Commodity Conversations Weekly Press Summary

The world seems to have moved on from the concept of dry January to Veganuary, a pledge to only eat vegan food during the first month of the year. Leaders from major groups such as Nestle, Marks & Spencers and Bloomberg even called on their employees to join in on the pledge. In the UK, an estimated 13 million people reduced their meat intake since the start of the pandemic, according to a survey by The Vegan Society. And not to be left behind, Mondelez is reportedly about to buy the remaining stake in vegan chocolate-bar maker Hu, according to sources who spoke with Reuters. 

A new study found that the meat with the lowest environmental impact was still worse than the plant with the highest impact, The Guardian reports. The research looked at organic meat and found that, as livestock grown organically takes longer to grow and ends up with less meat, it results in more manure and methane burps, a major source of livestock’s greenhouse gas emissions. If the environmental cost was factored into food prices, conventional meat should be 40% more expensive than it currently is, organic meat should be 25% more expensive but the price of plants would remain the same, the study found. 

In Europe, Euractiv reported a disagreement among plant breeders as to whether the EU’s new intellectual property plan could successfully accommodate the realities of the agricultural sector. Those in favour welcomed the plan, saying it will be key to encourage investments in innovations at a time when speed is key. Critics, however, argued that the system would only lead to more expensive seeds, market concentration and monopolies.  

ADM and Bunge are among a group of companies accused of sourcing palm oil from Indonesian mills that violate human and land rights, according to a report by Global Witness. The report said that the tradehouses were failing to address the issue even though these had been reported and that they were not doing enough checks. Both companies denied the allegations but said they were looking into it. 

A survey by Cargill showed that sustainability was a growing concern for customers and that the majority are willing to pay a premium for environmental and social responsible brands. “Consumer expectations are higher now than ever before,” a Cargill official said, especially when it comes to buying chocolate. A majority of those surveyed said they were readier to pay a premium for environmental sustainability than for low-sugar or organic chocolate. 

In the US, the government issued its first ever dietary guidelines for infants and toddlers, which recommends not to feed any added sugars to children younger than 2 years old and less than 10% of daily calorie intake after 2. The government rejected the recommendations made by the Agriculture Department and the Department of Health and Human Services to lower the recommended consumption of added sugar from 10% to 6% of calories consumed daily saying the evidence was insufficient to support stricter restrictions on sugar consumption. The government also rejected a proposal to lower the recommended limit on alcohol intake from two daily drinks for men and one daily drink for women to one daily drink for both women and men. 

In the UK, meanwhile, the government will be rolling out new restrictions on unhealthy food promotions from April 2022, including restricting where the foods can be placed in stores and banning discounted offers and free refills of sugary products. While more and more countries are looking into discouraging the consumption of junk food, a new discovery by archaeologists in Pompeii suggests that fast food may not be a modern invention. According to the Associated Press, archaeologists dug out a food stall dating back to 79 AD, with fragments suggesting that chicken, duck, snails and fava beans had been on the menu that day. 

If you’re not ready to go completely vegan, and switching to eating bugs doesn’t appeal to you either, but you still want to do your bit for the planet, you may want to consider getting your pet to eat bugs instead. Nestle Purina PetCare will be launching its pet food made from crickets in the US sometime this month. Insect-based pet food is already gaining grounds in Europe, with cricket a popular option as it needs 12 times less feed than cattle for the same amount of protein and vets in the UK are recognising that this is good quality protein too. It is likely to remain a premium product for the foreseeable future, however, given the higher costs of production. That’s why Nestle Purina PetCare will also be investing USD 550 million in expanding its pet food plant in Georgia, US. 

This summary was produced by ECRUU


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