Farmers are being kept on their toes, by both changes in dietary preferences and dramatic and unpredictable weather patterns. Many are having to think quickly, stay abreast of trends and cultivate the foods consumers wish to buy. This has been evident this summer, with the harvesting of the UK’s first commercial chickpeas crop, but with such innovations come insurance implications.
Undoubtedly, farmers – and companies like chickpea cultivator, Hodmedod – are looking to respond to veganism’s popularity. The attractiveness of the vegan diet is increasing, with vegan takeaways popularity growing faster than any other type of food, with a massive 388% increase between 2016 and 2018 .
Whilst 600,000 UK residents are now believed to be vegans, plant-based flexitarianism, accompanied by a move towards ‘clean eating’, with its emphasis on whole foods, rather than processed foods packed with sugars, salt, fat, chemicals and preservatives, are other trends holding sway.
Undeniably, concerns about climate change are increasingly being expressed through dietary choices, whilst sophisticated palates that have travelled overseas, are the force behind new preferences, such as Britain being dubbed the hummus capital of Europe.
As well as bringing chickpeas to East Anglian fields, Hodmedod delivered the country’s first commercial lentils crop in 2017 and brought chia seeds to Britain’s agricultural landscape a year ago . Pulses, vegetables and seeds are all high on the wish-list of the British shopper, at a time when there is a disconnect between consumers and the farmers producing meat and dairy products for the food chain.
Bringing beef, pork, lamb or chicken to market is very different from cultivating crops, with this shift in farming focus involving new processes and the use of sowing, harvesting, drying and packaging equipment. Moving into arable farming constitutes a sea-change for many farmers and creates new risks, as unfamiliar methodologies are adopted.
Retraining is vital, with a thorough knowledge of new processes and machinery required. There are other risks to consider too, such as weather. Crop failure will be a very different scenario for many farmers used to rearing animals. Moving into arable production may not be an easy transition, even if it is a necessary one.
Over the next decade, many farms will become part of a process of evolution, as plant-based meals tick the boxes of consumers of all ages, for various reasons. Insurance protection needs to be the safety net underpinning farming change and policies will need to be examined, to ensure they are still relevant, covering the risks required.
Climate change may also impact massively on crop yields, for those already involved in arable production, as well as new entrants. Loss of crop cover may also be necessary.
Farm insurance specialists should be in demand, as agricultural transformation continues. An informed broker can provide the peace of mind farmers require, whatever their individual situation. If you are a farmer, requiring such a specialist’s help, please get in touch.