On Jan. 4, 2023, experts Damian Mason and Todd Thurman, both holding experience in data analysis, joined host and Pederson’s Natural Farms Vice President Neil Dudley in a webinar to talk about how aging, shrinking and changing population will affect where food comes from.

Main points in the discussion between Dudley, Mason and Thurman included fertility rate, mortality rate and immigration.

Panelists discussed how, generally speaking, as women gain higher economic and educational statuses, they are having fewer children. The webinar highlighted that fewer children means fewer workers to both contribute to the economy and support the older individuals in the population.

Damian Mason noted that the median age is currently 38 and a half years old. Thurman added the point that women 80 years old and up are a quickly growing demographic. As the population grows older, marketers will need to cater to different demographics.

As the population ages, though, complications arise. Todd Thurman outlined general age demographics for “givers,” those who contribute to the economy, and “takers,” those who do not contribute to the economy. Generally speaking, Thurman described “givers” are usually those who are saving, have children or are in the midst of their career, while “takers” are typically adolescents and older individuals who are likely retired. Thurman discussed how fewer children leads to more “takers” and fewer “givers,” which impacts the chain of consumption and contribution.

As labor shortages ravage pretty much every industry, the agriculture industry may take an even harder hit, the panelists said. Since agriculture is generally more of a hands-on industry, an already struggling labor pool led the panelists to project a continued struggle, particularly in light of these population factors.

The last main point of discussion in the webinar was the topic of immigration. Todd Thurman discussed the importance of immigration, particularly in light of labor shortages. Thurman suggested making it easier for people to legally come to the U.S., and more difficult to illegally, to try and curb labor shortages. Mason pointed out, though, that immigration is a temporary solution, and the current labor shortage is a preview of oncoming issues.