Commodity Conversations Weekly Press Summary

Bunge announced that the CEO will step down and that the board will start the process of finding a new one. The news comes a few weeks after two shareholders, Continental Grain and DE Shaw & Co, successfully lobbied to add four new members to the board, while another shareholder, Capital Innovations, said that the CEO had been “too comfortable” with the current situation at Bunge. A source also told Bloomberg that Bunge would now be open to revisiting takeover bids by Glencore and ADM.

Authorities in Singapore have blocked Noble’s restructuring attempt by not allowing it to relist as New Noble amid an ongoing probe. In response, the group decided to restructure through a Bermudan court and has applied for a hearing on December 14. Noble said that the only other option would be to file for insolvency. Singapore granted the group a second deadline extension and it will now have until December 31 to complete the process.

Norway’s government approved a new comprehensive policy to exclude feedstocks with a high deforestation risk from its biofuel supply by 2020. The country’s palm oil consumption reached a record level last year, while a Norwegian report estimated that current biofuels policies would increase the world palm oil demand six-fold over the next ten years.

A few days after the news, Wilmar published a joint-statement outlining a new effort to completely remove deforestation from its supply chain by monitoring suppliers with satellites and immediately excluding any source found to be causing deforestation. In response, Greenpeace said it would suspend its campaign against the firm, adding that satellite imaging could prove a breakthrough in solving the problem.

The head of the WTO said that world trade was going through its worst crisis since 1947 mainly as a result of the US-China trade war. The impact of the crisis is being felt very differently across the supply chain, with Brazilian soybean producers reaping significant benefits, with exports to China up 137% in the year up to November, while Brazilian meat producers have had to pay more for feed. But now, South American grain producers are concerned that they might lose their new markets amid talks of a truce between the US and China. Although flows won’t immediately change as contracts have been signed for the next few months, experts say that the region will have to implement long-term reforms to make its agriculture industry more efficient and diversified. In Brazil, for example, addressing tensions with truckers will be one of the first challenges faced by the new government.

While this is going on, China is trialling new insurance policies to help shield farmers from fluctuating crop prices. The Dalian and Zhengzhou exchanges are piloting an insurance-plus-future insurance program for corn, soybeans, cotton and white sugar contracts. Insurance companies guarantee farmers an income if prices fall below a certain threshold by reinsuring the crop through over-the-counter options.

Talking of grains, in the US a judge this week approved a USD 1.5 billion settlement plan proposed by Syngenta to compensate US growers and ethanol plants for the losses incurred when their corn was rejected by Chinese customs. This puts an end to a long-standing dispute in which Syngenta was accused of distributing a corn variety, Agrisure Viptera, before the Chinese government had approved it.

A new report by World Resources Institute said that the food industry’s ultimate challenge in the coming decades will be to produce the additional crops needed to feed a growing population while limiting the amount of land cleared to a minimum in order to not jeopardise the goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees. Increasing productivity through a significant boost in research funding is the most pressing goal, the report suggests, while also highlighting the need for strong environmental policies and changing consumer habits, such as switching from eating beef to chicken.

Have you ever heard that carrots improve your vision? Or that you should wait a few hours if you want to swim after a meal? Or that chewing-gum will stay in your stomach for seven years if you swallow it? Some curious food myths seem to have spread throughout the world, as this list of common or weird food legends compiled by Atlas Obscura revealed.

This summary was produced by ECRUU

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