Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association
Supply · Service · Stewardship

CoBank: Change Is Coming for U.S. Food and Agricultural Businesses

The widely anticipated summer economic boom is well underway and U.S. consumers are spending on services again. Jobs are abundantly available, but workers are scarce as the labor market is healing more slowly than most economists expected. According to a new Quarterly report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange, labor challenges felt during the pandemic and continuing today will incentivize businesses throughout the food supply chain to rapidly increase automation within their operations.
“The most significant and lasting impact from COVID will be an acceleration in automation,” said Dan Kowalski, vice president of CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange division. “And it will affect the entire supply chain from field to grocery and restaurants. It won’t be an overnight transformation, but much larger investments in technology now will lead to a much more automated supply chain over the next few years.”
Commodity price inflation has been a boon to many ag producers over the past year. But increases in raw material and transportation costs, combined with higher wages, are causing retailers to push those higher costs on to consumers. U.S. consumers have benefited from very low food inflation for much of the past decade, but higher prices are a near certainty for the next year.
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