Weekly News Summary

China’s banking regulator has told banks to stop selling to retail customers any investment products linked to commodities futures and to unwind any existing positions.

Chinese customs authorities are restricting corn imports into free trade zones. Importers may have cancelled up to 1 million mt of corn purchases as a result.

The International Grain Council has warned that global grain stocks could reach 595 million mt in 2021-22, the lowest level in seven years. The IGC says the drop is due to rising animal-feed demand and drought in Brazil.

In a sign that environmental concerns may soon affect trade flows, British supermarkets have announced that they will look at alternatives to Brazilian soy if Brazil passes new legislation to weaken environmental protection for the Amazon rainforest.

New Zealand’s Fonterra, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, has forecast that milk prices could hit a record over the next year due to surging demand from China.

Ceres Global Ag Corp has said it will build a $350 million canola-crushing facility near the US-Canadian border in Northgate, Saskatchewan.

A leaked internal company presentation shows that 60 per cent of Nestlé’s traditional packaged consumer food and beverage products do not meet internationally recognized health standards. Although many of their products will never be healthy, the company is on a mission to make other products healthier.

Mondelez has agreed to buy European snack maker Chipita SA for about $2 billion. Chipita has a portfolio of croissant and baked snack brands that will broaden Mondelez’s presence in the snack market.

European officials have rejected changes to food regulation that would have banned the use of dairy terminology and imagery to describe plant-based cheese and milk alternatives.

Despite being four to seven times the price of ordinary eggs, organic and bird-friendly speciality eggs account for about a third of the US egg market and are predicted to hit 70 per cent within five years. Eggs from birds grown on farms using regenerative agriculture are expected to be the next ‘big thing’.

According to a recent survey, about a third of US adults say they are making a conscious effort to consume less meat. Hispanic shoppers, in particular, are trying to curb their meat intake due to its relatively high cost.

New research from Michigan State University has found that while caffeine may help you stay awake after a night of sleep deprivation, it won’t necessarily help you get through the day’s tasks.

On the good news front, Twitter lit up last week with the reemergence of a 2016 mega-analysis that found that coffee reduces the risk for alcohol drinkers of developing liver cirrhosis. And the more coffee you drink, the better. One cup a day resulted in a 22 per cent lower risk of cirrhosis. With two cups, the risk dropped by 43 per cent, while it declined 57 per cent for three cups and 65 per cent with four cups.

Leading confectionery companies, including Mars, Mondelēz, Ferrero, Nestlé and Unilever, have called on the EU to reverse a decision to delay legislation governing cocoa supply chains in West Africa.

Nigeria may lose as much as $700 million in cocoa bean export earnings because of a shortage of jute bags. The Covid situation in India coupled with floods in Bangladesh has curtailed global jute production. Ivory Coast produces its own jute bags, while Ghana and Cameroon appear to have stocked up in advance.

US Farmers are looking at new oilseed crops to feed the anticipated surge in demand from renewable diesel. They may have found a candidate in ‘stinkweed’ that has been genetically modified to remove the stink. Carinata and camelina – known as false flax – are other candidates.

A federal judge in California has once again turned down a request by Bayer to settle potential future cancer claims against Roundup weed killer. The company is reported to be considering removing Roundup from the US residential market.

In shipping news, the cost of moving a 40-foot container from Shanghai to Rotterdam rose to $10,174 last week, up 3.1 per cent from a week earlier and up 485 per cent from a year ago, according to the Drewry World Container Index. Drewry’s composite index of eight major routes rose to $6,257, up 293 per cent from a year ago.

At the end of this month, Turkey will begin digging the 45-kilometre Canal Istanbul to link the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. The project will cost $15 billion and ease shipping traffic and the risk of accidents in the Bosporus.

In an opinion piece close to my heart, RealAgriculture writes, ‘it is not surprising that many of the best fed, most food-secure people in the history of the human species are convinced that the food system is broken. Most have never set foot on a farm or, at least, not on the sort of farm that provides the vast majority of food. Consumers have developed a romantic view of food production that chases the lore of a past that never existed in most of our farms’ lifetimes.

Finally, in what I initially thought was fake news (and I still have my doubts), Cargill is backing a plan to reduce methane emissions by making cows wear masks. Are cow nappies next?

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