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To Feed The World: Food and Agriculture Industries Must Embrace Innovation

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New York, NY (The Guardian, January 15, 2015):  Lower oil prices – you can hardly move without running into news of new lows, which should be good news for us all, right? They should reduce the cost of producing goods and delivering services, in addition to offering relief at the pump. But while the latter may hold true, the picture for goods and services is less clear. Yes, production costs will come down, although it turns out that the way savings are shared along supply chains and reach consumers is complex. In short, don't expect big savings to hit your wallet soon.

The global food and agriculture industry is faced with a considerable conundrum. The current economic malaise has created an operating environment characterised by sluggish growth, soft demand and ample supply. Seemingly, consumers are the winners, as they reap the benefits of lower prices. Meanwhile, the thumbscrews have been put on retailers, producers and farmers: margins are being squeezed and confidence in businesses is ebbing away.

These days, individual companies are struggling to protect their share of the market; some of them are simply struggling to survive. And yet we need to look beyond this and focus on the long term. The demand for food is set to expand exponentially, driven by the powerful combination of a rapidly expanding global population, increased wealth and standards of living, and further urbanisation. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) predicts a 60% increase (pdf) in global demand for food by the year 2050, with 9.15 billion mouths to feed.

In order to rise to this daunting challenge, global food production needs to be ramped up on a large scale and this needs to happen amid increasing competition for agricultural land and water resources.

What's Ahead in 2015?

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Madison, WI (Food Manufacturing, January 15, 2015):  You don't' need a crystal ball to predict that food manufacturers and Mom Bloggers will continue to forge great partnerships throughout the year. So I asked the Mom Bloggers in my network what trends food manufacturers should be aware of in the Mom Blogosphere and what advice they have to heighten the value of working with them. Here's what five had to say.

"The critical skill that will be necessary for Mom Bloggers to stay at the top of their game is audience engagement. I also think that Mom Bloggers who have a distinct style will be very helpful to win readers over.... wishy-washy plain writing isn't cutting it.

I love seeing how things are made, so I think trips to find out how a food is made, or a learning experience on how to cook something amazing are ways to inspire great content." — Jenilee Whisler, owner of Eight in the Nest

When selecting Mom Bloggers, food manufacturers will need to pay close attention to readers' comments on their posts. It's a good sign when Mom Bloggers engage with these readers. Food manufacturers will also need to be more discerning about the quality of Mom Bloggers' reviews. Reviews that are overly gushy and impersonal come across as disingenuous. Mom Bloggers who write good product reviews tell a story. They really take the time to become knowledgeable about your product.

Food manufacturers may want to consider inviting Mom Bloggers on a familiarization trip to tour their headquarters, processing plants or test kitchens and to meet the people behind the brands. Each Mom Blogger can easily parlay the experience among several posts.

Poll Shows Support For Labeling Foods With GMOs

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Madison, WI (Manufacturing.net, January 13, 2015):  Nearly two-thirds of participants in a recent national poll favored requiring labeling of food products that contain genetically modified organisms.

According to the December Associated Press-GfK poll, 66 percent of a respondents favored requiring labels for GMOs, while only 7 percent opposed such requirements and 24 percent responded as neutral on the issue.

Only about 40 percent of survey respondents, however, indicated the presence of GMOs in foods was very or extremely important to them.

GMOs are grown from seeds engineered in labs to carry certain characteristics, such as resistance to diseases or herbicides. Many crops, including the vast majority of the nation's corn and soybean supply, are genetically modified, with the bulk of those corn and soybeans used for animal feed or in processed ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup and soybean oil.

GMOs With Health Benefits

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Madison, WI (Food Manufacturing, January13, 2015):  Over the last years, various GM crops with health benefits have been developed in which genes, mostly originating from other organisms, have been added. Notable examples include rice enriched with pro-vitamin A (also known as 'Golden Rice') and folate-enriched rice, developed at Ghent University.

Fifteen years after the development of 'Golden Rice', which was the first GMO with health benefits, the developers of such transgenic biofortified crops have little reason to celebrate. To date, none of these GMOs are approved for cultivation, unlike GMOs with agronomic traits. Despite this, six major staple crops have been successfully biofortified with one or more vitamins or minerals. Clearly, these GMOs with health benefits have great potential. In a recent study, from Ghent University, not only the impact of GM crops on human health, but also their market potential was convincingly demonstrated.

Market potential

Research at UGent reveals that consumers are willing to pay more for GMOs with health benefits, with premiums ranging from 20% to 70%. This differs from GMOs with farmer benefits, which are only accepted by consumers when they are offered at a discount.

Chicken Industry Adds 21,000 New Jobs

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Greenwich, NY (MorningAg Clips, January 8, 2015):  The National Chicken Council (NCC) and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY) today have made available an updated economic impact study that highlights the increased positive impact the chicken industry has on jobs, wages, and federal and state revenue in the United States.

A dynamic and integral part of the national economy, the chicken industry increased from 2012 to 2014 its number of direct jobs from 259,000 to 280,800. Taking into account direct, supplier and induced impact, the chicken industry generates 1,339,875 jobs nationwide, according to the study.

The industry also increased from 2012 to 2014 its total amount of wages from $49.1 billion to $74 billion, total economic activity from $205.6 billion to $348.8 billion, and government revenue from $18 billion to $24.4 billion.

The data is hosted on an interactive website – www.chickenfeedsamerica.com – that can be sorted nationally, by state, congressional district, state house district or state senate district.

Nutrition Part Of Handling Cold Temps

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Columbus, OH (Ohio's Country Journal, January 8, 2015):  With the colder temperatures, wind chill factors and snow this winter, livestock producers need to pay close attention to livestock for the health of the animals and ultimately, the bottom line of the farm.

There are numerous factors to consider when managing for the cold.

"It depends on how the animals went into winter in the first place. Have they had time to develop their coats for winter?" said Bill Seglar, DVM, PAS and Sr. Nutritionist/Veterinarian for DuPont-Pioneer Global Forages. "And it is one thing to have cold temperature and another to have driving winds with it."

Mothers to be, in particular, need close attention as temperatures drop and wind speeds rise.

"I have seen beef cows that had gotten to February just fine but when they get to their third trimester without good quality feed they can die. If they are out there on corn stalks it just won't do it. They are covered with thick hair and you don't see how skinny they are," Seglar said. "They need to be transitioning to a higher quality hay source. They need to substantially increase energy with grain and forage."

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