Commodity Conversations Weekly Press Summary

Cargill will soon be opening a non-medicated premix production facility in Ohio, USA, as part of its efforts to find a solution to healthy livestock without antibiotics. The head of the group’s Premix and Nutrition business explained that nutrition was a key part in the transition away from drugs, adding that a healthier animal produced better meat and dairy. “Consumers really drive the supply chain,” he said, adding “The environment forces us to branch out far beyond just nutrients and ingredients.” Taking the move into ‘agtech’ one step further, Cargill has opened its first beauty lab in Shanghai, China, which will use the group’s expertise in food to develop sustainable and nature-derived products for the Asian market. In Russia, Cargill invested RUB 1.8 billion (USD 27 million) to expand the production of fats, oils and animal feeds in the Tula region as well as to set up a technology cluster.

Separately, Cargill has developed a new technology to give chocolate products the ‘right’ colour by using fewer chemicals, allowing to get previously difficult to obtain reddish and yellowish tones. The company explained that colour was very important for consumers and that this new method would make it much easier for food companies. Mondelez’ venture arm SnackFutures, meanwhile, has invested in a startup called Uplift which makes so-called “gut-healthy” foods and ingredients. Mondelez’ CEO said the aim was to re-invent snacks so that they have an active health component, “something that does not exist today.”

Olam reiterated its commitment to restore forests and fight deforestation as part of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative (CFI) across its supply chain, with a focus on West Africa. The company already used its supplier mapping to distribute 1.2 million trees in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. The aim is to “re-imagine the future of global agriculture where prosperous farmers (…) and healthy ecosystems can coexist,” the company said. The initiative fits well in the UN’s Decade on Ecosystem Restoration launched earlier this month. It hopes to restore 350 million ha of degraded land by 2030 to enhance food security and biodiversity.

In the same vein, China’s President said last week that he would not compromise the country’s health and environment for short term economic gain. The state market regulatory administration announced a new policy which made officials liable for issues around food safety, a major move to crackdown on the number of recent food scandals and improve the current food and drug safety standards.

The US’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced they have finally agreed on a way to deal with cell-cultured meat. The FDA will regulate the collection and growth of cultured cells while the processing of those cells into meat, as well as labeling, will come under the USDA. While some wonder whether cell-cultured meat is commercially viable yet, some environmentalists have questioned whether the fuel used to power the labs is much better than the methane released by livestock. Regardless, the anti-meat trend seems to be getting increasingly popular. New York City’s mayor just announced “Meatless Mondays” for schools starting 2019/20. The program should reach out to almost a million students.

The US is set to get its first GMO seafood after the FDA gave AquaBounty the green light last week to start raising GMO salmon eggs in the country. The company, which is already implanted in Canada, had been blocked from the US market because of issues around labeling. The USDA’s bioengineered labeling guidance released in December will allow consumers to differentiate but opponents say the labels aren’t enough. AquaBounty’s CEO, on the other hand, pointed out that their salmon would be much fresher than the imported kind.  

A study by the University of California found that fish stocks of the most commercially consumed fish had on average dropped by 4% between 1930-2010 but some areas, notably in the North Sea, had lost close to 30% of their stocks. Overfishing, warming temperatures and acidification of the ocean are to blame. The black sea bass in the Atlantic, however, seems to be thriving in the warmer water. In a bid to make fishing more sustainable, US group Bumble Bee Foods has tied up with a German technology company to launch a platform tracking yellowfin tuna using blockchain technology. Consumers will have access to the whole supply chain by scanning a QR code on the retail package and see for themselves that the products conform to the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation.
Finally, winemakers are looking into replacing the traditional cylindrical glass bottles with Garçon Winesflat bottles made from recycled PET. The startup said that it can pack 10 bottles in the space of 4 traditionally sized bottled and that each bottle is 87% lighter, thereby reducing carbon emissions by 500g/bottle.

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