Paul Presented the Opening Address to the Sugarcane Futures Forum in Mackay in April 2018

” Paul spoke with authority on a range of topics.  He challenged the audience to consider the big trends shaping our future and to better understand the customer of the future.  Paul gave a thought-provoking presentation drawing on a range of materials as well as his previous experiences within the agricultural research and innovation sector.  Paul was an active contributor to workshop activities over the course of the Forum and provided feedback after the event.  Thank you, Paul, for your informative, engaging and thought-provoking keynote presentation!”

Tracy Henderson

Strategy Executive Officer

Sugar Research Australia

The key points were:

The industry will operate in a future transformed by massive change including:

  • Billions of more people on the planet and the makeup of the population changing including “peak child” and many more people in Africa and Asia.
  • Thos people being more wealthy and more connected.
  • The transformation of the energy system from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
  • The transformation of the transport fleet from driven and fossil fuel powered to automated and electric.
  • The ongoing increases in capacity of technology to drive sensors at lower costs and lower energy use.

The customer of the future will be wealthier, more connected, and more interested in all aspects of the food they eat or the products they buy including their social and environmental footprint and their relationship to the customer’s genomic profile.

When looking at some of the major markets for products from the sugarcane plant there will be some major changes including:

  • At best a slowing growth rate of sugar consumption as people move into higher income levels, and the growth rate of population increases slows.
  • A reduction in the demand for liquid fuel for transport in the thirties as the road transport fleet becomes more and more electrified. 
  • A growing demand for “non-combustible” oil use where plant-based chemicals can compete as a low carbon source of feedstock materials.

Lots of new technologies will be available to the industry but by themselves, they will not produce a long-term competitive advantage. They are necessary but not sufficient for long-term success. They must be part of an interlocking business model that connects the customer to all parts of the supply chain.

There is a window of opportunity that must be grasped now because a transformation is required that is going to take 10-15 years to achieve.

You can hear Paul being interviewed on:

ABC Country Hour

(scroll forward to 35 minutes)

or read the summary at:

Australian sugar industry warned to look beyond biofuel future