Innovation is the essential ingredient to steer food and agriculture companies towards growth, according to a new report by Rabobank.

It says that right now the sector is struggling in an operating environment characterised by slow growth, soft demand and ample supply, which in combination are challenging business confidence. However, it says that in the longer term, growth in global food and agri-business will be strong, driven by a powerful combination of population expansion, rising wealth and urbanisantion.

Rabobank argues that a stronger focus on innovation can provide the all-important bridge between the near-term challenges and the longer-term opportunities for global food and agri-business.

Innovation can and should help global food and agri-business to do more with less – that is, increase food availability and improve access while stepping more lightly on the planet. These conclusions are set out in the flagship report ‘Unleashing the potential for Global food and agri-business – a call for innovation and leadership’ that was presented in Washington yesterday during the Duisenberg Lecture that was held in conjunction with the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank.

Wiebe Draijer, Executive Board Chairman of Rabobank’s Executive Board, said that to demonstrate both what is needed and what is possible, Rabobank has developed 10 big ideas in global food and agri-business aimed at boosting global food availability and improving access to food over the next decade.

And, while innovation may be the key ingredient, leadership will be the single most important tool in overcoming these difficulties and putting these big ideas into practice.

Rabobank’s Ten Big Ideas:

1. Adopt big data in US agriculture;

2. Close the yield gap in Central and Eastern Europe;

3. Improve China’s food security;

4. Strengthen South-South trade;

5. Invest in local storage;

6. Boost production in the food and agri-business engine room;

7. Develop cold chains in China;

8. Grow aquaculture;

9. Lift dairy production in India; and,

10. Raise sugarcane’s productivity.