"The bottom line is that we see India shifting from a soymeal exporter to an importer over the next few years, which represents about a 6 million ton swing," said Nelson.

While this growth in soymeal consumption is high in percentage terms, the starting base is quite low so the impact on world tonnage will be somewhat small. What might be most unappreciated by the world's protein players is the large and growing role of India's beef (buffalo) exports in global meat markets. Consumption of milk from buffalo is growing about 6.5 percent each year, which is faster than the growth in domestic beef consumption. This has made India the fourth largest exporter of beef in the world. The low cost of this product makes it especially attractive in Middle Eastern and Asian markets where the product competes on price with chicken.

Brazil's challenges

"With ample and reliable rainfall, supportive industry leaders and government, and plenty of untapped land potential, the future looks bright for agriculture in Brazil," said Nelson. "However, we see two big challenges on the horizon that may affect the profitability of future growth prospects: currency and infrastructure."

While currency appreciation is reducing the country's relative advantages, Brazil's infrastructure weakness has been magnified by growing production, and is the primary challenge. It often costs between $2 and $3 to ship a bushel of crops from Mato Grosso, Brazil, to port, which is about twice as much as it costs to ship a bushel of grain from the United States to China. While infrastructure is improving, it is coming at a slow pace - slower than agricultural output is growing.

However, Nelson said, "improvement in Brazilian infrastructure could eventually unlock a vast quantity of productive land and crop output."

United States & GM crops

Acceptance of genetically modified (GM) crops has been primarily limited to the U.S. corn market, which is the only major grain with demonstrated technology-drive yield growth. Additionally, there are no foreseeable prospects for GM wheat; because, even in North America, there are many obstacles to accepting the technology. Therefore, when considering the potential role GM seeds could play in providing production and productivity growth to feed rising food demand, it is essentially in the context of the U.S. corn market. In the longer term, there are output traits in the pipeline for drought resistance and nitrogen utilization that could prove meaningful.

However, Nelson said, "while the world could use every bit of productivity and supply growth it can muster right now, advances in GM crops are not likely to move the needle meaningfully any time soon."