Commodity Conversations Weekly Press Summary

Consumers of Swedish vegan milk company Oatly have called for a boycott of the brand after they realised that it had raised, earlier this year, USD 200 million from Blackstone Group, a group also known to invest in companies linked to the deforestation of the Amazon. In a typical case of Chinese whisper, Vice reported that Oatly had to defend itself and clarify that it was not, itself, involved in deforesting the Amazon. The company, which has been valued at USD 2 billion, said the investment was, actually, really good news for the plant-based food industry. And regardless of the PR fiasco, the demand for oat milk in the US increased by 290% between March and June this year. 

Israeli startup Redefine Meat is eyeing the whole-cut steaks meat segment – the highest margin segment in the meat industry – and working on a 3D-printed vegan alternative, with options including “roasted” and “grilled.” The printers should be able to produce 250kg of meat every day, the equivalent of a whole cow, the CEO said, adding that he would start selling them to select restaurants by the end of the year. 

US-based company Bond Pet Foods, meanwhile, is betting that vegan pet owners want their pets to be vegan too. The company said it had found a way to make pet food from lab-grown chicken. It will take some time – by 2023 – for it to be rolled out commercially, but it said its cultured-meat dog treat has been a success. 

In China, Pepsi’s Quaker oatmeal brand tied up with the pharmaceutical group Pan Gaoshou to launch products that combine health, local culture and traditional medicine. Their first two products are Hericium Erinaceus (a type of fungus also known as lion’s mane) oatmeal and donkey-hide gelatin oatmeal. As one analyst put it, it’s the new way of consuming traditional medicine

In Oceania, Coca-Cola Amatil invested in cryptocurrency payment provider Centrepay as part of the group’s plan to allow consumers to buy drinks in vending machines in Australia and New Zealand using cryptocurrency. In Europe, Coca-Cola European Partners will be moving to 100% recycled plastic (rPET) bottles in Norway and the Netherlands over 2020/21, with the shift already taking place in Sweden. A company official explained that local deposit return schemes were key in the process. 

Nestle tried a different approach in the Philippines where it said it had reached “plastic neutrality”, by which it means that it picked up and processed just as much plastic as it sells. In Switzerland, and similar to Coca-Cola’s local deposit return schemes, Nestle is testing reusable and refillable systems for petcare and soluble coffee products. In the US, Nestle also doubled its use of rPET for water products from 2019 to 17%. 

Nestle is also doing corporate and local education campaigns to encourage people to recycle. Taking things one step further, and not losing sight of its focus on scientifically-backed health food, the company just launched, an education platform about Age-Associated Cellular Decline (AACD). The concept is to offer consumers nutritional options to reduce the process of ageing

Cargill is pushing for a carbon pricing system to help the shipping industry – which accounts for 3% of global carbon emissions – meet its decarbonisation targets. A company official explained that carbon pricing was necessary to make the new technology and fuels viable, adding that bulk vessels travel to hundreds of ports around the world which will require significant investments. As such, Maersk added, the whole industry needs to get involved 

An analyst at JP Morgan Asset Management said that investments were already flowing into technological innovations that improve fuel consumption, adding that the coronavirus had not affected the investment flow. He added that ships would likely switch to travelling slower to reduce fuel consumption, which should also push up rates by reducing vessel availability. Investing in the Internet of Things (IoT) is another way to improve fuel consumption thanks to smart meters and better data analysis. A report noted that the maritime industry was the sector that has shown the biggest switch to using IoT, which has helped improve efficiency and reduce costs.

At a time when even The Michelin Guide is trying to figure out ways to “remain relevant,” fine dining restaurants are wondering whether people will still be willing to pay significant premiums to eat out. One restaurant making that bet is California-based the French Laundry which just launched a dining experience priced at just USD 850 per head. 

This summary was produced by ECRUU

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