China’s continued influence on agricultural commodity demand and global economic growth, along with increasing weather extremes, stand out as key issues for North American food, beverage and agribusiness in 2013, a recent poll of Rabobank clients shows. The poll of over 350 executives from leading companies in the North American food, beverage and agribusiness industry was conducted at Rabobank’s recent Markets Forum held in New York City. Rabobank is a leading bank to the global food and agribusiness industry and premier financial institution to the North American food, beverage and agriculture sector.

 

China Will Continue to Drive Demand for Agricultural Commodities

Asked to name the country or region which they believe will have the greatest impact on global agricultural commodity demand over the next 10 years, 61% of respondents at the Rabobank Forum chose China. That view of China’s continued dominance far exceeded views of India (14%), Africa (10%), Latin America (9%) and Southeast Asia (6%).

 

Views Mixed on China’s Long-Term Economic Dominance

Despite recent signs of slowing economic growth in China, the large majority of executives polled by Rabobank see China continuing to be the most important driver of long term global economic growth. Forty-one percent of respondents said China would drive the global economy for between five and 10 more years, while 40% said China will remain the primary driver of global economic growth for the next 50 years.

Bill Cordingley, Head of Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory for Rabobank in the Americas, said, “These results are not surprising and reflect the significant impact that China has had on the food and agribusiness industry over the past 10 years, globally as well as in North America. China today has the second largest middle class in the world at 157 million, which will surpass the U.S.’s middle class in the next ten years, so China’s demand for agricultural commodities is going to continue to grow. Our North American clients in the food, beverage and agriculture sectors see opportunities to play a role in the Chinese market, not only as exporters but also as investors in the country’s domestic growth by bringing technology, know-how and capital to support development of a more modern, safe food system in China.”

In addition to their views on China, Rabobank Forum attendees provided opinions on a range of topics that they believe will be significant issues for the global and North American food and agriculture/agribusiness industry in the coming years, including production levels, risk management, genetically modified organisms (GMO), social media, and U.S. and European macroeconomics.