Federated Farmers Regional Policy advisor Coralee Matena writes about how the growing online shopping market could affect New Zealand's agricultural industry.

Over the silly season, when time was most precious, I launched our family head first in to the world of online grocery shopping.

We had noticed our favourite local supermarket recently replace three prime location carparks with click and collect lockers, and was curious to give the world of online shopping a go.

A month later and our weekly shops have by in large been replaced by the ability to order online.

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In their 2018 Connected Commerce Survey Neilsen reported 14 per cent of us currently use online shopping for groceries.

Read more from Federated Farmers here.

While not yet one of the main categories consumers tend to buy online, travel, books/music/stationery, events and fashion taking out this honour, all online commodity sales are on the rise.

Of the $96 billion New Zealanders spent in 2018, $10 billion was spent via e-commerce sales, a 9 per cent increase compared to 2017.

It seems we aren't alone either.

Estimated global online retail sales for 2018 were 8.8 per cent, up from 5.9 per cent in 2015. While growing at a slower rate than we are experiencing domestically, the trend is still up.

So where does this place our agricultural industry and what do we need to do to ensure we keep up with changing times?

The Riddet Institute's report, Foods in a Digital World, suggests information is the key to future success.

While we are currently recognised as a responsible producer of good healthy niche products, produced in an environmentally and socially responsible way, technology advances will enable greater information to be available and ultimately shape future buyer preference.

Consumers now and in the future will be seeking industry out online and researching the products that meet their needs for quality, health and social status.

The new digital age gives industry the potential to reach and connect with its consumers in totally new ways.

It seems we need to be ready for this change and have the relevant information to hand.

Something to think about when you are next pushing your trolley around the supermarket.

Or if you are like me, maybe not