Louis Dreyfus announced that their group chairperson, along with her family trust Akira, had secured the USD 900 million needed to buy out the shares of other family members thanks to a loan – the terms were not made public. The plan is for her to take ownership of most of the company to grow it further. She said she was also opened to “strategic partnerships,” which was taken to mean that outside investors would be welcome. In Brazil, Louis Dreyfus’ Biosev sugarcane milling group is looking to sell more mills. Biosev posted a net loss of BRL 156 million (USD 41.53 million) in the quarter ending September, although the CEO is hopeful that sugar and ethanol prices will recover next year.
Bunge and Atvos (previously known as Odebrecht Agroindustrial) are two of the groups investing in boosting sugarcane output in Brazil. Bunge built a seedlings centre at its Sao Paulo sugar mill which will double production by 2020 and serve its eight plants. Similarly, Atvos said it was prioritising investment in cane fields and spending at least BRL 600-700 million (USD 171 million) annually in a bid to increase capacity utilisation. The group continues to look for an outside investor and could consider an IPO, the CEO said.
Separately, the Brazilian president-elect clarified that, unlike what had been reported earlier, the agriculture ministry and the environment ministry will not be merged. This came to the relief of environmentalists who had opposed the move. The Brazilian farm sector is also set to benefit from deals signed this week between Cargill, Bunge and ADM and China’s government to export soybean sourced from South America, a sign that China is willing to go pretty far to avoid US origin amid the escalating trade war.
In the US, Cargill is scaling up its blockchain turkey traceability program to cover 200,000 turkeys in 30 states this Thanksgiving, up from 60,000 last year. Interestingly, and unlike many such moves that tend to be consumer-driven, the company said the push came from farmers. Cargill has also tied up with TGI Fridays for its new retail frozen beef patties. It explained that while other groups were trying to create a space for themselves in the retail market, consumers tend to prefer brands they already recognise.
Wilmar International said its net profit rose by 11% on year to USD 407 million in the third quarter (Jul-Sep) on the back of a better performance in the sugar, grains and oilseeds segments. Analysts pointed out that palm oil was a key contributor to the better performance as the segment registered a 93% increase in pre-tax earnings.
In a new campaign against deforestation rolled out this week, Greenpeace put pressure on Mondelez to stop procuring palm oil from suppliers linked to deforestation. The organisation said that, as of 2017, 22 out of the 25 palm oil producers identified as the least sustainable were still supplying the company despite its commitment to eliminate deforestation by 2020. Mondelez reacted to the campaign by saying it had dropped 12 suppliers. It also called on producers to accelerate efforts to improve traceability and transparency in the supply chain.
Greenpeace was also involved in an ad by UK’s Iceland Foods which has gone viral after it was banned from airing on television. The Christmas ad was found to breach political advertising rules because it is about the environment and was originally made by the NGO but it has already been viewed 13 million times on Youtube. Also, close to 700,000 people have signed a petition asking for the ban to be lifted. You can watch it here.
Nestle, which aims to source all of its palm oil sustainably by 2020, teamed up with palm oil producer Sime Darby Plantation to launch a helpline for workers to report issues around labour rights. This was on the recommendation of a report by the Fair Labor Association.
Chocolate producer Lindt & Sprungli also found itself on the receiving end of complaints by environmental and consumer groups – as well as a petition with 70,000 signatures – accusing it of being insufficiently committed to ending deforestation in its cocoa supply chain. As a result, the company published a statement this week saying it was working on implementing an action plan to make sure its supply chain will be free from deforestation by 2025.
The CEO of Danone North America said that consumers’ lack of trust in food companies, especially the major ones, was only growing. He complained that “Big Food” was seen at “Big Pharma” due in big part to scandals around pesticides and GMOs. He hoped that the company’s motto, “One Planet, One Health,” and the recent acquisitions of organic products companies will help people view the group as a “good food company.”
This summary was produced by ECRUU