The future of food production needs to focus on the needs of the consumer, according to Alltech’s Prof. Aidan Connolly.

“Ireland has a goal of feeding 40-50m people in doing so it wants to add a value-added approach.

“And, if it wants to take a value-added approach it is absolutely critical to understand the changing needs of consumers or prosumer,” he said.

Prof. Connolly spoke at the Agricultural Science Association’s conference in Kilkenny, where he told the 400 delegates in attendance that consumers are becoming more proactive in their purchasing choices.

Prosumers is the move that the we have seen not just in the last year, but in the last five years from consumers being passive to being active.

“They are making choices in terms of food not just based on the price or the availability but based on their aspirations on what they look for,” he said.

These prosumers can be extremely influential, he said and they can have a big impact on the success of a business, product or brand.

“They are extremely vocal through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and they have the ability to influence large number of people.

“In terms of your business as a farmer, it is absolutely critical for you to identify those prosumers within your sector,” he said.

The Alltech Chief Innovation Officer also said that the new generation of consumers are looking for things that consumers never looked for in the past.

They want to know how it is produced, where it comes from and they want to understand the nuts of bolts of what we do.

“This means that they are influencing retailers, food chains and restaurant chains, which is in-turn putting those demands on to us as food producers,” he said.

To meet these changing consumer demands, he said that farmers and food producers should be prepared to be more active on social media to diminish the stereotypes of farming and to educate those who wish to learn and understand the story of their food.