Commodity Conversations Weekly Press Summary

Austria will soon become the first EU country to ban the use of glyphosate, the world’s most commonly used weedkiller, after a favourable vote in the lower house of parliament. The upper house is also expected to approve the ban in a vote next week. In response, the farmers’ union Copa-Cogeca urged the EU to declare the provision as unlawful, considering that the European Commission approved the herbicide up to 2022. The cooperative suggested alternative ideas to legally limit its use, such as reducing private applications. 

In the US, on the other hand, a federal judge said he said he was planning to reduce the USD 80 million fine a California verdict imposed on Bayer. The group – which sells glyphosate as Roundup since it purchased Monsanto – has lost three cases concerning Roundup so far. One was already reduced from USD 289 million to USD 78.5 million, while Bayer is planning to challenge the third which involved USD 2.055 billion in compensation. A total of 13,400 people are currently suing Bayer over Roundup.  

American pork producers think they can deal with diseases such as the African Swine Fever with a novel technique: using genetic modifications to develop animals resistant to diseases. Although the technology is still a few years away, the FDA reiterated that it will not let the USDA regulate the approval of genetically engineered (GE) animals, despite calls from farm lobbyists who argue that the FDA is too slow. The FDA has only approved one GE animal so far: the AquAdvantage salmon, developed to grow faster. 

The commodity groups with the most soybean crushing assets in China are expected to be the hardest hit by the swine fever outbreak, while demand is expected to grow in other regions as livestock producers will boost their output to meet the extra demand from China. The head of Bunge noted that only 15% of its crushing capacity was in China, compared to 33% in South America and 27% in Europe. In contrast, ADM with its 25% stake in Wilmar – one of the largest soy processors in China – might be more exposed. Nonetheless, the EU and South America will not be able to produce enough pork to meet the demand from China, which consumes half of the world’s pork. US exports will be needed – even with tariffs. So in the longer term, ADM and Cargill, who have most of their assets in the US, might also benefit

ADM is launching a new system to improve the performance of shrimp farms in Asia, called BIOSIPEC. Through controlled feed and aeration mechanisms, farmers can improve environmental performance and boost profits, the firm said. In Europe, Univar signed an agreement to distribute seaweed ingredients developed by Seaweed & Co. Seaweed products are gaining in popularity because they meet a number of consumer trends: sourced sustainably in the Scottish Outer Hebrides and with six EU approved health claims. Seaweed is being used in various foods and beverages as a salt replacement, flavour booster or nutritional source. 

People with a high consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, including fruit juices and sweetened tea, have a higher chance of developing cancer, according to a paper by the Universite Sorbonne published in the British Medical Journal. The researchers noted that no causal link was identified and that other factors, such as lifestyle, could be the reason for the higher risk. They did suggest that the impact on blood sugar levels could be part of the explanation, as they called for more to be done to tackle sugar consumption. 

Eating candy has just become slightly more environmentally friendly after Nestle launched a new paper wrapper for its Yes! Snack bar that is recyclable. The firm committed to using only recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025. Similarly, Coca-Cola announced that it will use plastic bottles in Australia that are 100% recycled. Other beverage makers, such as  Lucozade Ribena Suntory have been using 100% recycled bottles for a while, but Coca Cola highlighted that it was much harder for carbonated beverages because of the pressure involved. 

Pepsi is taking a different direction and will start selling its Aquafina water in aluminium cans in the US. Some argue that aluminium can be more environmentally friendly than plastics because a lot more of it is recycled. On the other hand, critics say the impact of the open-pit mines needed to source bauxite, along with the energy-intensive aluminium extraction, cancel out the effect. In the end, however, experts say that nothing beats tap water. 

The most exciting Coca-Cola news this week came from McDonalds who started selling Coca-Cola chicken wings in China. Apparently, cooking chicken wings in Cola is not uncommon in China. 

This summary was produced by ECRUU.

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