Commodity Conversations Weekly Press Summary

Germany has gone all out to contain the African Swine Fever (ASF) which was detected this month in a few wild boars but already cost the country a ban on exports to China. Even though no commercial pigs have tested positive, one expert estimated that Germany lost a USD 1 billion market in just one day from import bans. He calculated that the world’s pig population dropped by at least 25% because of ASF, whereas China lost about a third of its pig population since 2018. The US and Spain could fill in the gap but an analyst warned that the situation was very volatile. A second Covid-19 wave could have a drastic impact on both pork consumption and supply. 

China is also asking importers to be careful about sourcing frozen food and seafood from countries with big Covid-19 outbreaks. The government said it had found the virus in imported cold-chain food. The WHO still maintains that one was unlikely to catch the virus through food. 

The growing demand for salmon has led to its wild population dropping by half in the last 50 years. Beyond overfishing, sea lice, which spreads from fish farms to the wild, also contributed to the fall in population. US startup Wildtype is working to solve the issue with their lab-grown salmon. For the moment, it cost them USD 200 to make a spicy salmon roll but they hope to commercialise their salmon within the next 5 years. 

US-based plant-based protein company Puris is hoping to solve the issue of the high sodium content in alternative burgers with its new low-sodium pea protein. The CEO explained that plant-based burgers have much more salt than meat burgers, with one Beyond Burgers containing 16% of our daily allowance. The group, which will be doubling its pea protein production by next year, is also launching lupin flour and pea syrup, to be used in keto products and as a substitute for corn syrups. Similarly, ADM launched a series of plant-based proteins designed to improve the “sensory appeal” of plant-based meat, including textured pea proteins and textured wheat protein. 

The British Retail Consortium calculated that new import tariffs as a result of a no-deal Brexit could cost households an additional GBP 112 in food expenses, and probably more once the administrative costs are also taken into account. It explained that the UK’s food supply chain works on very little margin, which means most of the additional costs would be passed on to consumers. Besides, the recently launched Future British Standards Coalition is lobbying against any lowering of food standards after Brexit. A specific point of contention is the import of chlorinated chicken from the US – something opposed by many in the UK. 

Some 200 global food suppliers joined a voluntary coalition committing to reduce their food waste by half by 2030. An insight by Food Dive, however, points out that 80% of the world’s food waste happens in supermarkets, restaurants and with the end consumer. Nevertheless, it expects the commitment to eventually happen as it will help boost these companies’ bottom line. One solution is being tested in Kenya, where a farm is feeding food waste to black soldier fly larvae which will then be used for animal feed. 

If fighting waste was not enough, Walmart declared its commitment to becoming a “regenerative company.” The CEO Explained that “Regenerating means restoring, renewing, and replenishing, in addition to conserving.” Concretely, the target is to reach zero net emissions by 2040, restore 50 million acres of land and 1 million sq m of ocean by 2030. 

Funding and incentivising sustainable farming is a growing issue, one that a new fund hopes to solve in Brazil. Saff, the product of a public-private partnership, will start with USD 68 million in 2021, aims to reach USD 1.4 billion by 2026 and will target farmers who follow the crop-livestock-forest integration on at least 5% of their area. In the UK, McDonald’s tied up with McCain to set up a GBP 1 million fund, called the Sustainable MacFries Fund, to help potato growers become more sustainable.

We live in an era where we are used to questioning the things we’ve been doing but here’s one you probably didn’t see coming: you shouldn’t use boiling water to make tea. An expert explained that the habit of boiling developed when water was unsafe to drink. Instead, he suggests using water at 50-65 degrees for green tea and 80 degrees for most breakfast teas. Otherwise, he warned, your tea will taste “no better than cabbage water.”

This summary was produced by ECRUU

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