Weekly Press Summary

With wheat prices soaring, Bioceres, an Argentinian company, hopes that the world will change its mind about genetically modified wheat. Consumers have accepted genetically modified soybeans and corn, mainly because they are fed first to animals. Still, they have pushed back on genetically modified wheat, possibly because we consume it directly. Brazil’s government is due to vote next month whether to allow GM wheat; if it does, Bioceres will have its first market.

Rising vegoil prices, along with the US’s planned expansion in renewable diesel, are encouraging traders to expand their processing capacity. Cargill has announced that it will build an additional canola-crushing plant in Canada, adding one million tonnes to its Canadian capacity. Viterra has also announced that it will have a new canola plant up and running by 2024. Cargill is also investing directly in the production of renewable diesel with a new plant in Hastings, Nebraska, a joint venture with the Love group of companies.

We reported last week that skyrocketing corn prices have led to (perhaps overly optimistic) suggestions that China’s livestock farmers could replace imported corn and soy with domestically produced grains and oilseeds. This week, the Chinese government, concerned about a recent uptick in African Swine Fever, has announced new rules that control the movement of live hogs within the country. They could completely reshape the domestic pig-rearing industry.

But it is not just the domestic hog market that China is reshaping; COFCO’s growing importance in China’s imports is reshaping the competitive landscape for global grain traders.

Closer to home, Nestlé published its strongest quarterly results in a decade, primarily driven by solid demand in coffee. While presenting the results, the company’s CEO put a strong emphasis on sustainability, arguing that consumers now insist on it. Putting words into action, Nestlé confirmed that it is joining LEAF – the Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest finance Coalition – a public-private project that aims to raise at least $1 billion in initial financing to reduce or reverse deforestation.

Meanwhile, Nestlé has confirmed that it is in discussions to buy US-based nutritional supplement maker The Bountiful Company.

Not everyone is as bullish on coffee demand as Nestlé. Neumann, the world’s biggest coffee trader, expects demand to remain under pressure as Covid lockdowns come and go. There is, however, hope for coffee-lovers. A new wild coffee variety has been discovered that grows in warmer climates and is less vulnerable to climate change. It also, apparently, tastes delicious.

Still looking to the future, New Food Magazine has made some predictions about agricultural supply chains. They will increasingly be driven by data and technology, with a strong dose of transparency thrown in. Neither snack foods nor pet foods will be excluded from these trends.

Trade houses continue to adapt accordingly. This week, ADM opened a new plant-based food innovation laboratory in Singapore while Cargill announced an investment in Bflike, a Dutch start-up in plant-based meat and fish alternatives.  Even Epicurious, the online food magazine, made headlines (and undoubtedly some enemies) when they announced that they would no longer publish beef-based recipes.

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