A conversation about scale and business and the key role of decentralised processing in regenerative agriculture with Ed Byrne, co-founder of Soil Works Natural Capital. He has launched an investment firm first investing its own money into accelerating regenerative farming.
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Ed Byrne and Koen van Seijen also discuss the importance of taste to make a profit and its impact on consumers.
Regenerative agriculture helps to fix two of the biggest problems the world has right now: health and nutrition. One of the neglected areas in the regenerative space is the consumer awareness of the topic. Supply follows demand and the trend should alter consumer awareness in regards to regenerative produce to attract more demand for it.
“I think if we can get regenerative produce to that level of awareness, then supply will push demand, more and more farmers will do it and more farmers will move to regenerative practices.” – Ed Byrne
Local farmers should be allowed to scale with decentralized processing, especially with the technology available now. Instead of big farms, there should be more small suppliers that are connected directly to customers. Decentralized farming can scale because fewer inputs are needed.
“Scale doesn’t necessarily mean centralization especially in the current world we live in where I, on my mobile phone, I can open an app and I can order online or order from a farm or have a central store to connect me to local farmers and they deliver the next day.” – Ed Byrne
Centralized processing became unattainable for farmers to compete because of the lack of access to centralized plants that hinder their economy to scale. Decentralized processing enables small plants and mobile processing on farms to create a better opportunity for farmers and is a better fit for the animals’ quality of life that turns into a better quality of meat. For regenerative agriculture to succeed the whole ecosystem must be rebuilt from massively centralized to massively decentralized.
“The most important thing for our health and the world is that we can eat. Regardless of the quality of food we have to eat, the people producing our food are treated so badly, make so little money, and it’s ridiculous.” – Ed Byrne
Quality over Quantity
If every stakeholders, investors, producers, and consumers realize that quality matters rather than quantity, it will change the world. With the amount of food waste, the problem lies in the quality of food. This is where both sides of supply and demand should focus.
“We don’t have a quantity issue, we have a quality issue. I think every study says that we can make enough quality food with regenerative practices that would solve so many problems.” – Ed Byrne
Importance of Taste
Byrne equates consumer demand to a pyramid that puts taste on top. The taste of food should be number one to get customers to react. Regenerative produce should taste great with practices that help the community and bring the best food to customers.
“Regenerative produce should be the most tasty food. It should also be the most nutrient-dense” – Ed Byrne
Business is not Evil
Regenerative agriculture prioritizes the farming and grazing practices that benefit animals, farmers, and the earth. It must be treated as a business. The farmers need to make money and give consumers high-quality food. Business is often seen as a bad thing but to create a sustainable long term business, there is a need to earn money. In order to scale regenerative agriculture, it must make money and profit.
“The best way to force the food system to change outside of consumer demand is by business. There should be profit all the way along, and farmers should make more money than they have ever done before. I think this has to be driven by business.” – Ed Byrne
To learn more about Ed Byrne, the co-founder of Soil Works Natural Capital, and scale and business in regenerative agriculture, download, and listen to this episode.
Ed Byrne, Soil Works Natural Capital is a Public Benefit Company on a mission to accelerate the Regenerative Food Movement by helping launch scalable, repeatable businesses that fuel the regenerative economy. Soil Works Natural Capital was started by Ed Byrne and Lew Moorman who developed a passion for the regenerative movement while building software companies at Scaleworks using common-sense business principles.
Soilworks is their mission-oriented effort to bring common sense of disruption to the food system – the most important market in the world.
- Soil Works
- Dan Barber book: The Third Plate
- Scale Works
- Pasture Map
- Article on the acquisition of Pasture Map
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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.Join the Community