Deborah Perkins, managing director at Dutch cooperative bank Rabobank, presented an overview of the opportunities and challenges facing the global food and agribusiness sector at the Women in Agribusiness Summit on September 28. Perkins discussed recent macroeconomic developments, commodity prices, and the importance of trade and its risks and rewards. Key takeaways from her presentation include:

  1. Economic growth in China is slowing and debt has skyrocketed. However, Perkins said China’s economy is not collapsing.
  2. Disruptions in Greece, Russia and the Middle East have an impact on world markets and oil prices.
  3. Incomes are rising in highly populated countries at an unprecedented speed, which leads to increased consumption of meat and milk.
  4. Increased urbanization means that, rather than growing their own food, people are getting more of their food at supermarkets and restaurants.
  5. Weather disruptions have a big effect on world prices and affect grains and proteins sectors.
  6. Extreme weather events are a factor in volatility.
  7. In 2015, almost all commodity prices declined.


The Women in Agribusiness Summit continues through September 30 at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis.