Today there are two main systems for processing agricultural products, from producers to consumers. One is semi-industrialised conventional agriculture, and the other is organic farming.
In my view, none of the existing models can meet the food needs of a growing world population in a sustainable, long-term way. None of them guarantees a fair return and economic viability for all actors in the supply chain. Over the past decades, price has become the sole cornerstone of market competition strategy.
Therefore, we all, collectively, pay a huge price for cheap food!
That is why I am convinced that the time has come to find a new way forward: we must find a happy medium between industrial and organic farming and return to common sense!
It’s time to change our mindset and put “quality at a fair price” at the heart of our business policy, instead of “high volume at a low price”!
Industrial agriculture puts too much emphasis on price!
We can easily identify the three critical points of the traditional, over-industrialised system of agriculture and related processing industries:
Farmers, to SURVIVE, can jeopardize soil health, long-term fertility as well as animal health. Processors may risk the quality of the finished product due to price competition and enormous pressure, which ultimately may put the health of the consumer at risk!
Producers and processors are working together to reduce costs through economies of scale and scope, so that supply is greater than market demand.
Promotional prices are often lower than actual production prices. This significant difference between promotional and actual prices confuses the consumer, who thus loses the ability to perceive the actual value of a particular good.
The result is environmental degradation, a disregard for animal welfare standards, overproduction and low-quality food. On top of that, opaque consumer prices and a confused society in poor health.
There are only two examples of excessive methods in industrial agriculture:
- Is it worth shortening the lifespan of a cow to the extreme, squeezing 40-50 litres of milk out of it a day, thereby causing an overproduction of milk that permanently keeps prices below 30 eurocents (105 forints)?
- Does it make sense to promote the spread of an increasing number of pig breeds that oppose 30 piglets a year, even though the mother has fewer udders than a pup, just to keep meat overproduction going?
Is it worth it? Does that make sense? I don’t think so! If we continue like this, this model of production will ruin humanity.
When we talk about organic farming, we face the exact opposite problems!
- Non-transparent: Communication to customers is often non-transparent and not fair at all.
- Uncertainty: over-reliance on nature, lack of control results in a loss of control over the crop, leaving us vulnerable.
- Too expensive: organic products are only available to a narrow, wealthy segment of the population.
This last point, however, is crucial! Organic products are not available to most of the society because of the prices, and in addition, organic farming is unable to meet the food needs of a growing world population.
Some additional thoughts to highlight the shortcomings of organic farming:
- Do we seriously want to believe the stories about agrotourism about almost fairy-tale-like dream worlds, which are only about happiness, health, the appearance of perfection? That a small farmhouse, with a kitchen garden, a pair of goats, two piglets and chickens, caters to the countless guests who come to them, and feeds dozens of people with healthy food only by relying on its own resources?
- Can we be sure that all the organic products we find in the stores are made in full compliance with the regulations and all their parameters meet them?
- Many organic products are imported from non-EU countries, such as Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia… Who checks that these countries have made their regulations fully EU compatible and that they have been respected during the production process?
My idea for reorganizing the supply chain is a new model that accompanies food production from producers through processors and vendors to consumers:
HonestFood: Tasty, Healthy, Affordable
A new golden mean for the production, processing, and trade of agricultural products.