Agriculture: Food Security and Nourish Growth

By 2050, the world will need to feed more than nine billion people, requiring nearly seventy percent more food than we consume today. Moreover, an expanding middle class will demand more meat and other protein-rich foods, while extreme weather could slash yields in important agricultural regions. At the same time, prices of wheat, rice, and a number of other basic food commodities have been rising for a decade.

One issue is that many countries devote resources they cannot afford to short-term approaches, such as subsidies, food and cash transfers, and emergency-relief plans. In such cases, food systems come to be seen as fiscal burdens. Reducing these in favor of strategic investments in the food and agriculture sector could turn such liabilities into sources of economic opportunity.

But increasing regulation and resource constraints are accelerating the level of uncertainty and volatility in the sector. Despite these challenges, opportunities for agriculture players and investors are substantial; there is a renewed interest in the sector, and an appetite both to scale up existing solutions that show promise and to experiment with new “disruptive” technologies.

Agriculture Security and Growth

Much of our work focuses on delivering Burk's functional know-how to leading players along the agriculture value chain. We carefully select applicable concepts and best practices from other sectors, and then adapt them to best serve the unique characteristics of our clients. Tailoring these concepts to agriculture is critical: the sector is diverse, locally differentiated, seasonal, geographically dispersed, and subject to a high degree of operational uncertainty. We have used this customized approach to support clients on projects related to strategy, organization, marketing and sales, and operations. Some of our unique capabilities include:

  • Investment opportunities: Our consultants have created a unique perspective on value creation pools and investment opportunities in food and agriculture. We bring this perspective to our work with private equity groups and financial investors—and to our work supporting industry players as they plan for strategic growth.

  • Raw materials management: We help consumer packaged goods and processing companies improve performance within their raw agricultural materials procurement and risk-management functions.

  • Farm operations: Increasingly, we are developing approaches that help farm operators and land-holding management companies drive operational improvements.

  • Fresh food supply chains: We use an end-to-end perspective on supply chain management to help our clients reduce shrinkage and optimize the quality and cost of their fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats.

  • Rural development: We help national governments and development partners in emerging economies develop their agriculture sectors, and work with donor agencies and foundations that support rural agriculture.

Resource-Productive Operations

We help companies go beyond standard purchasing approaches to work in close collaboration with suppliers, where as much as 80 percent of a product's value may be created. This involves implementing lean manufacturing to improve suppliers' operations and optimizing interfaces between suppliers and manufacturing plants. Some clients pursuing this strategy have achieved savings of 10 to 20 percent in materials costs alone, as well as substantially reducing their environmental footprint. We also support clients in thinking strategically about the future of resources and how new patterns of product ownership could create competitive advantage.


Related Practices

Helping agriculture players, investors, and policy makers navigate the opportunities and challenges created by growing global demand, and build the capabilities they need to win.

How can we help you?

The critical demand for food is creating opportunities for agricultural investment worldwide, and a keen appetite to improve productivity.

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