Commodity Conversations Weekly Press Summary

ECRUU is turning 5!

We’re making some (exciting!) changes and we’ve been debating whether to continue doing this weekly report. 

What do you think? Let us know in the comments if you want us to continue.

Brazil’s agribusiness logistical map is about to be turned “upside down”. Ports in the Amazon region, the so-called Arco Norte, are expected to handle over half of the country’s soy and corn exports, up from 23% in 2010 and overtaking for the first time ports in the Southeast and South. It costs USD 300/mt to transport grain from Mato Grosso to Santos Port, double what it costs to take the grain to Miritituba in Para where it is taken in barges to the Port of Vila do Conde. 

Export costs could fall further if the plan for Ferrograo, a railroad connecting Mato Grosso to Para, goes ahead. Another railway project, the Nova Ferroeste, would connect Maracaju to the Port of Paranagua and help reduce transport costs by a third. Both projects are opposed by environmentalists but an official argued that one 100-wagon train would replace 357 trucks. The government also invited the private sector to submit projects to create a new route from Sao Paulo to the Port of Santos. The project also attracted objections from environmentalists in the past but an official said the idea would be to create a zero carbon highway. Analysts said logistics bottlenecks were the biggest challenge for Brazilian agricultural exports but investments such as these will give the country a competitive edge. 

On the other hand, local media reported a shortage of grain storage space last week in Brazil’s Mato Grosso. Despite recent investments, the country’s total grain storage deficit increased from 12 million mt in 2010 to 94 million mt in 2019. Ongoing dry conditions combined with stronger domestic demand have pushed up the domestic price of corn. One corn ethanol producer warned that corn was so expensive it didn’t make sense to make ethanol from it at the moment. The situation is expected to get tighter with many analysts downgrading the corn harvest due to the drought. 

Chicago corn futures rallied to an 8-year high last week. The USDA downgraded the US’ end of year corn stocks to a 7-year low due to higher demand from the ethanol sector as well as strong export demand. It also reduced the forecast for planned corn planting next year. Analysts expect prices will continue going up – fertiliser prices have risen by close to 100% in the past year and there continues to be strong demand from the ethanol and export sides. However, they flagged that China bought a lot of corn which it hasn’t shipped yet. 

Nestle is the latest to join the Rimba Collective, a USD 1 billion project that aims to protect and even reforest some 500,000ha involved in the Southeast Asian palm oil supply chain. Launched by Lestari Capital, the project already involves the likes of Wilmar and PepsiCo. Nestle said “we are evolving from a no-deforestation strategy to a ‘forest-positive’ one.” 

Olam reported that 2020 was one of its best years ever. The tradehouse saw a 36% increase in operating earnings to USD 678 million despite the pandemic. On top of that, it announced it was now able to trace all of the cocoa it sources directly, which represents 12% of the world’s cocoa beans. 

ADM expects that its plant-based protein business will overtake its crop trading business in size by 2050. The company said it was already the world’s biggest plant-based protein provider. ADM is planning to invest more in plant-based protein in China where it is seeing an uptick in demand. China is looking to boost food safety and reduce carbon intensive farming, which will contribute to the country’s plant-based protein market growing from USD 10 billion in 2018 to USD 14.5 billion in 2025, ADM noted.

There is talk that Impossible Foods is planning an IPO which could fetch USD 10 billion. The group saw USD 7 billion in retail sales in 2020, up by a third when compared to the previous year. Prospects are good, Reuters noted, given that Beyond Meat’s share price increased fourfold since its IPO two years ago. 

The Good Food Institute estimated that a record USD 3.1 billion was invested in the alternative meat market in 2020. However, US sales of meat still increased by 19% in the past year. But this is not all bad. A new study found that the US beef industry reduced its carbon footprint by 40% between the 1960s and 2018 while making 66% more beef – making it the most sustainable beef production system in the world. 

Finally, not all vegan burgers were born equal. You can find out here which one is the best for the environment. 

This summary was produced by ECRUU

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9 Replies to “Commodity Conversations Weekly Press Summary”

  1. I am a commodity arbitrator and thus as such deal with issues years after they originally arose so I am not ” at the coal face”
    I find your weekly reports most informative in advising of current issues
    So keep up the good work

  2. Pls don’t stop! Commodity conversations are a great little weekly summary of pertinent industry developments in the Agri space. Very much valued ..

  3. Yes, I want the weekly report to continue. It inspires me a lot. I am looking forward to read and enjoy it every week. Thank you for making these wonderful pieces!

  4. I know the feeling of commitment to writing a report on a regular basis especially with no back up.
    I enjoy the weekly report but if you did it more on an irregular basis it would still be a great read and would look forward to the arrival.

  5. Hi, I enjoy reading this newsletter every week and would definitely miss it if you were to stop publishing!

  6. For what it’s worth, I’ve just started following this blog and find the press summaries and blog conversations to be useful. I’ve started teaching a course on commodity markets at the University of Maryland, having retired from USDA’s Economic Research Service, and am looking for ways to make use of the material. Thanks

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