Commodity Conversations Weekly Press Summary

For the first time in its 169-year history, Louis Dreyfus will receive funds from an outside investor as the chairwoman agreed to sell a 45% stake to ADQ, an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund. The deal included a long-term contract to supply commodities to the UAE which could make Dreyfus “the champion of food and agri-supply in the Middle East”, a consultant noted. Louis Dreyfus has been looking for partners for a while to repay some of its debts and had engaged in negotiations with Glencore and Bunge.

This would not be the first time a government fund invests in a major agricultural trade house, as Singapore’s Temasek Holdings is the majority owner of Olam International while the country’s sovereign wealth fund is the largest shareholder in Bunge. Moreover, the coronavirus pandemic accelerated efforts by countries dependent on food imports looking to be more self-sufficient. Abu Dhabi’s investment in Louis Dreyfus will be accompanied by a series of partnerships to study the production of food in desert climates. NanoRacks announced that it will create a space research center in the desert country to develop agricultural practices in extreme weather conditions. 

Unilever suggested that it was in no hurry to resume advertising on Facebook and Twitter, as the firm left the social media platforms back in July. A director explained that alternatives like Snapchat, Pinterest and YouTube were showing promising results. Unilever is also launching its first pet care products, starting with a launch in Brazil – the second-largest pet market after the US. For its part, Nestle is betting on the rising demand for environmentally-friendly pet food and is launching a line of Purina made with insect proteins

Data published this week confirmed that Brazil’s carbon emissions were up 9.6% on year in 2019, mostly due to the accelerating deforestation. The country was able to reduce emissions in 2004-12 and keep them stable in 2018. Brazil has a great potential to reduce its emissions, although the current government is not expected to push for the right policies. In addition, the new US President is not expected to prioritise trade negotiations with Brazil. The Democratic President-elect is expected to follow the EU’s example and include provisions to protect the environment in any new trade deal which could put Brazil at a disadvantage. The US could also join the list of importers looking to impose tariffs on countries or products linked to deforestation, a Brazilian lawmaker said.

A new study published in the Science Journal estimated that agricultural emissions alone are on track to stop us from meeting the climate goals under the Paris Agreement. The main reason is the increase in consumption, both on the individual and global levels, along with a shift towards more animal-based products. At the same time, a study conducted in Ireland showed that current policies were not effectively addressing rising rates of obesity and other non-communicable diseases. 

Experts argue that a lower food consumption overall, along with a lower consumption of meat, would address both climate and health problems. This is increasing the appeal of a meat tax. The UK Health Alliance on Climate Change (UKHACC) argued that if food producers were unable to voluntarily act to reduce the consumption of meat by 2025, the government should step in with a tax. A professor said such a tax would highlight the link between planetary and human health. 

Another popular idea is to implement labels outlining the carbon impact of food products. Restaurant chains in the US are experimenting with the solution, while food producers are also looking at the idea. Some suggested this could create a whole new type of diet, possibly called “climatarians”. The concept is not so straightforward though, as Tesco found out when it shelved its plan back in 2012. Measuring the carbon impact of food has become simpler since, but nuances remain that will be hard to convey on a label. For one, the seasonality of ingredients used is key to measure the carbon impact. 

With Thanksgiving approaching in the US, restaurants are preparing to honour to new President by focusing on what he has called “the best sandwich in America”: Capriotti’s Bobbie sandwich with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. It almost sounds as delicious as the famous “moist-maker”: Monica Gellar’s Thanksgiving left-over sandwich. 

This summary was produced by ECRUU

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