Elanco President Offers Ag Enthusiasts Recipe for Reinvention and Future
GREENFIELD, IND. (February 13, 2018) – One of the most discussed – and surprisingly divisive – topics today is agriculture and how our food is raised. GMOs, organic, cage-free: academics and activists alike are looking for the magic recipe to produce enough food for the growing population while safeguarding human health, animal welfare and the environment.
“Science is the answer, but it has a credibility crisis,” Jeff Simmons, president Elanco Animal Health told participants in a keynote today at Canada Ag Day. “Already, 1 in 3 in our world get the wrong nutrition, from malnutrition to obesity, and we’re drastically overusing Earth’s resources. If we’re going to meet a 60 percent increase in demand for animal protein in the coming years, we have to do things differently.”
The most misunderstood voice in the world today is the farmer, Simmons said to the crowd of farmers, policy makers, industry leaders and students gathered to celebrate the role of agriculture. “Farmers are humble, hardworking, disciplined people. Most aren’t comfortable in the limelight.”
When consumers’ interest about how food is raised peaked in recent years, farmers largely preferred to avoid the attention instead of talking about their craft.
“Instead of boldly telling our story, we in agriculture simply reacted to issues. We allowed our practices and innovations to be used as a negative differentiator for marketing purposes. As we look forward, we need to do a better job of explaining how science and innovation can help us meet the world’s growing appetite for protein in a sustainable way.”
“No single food group has the potential to positively impact human health and nutrition like animal protein – meat, milk and eggs,” Simmons said. “Fulfilling this vision means farmers must have access to the best available science and innovation to sustainably meet the growing demand, while maintaining food affordability and enhancing animal welfare. We believe we have enough innovation to meet the significant growing demand for meat, milk and eggs and give consumers what they want.”
For the past few years, absence or negative label claims have been the leading market trend, creating short-term differentiation for brands. Over time, data shows12 these labels may be negatively impacting animal welfare and jeopardizing past gains in environmental sustainability.
But Simmons pointed to an emerging new paradigm in food. Supplies of organic milk, cage-free eggs and antibiotic-free chicken are all exceeding consumer demand as consumers aren’t willing to pay higher prices for the same quality product. The labels were driven by consumers’ desire for transparency. Instead they’ve gotten confusion and higher prices. For example, antibiotic-free chickens made up an average of 40.5 percent of fresh U.S. production, however, only 6.4 percent of sales were from products sold as such, according recent news from Sanderson Farms.
Looking to the future, Simmons offered the participants a recipe for reinvention to position the industry for long-term success, including:
- Having the courage to become bold, proactive storytellers using a compelling platform that connects the health of animals, with the health of people and the planet.
- Becoming more inclusive of innovation and positioning it as a positive differentiator, as well as highlighting the positive benefits of what’s in food – such as protein – instead of what’s not in food.
- Really understanding the consumer, what they want and how to adapt to that changing need.
He also highlighted an exciting future for emerging innovation in animal health as adjacent sectors begin to converge, including biotechnology, feed, diagnostics, the microbiome and others.
Elanco provides comprehensive products and knowledge services to improve animal health and food-animal production in more than 70 countries around the world. We value innovation, both in scientific research and daily operations, and strive to cultivate a collaborative work environment for more than 6,250 employees worldwide. Together with our customers, we are committed to raising awareness about global food security, and celebrating and supporting the human-animal bond. Founded in 1954, Elanco is a division of Eli Lilly and Company. Our worldwide headquarters and research facilities are located in Greenfield, Indiana. Visit us at Elanco.com and EnoughMovement.com.
1 Sources: Salois, Karavolias, Watkins, and Baker (2017) The Impact of Broilers Raised Without Antibiotics on Animal Health. Under Review.
2Sources:USDA, Cobb, Ross. Sources of primary data: Expert consensus (interviews with technical experts) and Proprietary industry data (Agri Stats).