Commodity Conversations Weekly Press Summary

A former executive from Blackstone has joined Louis Dreyfus as the head of food innovation and downstream strategy, a new role that was created as part of the group’s strategy to reduce its dependence on sourcing and logistics and expand towards food processing and ingredients. The CEO said that Louis Dreyfus will be focusing on the fast-growing region of Asia, especially when it comes to investing into processing, and that they would also be investing in startups to find the next generation of protein. In a rare interview, the group’s chairperson said the plan was for the company to become a diversified food and nutrition company, in addition to trading, and that she would consider taking on partners or even doing an IPO if it made sense.

A Bermuda Court last week approved Noble’s restructuring through a local insolvency process which will allow the group to avoid liquidation. During the hearing, company officials said there were no plans to list the new company on an exchange.

Cargill announced the launch of “Protect our Planet”, a new sustainability program which aims to rid all of its cocoa supply chain of deforestation by 2030. The sustainability project will include Brazil, Indonesia, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Ghana, Cargill said, adding that its indirect supply chain would also come under the scope of its Cocoa Promise programme. In Ghana, where the company works closely with the government to improve sustainability in the cocoa sector, Cargill achieved 100% traceability. And in the Ivory Coast, Cargill has managed to map 80,000 of the 120,000 farms involved in its direct supply chain. Similarly, the Swiss chocolate producer Barry Callebaut this year bought 44% of its cocoa beans and 44% of its non-cocoa agricultural raw materials through sustainability programmes, an increase from 36% last year and close to its 50% target for next year. In addition, 12% of its direct suppliers have a system to monitor child labour.

Nestle Waters North America is planning to use at least 50% recycled plastic in its US water bottles by 2025. The company invested USD 6 million in the Closed Loop Fund to improve recycling programs, including a USD 1.5 million investment in an integrated manufacturer of post-consumer recycled PET. Similarly, Coca-Cola announced it would be financing Dutch recycling company Ioniqa Technologies to help recycle PET plastics. Coca-Cola is hoping that this will help achieve its goal of recycling half of its packaging materials by 2030. Coca-Cola is the world’s worst plastic polluter, according to research by the “Break Free From Plastic” movement which looked at almost 190,000 pieces of plastics trash collected in 42 countries between August and September.

Several EU countries have been issuing waivers to the cover ban on the use of neonicotinoids (a class of insecticide) following pressure from farmers, especially sugar beet farmers, who are saying there is currently no alternative. The ban was passed in April this year in a bid to protect wild and domestic bees. A new study in the US, however, suggests that research and policy are too focused on protecting the honey bee at the detriment of other local wild bees. The paper argued that scientists know very little about wild bees in the US – of which there are an estimated 4,000 species – and therefore do not know how to protect them. The study points out the inherent risks of relying on a single type of bee.

Another study, meanwhile, argued that the negative image around GMO technology is slowing down efforts to improve food security in Africa. The study looked at one type of GM corn and found that it could help farmers in African countries which face pests, especially the fall armyworm that is devastating crops across the continent. Similarly, a scientist in Europe who is trying to edit the genes of wheat so that it doesn’t produce carcinogenic chemicals when it is cooked said that policy in the European Union is holding back his progress. He explained that gene editing was subject to the same rules as gene modification which made it almost impossible to commercialise.

After years of trial and error, the company JUST has launched Just Egg, an egg substitute made from mung beans that is said to taste exactly like eggs, along with all the properties – such as foaming, gelation etc – of its animal counterpart. According to an analysis by the New Food Economy, this revolutionary substitute, combined with California’s recently introduced ‘Proposition 12’ which bans the sale of eggs from chicken in cages from 2021, could mark the beginning of the end of the industrial egg market in the US. Just Egg is also expected to disrupt the 430 billion egg per year market in China, where it will launch in early 2019. And to take the technology one step further, JUST announced it will be making cell-based Wagyu beef. Bon appetit!

Commodity Conversations would like to wish our readers a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Our weekly press summary will resume on January 3.

This summary was produced by ECRUU

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