Our Team's Takeaways from Commodity Classic 2020
A Look Back at Commodity Classic 2020
Photo courtesy Commodity Classic.
It's hard to believe it's only been a month since my GrainBridge colleagues and I arrived in sunny San Antonio for the Commodity Classic. With everything that's happened since then, the event feels like it was a lifetime ago. And, we were pretty lucky the event happened when it did. If it had been scheduled even a week later, it likely would have been canceled.
For many of us, this was our first time attending Commodity Classic, which calls itself America's largest "farmer-led, farmer-focused agricultural and educational experience." We were joined by more than 9,300 attendees, 4,600 of them being farmers, which was a record-breaking number for the show's twenty-fourth year.
Below are our team's observations and takeaways from the 2020 Commodity Classic.
All About the Tech
The unofficial theme for Commodity Classic could be summed into one word: technology.
Ag-tech companies—and companies with tech components—were everywhere this year. This isn't a complete surprise considering the growing amount of companies in the ag-tech landscape. But even companies that are primarily known for things other than technology (Pioneer and Valley Irrigation, for example), were showing off their apps.
Terry Chvatal, GrainBridge's Chief Operating Officer, said technology was much more of a focus this year than he’s observed at previous Commodity Classic shows. "Four years ago, it was more about hardware than it was software as a service," he said.
At the tech companies we visited (or the companies showing off their tech), data was almost always a selling point. "Data is becoming more important to farmers," Terry noted. "With every tech company I spoke with, data and the ability to use it to benefit farmers is becoming the most important thing."
Take Time to Learn
Commodity Classic is a great combination of a high-quality trade show and legitimate learning opportunities. There were more than 30 formal educational sessions for attendees. And according to a survey taken by Commodity Classic, education opportunities were the number one reason guests attended.
On top of the formal sessions, several exhibitors hosted learning opportunities directly inside their booths. For example, NCGA held several small sessions discussing current policy, market trends, and education. And Kansas Corn STEM presented the K-12 curriculum they offer around corn.
GrainBridge was selected by the Commodity Classic board to present a “What’s New” session—a session designed to showcase new innovations or services in agriculture. Our Chief Strategy Officer, Faith Larson, was joined by Al Kluis, managing director at Kluis Commodity Advisors, to discuss the changing ag landscape and our new grain marketing platform, STRATUM.
Enjoy the Journey
Whether you’re an exhibitor or attendee, trade shows can be exhausting—especially behemoth shows like Commodity Classic. It can be tempting to retreat to the peace of your hotel room after a long day of working at a booth or walking a massive convention center.
One of our values at GrainBridge is, “enjoy the journey,” and it’s something we all truly embrace. Our team was intentional about getting together every night for dinner, drinks, or rides on the motorized scooters that seemed to be everywhere in San Antonio.
Whether you’re with family or colleagues, we recommend taking time to explore the city you’re in. Enjoy each other’s company. Opportunities like this are how camaraderie is formed and memories are made. And now more than ever, that’s something we can all appreciate.