Commodity Conversations Weekly Press Summary

Wilmar topped a 50-company list as the Singapore-based public company with the highest human rights disclosure standards. The group was ranked second – right after Sime Darby – in the ASEAN category. Wilmar’s chief sustainability officer pointed out that several of the highest ranking companies were involved in the palm oil business which showed that the industry was responding to consumer concern and becoming more sustainable.

Olam has issued USD 120 million in five-year fixed-rate notes to nine private investors and will use the funds to service its debt, among other things, the company said. Meanwhile, Cargill announced it was investing in cultured meat startup Aleph Farms, marking its third investment in the non-animal protein business after investing in Memphis Meats and Puris.

Nestle Brazil will be launching 25 new projects in 2019 and continues to look for potential acquisitions with a focus on organic and healthy products. A company official added that producing organic food on a large scale was a challenge, however.

In the US, organic food sales reached a record USD 48 million in 2018, up 6% on year. The Organic Trade Association said that thanks to millennials and social media the USDA Organic seal was becoming increasingly important. “Organic is now considered mainstream… In 2018, there was a notable shift in the mindset,” the association said. Interestingly, the organic market is also affected by the shift to vegetable protein with sales of organic animal protein almost stagnant.

In the UK, the ice cream brand Wall’s has tied up with two NGOs to launch a “Vanilla for Change” program to support sustainable vanilla production in Madagascar, help the farmers involved in growing the crop as well as support education in the UK. Each ice cream will have a “Track Your Impact” bar code that consumers can scan to get more information on the program. “Vanilla for Change is the first step to demonstrate our commitment to fairness across our supply chain,” Wall’s said.

Coca-Cola Amatil will be setting up some 10,000 rooftop solar panels across its bottling plants in Australia. This will help the group reduce carbon emissions but also save some AUD 1.3 million in electricity costs. By 2020, the aim is for 60% of the energy used to be from renewables or from low-carbon sources, up from 56.3% in 2018. Separately, Netflix has tied up with Coca-Cola to promote the former’s new season of Stranger Things as well as the latter’s relaunch of its New Coke. There won’t be any straightforward Coke ads on Netflix, however. Instead, the brand’s presence will be felt in the series.

US-based sustainable agriculture group Indigo Ag is working on building a ‘living map’ of the global food supply through satellite imaging and geospatial intelligence. The company said that the aim was to improve forecasting and market transparency to reduce the volatility and uncertainty of farming. The startup topped CNBC’s list of most disruptive companies last week.

A new study found that even if you’re careful when choosing your pre-prepared meals and look out for items that are low in sugar, falt and salt, you’re still likely to be consuming 500 calories per day more when eating ultra-processed foods. This is because the body produces fewer appetite suppressing hormone when ingesting processed food which means people tend to eat more of it. The scientists are not sure why this is the case, although they guessed it could be because processed food is easier and faster to eat, making it harder for the brain to register the quantities. Romania is one country looking to actively get people to shift to a healthier diet. The government just announced it would reduce the Value Added Tax (VAT) on healthy and local fresh foods from 9% to 5% to promote local agriculture and help reduce rising obesity rates.

The US Food and Drug Administration is set to start looking at how to regulate the cannabis component CBD in food on a federal level at the end of this month. Some food companies, such as Mondelez, already said they were looking into adding it to snacks and the substance is becoming increasingly popular in drinks and sweets. A Rabobank report argued that the new trend was blurring the line between the pharmaceutical and food markets. But with a 2018 study suggesting that almost half of Americans were keen to try edible cannabis, the market is expected to grow exponentially.

This summary was produced by ECRUU

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