our company and sector”, highlights Jesús Navarro, CEO of Innsai
And it was precisely on this new scenario that the presentation by Jesús Navarro, CEO of Innsai, turned, who addressed resilience as a “key to survival”, to better face crises and take advantage of opportunities. That is why the expert invites us to “establish a different perspective that allows us to find opportunities in the environment and understand that the current moment is key to resetting ourselves, to rethink our business model in a different way.” Thus, his speech invited us to reflect on three axes: what is the appropriate type of management in times of crisis, what is the future of the sector and where is the change going and how to use all that information to reinvent itself.
For the expert, the problem arises when the speed of change in the environment is greater than the speed of adaptation of the company. «The effects of the crisis change the rules, reorganize the market and while a few act, many others withdraw and emerge new leaders who change those rules of the market, “he said. Given this, he invited to question aspects such as the optimization of resources and operations, prices or communication and sales channels.
Build on existing
“Crises create opportunities, but for those who see them.” With this statement, Jesús Navarro made clear the need to reinvent himself through a new way of thinking, from the future backwards to move from the abstract to the concrete and build something new on what already exists; a binomial of urgent thinking and future opportunities. In this sense, he listed as keys to focus on the exploitation an operating plan oriented to the present that guarantees the survival of the company; exploring the future to identify trends and signs of change in the sector; imagine the company in that future and draw the strategy that brings it closer to that visualization, and be ambidextrous, placing the operational and future strategy to execute them simultaneously.
He highlighted the need to overcome resistance to change through three levers: distinguishing which changes are structural or conjunctural, taking into account the need to anticipate in order to emerge with more force in the post-crisis reinvention phase; the introduction of peripheral vision in the business, looking beyond the company and putting the consumer at the center as the true protagonist so that they act as “a great connector of products” and, finally, placing innovation within the scope of the model business, strategy, making the current model compatible with the future and being attentive to what happens.
Bankia’s Agro Trends tool analyzes the major trends in the sector and allows us to glimpse where the business model of the future is heading, placing 4.0 technology as an engine that allows innovations to become reality. These are smart agriculture, sustainable agriculture, new foods, the consumer’s need for knowledge and the use of different channels.
The internet of things, sensors or robotics have helped improve the performance of crops, processes and tasks. The technology itself has also contributed to a reduction in polluting gases, as well as new ways of producing that save space and allow a circular concept of resource use. Innovation is also reflected in new foods, with healthier designs adapted to social and environmental values to which consumers value. These also take into account the transparency of the company when reporting on its production and environmental impact, or betting on ultra-proximity agriculture by reducing the distance with the farmer. These trends are guiding the direction of change, so “drive the urge with purpose.”
In conclusion, the sector faces five major challenges according to the expert: innovate in the production base by digitizing processes, use these productivity gains to produce in a sustainable way, adapt agricultural products to lifestyles, be transparent in the communication and innovate to reach the consumer directly.
Covid-19 and the connection with the consumer
Innovation has been put more in value with Covid-19, since agriculture has also received the impact of the pandemic although it has remained at the level of activity. The demand for vegetables and fruits grew by 34% and 16.5% respectively in the ninth week of the confinement, but “the farmer has not taken advantage of it”, according to the CEO of Innsai, referring to the market sale price between 7 and 10 times more than the farmer’s sale price. On the other hand, the digital aspect has been fundamental. “Everything digital broke in in a big way. New ways of connecting and recreating the shopping experience from the security of home appeared and having a much more sensitive marketing that made us understand that companies took care of us, ”Navarro clarifies.
As a consequence of the growth of digital, consumers have learned the potential of shopping ‘online’. “The ‘e-commerce’ grew what would have taken two or three years under normal conditions,” he adds. Innovative methods such as non-contact home delivery, having specific local distribution centers or consumer awareness in the approach to health and conscious and local consumption are some of the factors to highlight.
«The word is to connect, to have a different look that allows us to have a peripheral vision. We have to look beyond the borders of our company and sector. See that we are not alone, that when we look beyond we can find something very important, which is that others can have synergistic objectives “, informed Jesús Navarro, inviting each company to do its homework and see” where it is acting and where it still has to act ».
After a difficult year, the health crisis continues to leave its mark not only in loss of human life, but also in socio-economic losses. The different economic sectors of the country have suffered to a lesser or greater extent the consequences of confinement and its impact on consumption, as well as the uncertainty that the disease still generates. However, as Bankia’s director, José Ignacio Goirigolzarri points out, “the agricultural sector has shown resistance to the general decline in economic activity, causing both the weight of the primary sector and the agri-food industry to have increased in our economy ». It stands out that there has been less destruction of jobs and workers affected by ERTE. «For all this, today more than ever the agricultural sector must face with determination the challenges it faces, ranging from the strong growth in demand for food to the change in consumption habits of this population, passing through the need for optimize the use of natural resources ”. “I am confident that together we can anticipate future changes and thus be able to contribute to the sustainability of the sector’s business models, which will be absolutely key for our economy to continue advancing,” he added.
Bankia Forward was born in 2019 with the aim of being a space to awaken, inspire and help understand change with a proactive and anticipatory attitude that complements the financial support of the entity. “At Bankia we understand that we are immersed in a stage of great changes and the emergence of new technologies and the consequent habit of our clients. Its job as a financial institution is to understand these changes and give its clients what they need to make the best decisions, “said Antonio Rodríguez, corporate director of Pymes Bankia. The Bankia Forward Radar is one of the tools that it has developed to monitor cases worldwide in the agriculture sector, to be a source of information on innovation processes and disseminate future trends. “2020 has been a year dedicated to deepening in devising new opportunities for Bankia Forward that allow companies in the agricultural sector to continue helping,” he stated, emphasizing a work philosophy aimed at connecting people to leaders with an innovative attitude, connecting projects to the challenges of the future or innovation strategies, companies and markets. “At Bankia we firmly believe that strategic anticipation and the connection of companies is the key to the future,” he added.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.