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Life has changed forever

What will life look like after Covid 19. For many farmers, the impacts have been very minimal. Some logistical complications, but otherwise ok. The wool market has been the most effected with woollen mills around the world coming to a halt as the virus left its mark. That aside, it appears at this stage as if any major negative impacts will be relatively short-lived, and commodities will return to some form of normality.

But will life have changed for the everyday consumer? We won’t know for sure, but there are a number of significant factors that can be predicted with some certainty.

Did we ever need to shake hands with everyone, every time we saw them? Is it even a good idea at all? It is strange now, even just watching TV and seeing shows with people shaking hands and being close to each other. Subconsciously your brain is thinking “they shouldn’t do that”. And why weren’t we all carrying hand sanitiser around with us before? Is it going to be something we just switch off after all of this, or will it linger with us as a society?

Life in isolation has certainly demonstrated to everyone what is important to them. What they like, what they miss, what they used to think was important, but actually isn’t. Combined with some increasing financial constraints now, and into the future, in many cases this will point to a simpler life. Less extravagance, less materialism, and perhaps more in touch with where food comes from, and the opportunities to grow your own. The demand for vegetable seeds and seedlings over the insolation period has been enormous as vegie patches made a serious comeback.

Domestic consumption of lamb, just as one example, has been diminishing over the past decade. It is quite possible that we will see consumer trends change for a range of products as they increasingly look for more locally grown, with a focus not just upon Australian, but more specifically, geographically local products.

Work environments will never be the same. Why do so many businesses have offices, sharing their germs and distractions? The real answer is trust. The culture of so many businesses is that you have to have everyone where you can see them to make sure they are working. Well guess what? Businesses with good cultures and trust don’t need to see their workers. They simply need to see their outcomes. Ninety percent of modern businesses don’t pay people to sweat. They pay people to achieve.

If an employee can work from home and produce the outcomes you need, all while walking the dog, doing washing, gardening, home-schooling the kids or whatever else they are doing then all power to them. Many office environments are counterproductive, and a lot of businesses have just demonstrated that to themselves.

World travel will be dramatically reduced for some time. Partly through imposed restrictions, partly due to reluctance to travel, and partly because the airline industry will have been decimated by Covid 19 restrictions. At the same time, people will be keen to seen anything but their own house once out of isolation and so domestic travel will likely see a resurgence. This also fits well with the simpler way of living that many will have developed a renewed appreciation for. We all know we can school our kids from anywhere now (it’s not necessarily fun, but it is possible), so will we see a surge in around-Australia trips, with families opting to pack up and head off on an adventure?

The impacts upon the world economies have been enormous. Us, our kids, and our grandkids will be paying for this for a long long time. We can expect changes in taxation, and most probably an increase in the GST rate. Hopefully we will see offshore companies taxed properly as well so that local businesses aren’t the only ones doing all of the heavy lifting.

While we don’t know exactly what life will look like after Covid 19, we can be confident that it will be different. Covid 19 will be written into the history books as one of those moment when the world changed. When consumer trends shifted. My personal opinion is that the outlook for Agriculture, and the opportunity for real connection with the consumer is unprecedented. We cannot miss this opportunity to connect and build (in some cases rebuild) trust. But it must be a truthful story. And while we are telling our story, we must be doing twice as much listening to our consumer.

As the great Ken Solly says, you were given one mouth, and two ears for a reason.

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