Weekly News Summary

The ongoing drought in the Americas continues to cause concern. Water levels in the Parana River are still falling, delaying Argentina’s soybean shipments. In California, a shortage of water is threatening the state’s almond industry. California grows about 80 per cent of the world’s almonds. The CME believes that their water futures contract could help.

But just when you thought the situation couldn’t get any worse, swarms of grasshoppers are now devouring crops across the US mid-west. The drought has provided ideal conditions for grasshopper eggs to hatch and survive.

Mexico is also suffering a severe drought but hopes that the upcoming rainy season will replenish parched reservoirs. The country gets between 50 and 80 per cent of its annual rainfall between July and September.

Bloomberg wonders whether weather problems will strengthen the supercycle but complains that ‘Commodity Traders Harvest Billions While Prices Rise for Everyone Else’. General Mills is undoubtedly worried about rising prices. The company expects total input cost inflation of about 7 per cent during the current fiscal year.

A new study predicts that climate change could result in a ten per cent fall in corn, rice, soybean and wheat crop yields by 2050 and that this figure could rise to 25 per cent by the end of the century.  The researchers argue that agriculture is falling behind on climate adaptation.

Another study finds that food – and GHG emissions from the farmers that produce it – are killing us. It estimates that 4.1 million deaths in 2018 were associated with dietary health risks, 6.0 million with overweight or obesity and that 730,000 infant deaths resulted from malnutrition. Researchers estimated that air pollution caused by food production lead to about 530,000 premature deaths per year globally, with 85 per cent occurring in Asia.

Bloomberg has an interesting video that asks whether we need a new green revolution in agriculture. The news agency argues that an excellent way to start the process would be to reconfigure subsidy programmes to incentivize farmers to improve soil health and build resilience to extreme weather.

But the revolution is already ongoing. Reuters highlights what one company, in this case, Olam, is doing to improve the food journey.

Politico questions US government plans to encourage farmers to capture carbon, arguing that the carbon price is too low to make it worth their while. Farmers receive around $15 per ton of sequestered carbon, but the price needs to be above $30 for the scheme to pick up momentum.

EU ministers last week backed a provisional agreement to revamp the bloc’s Common Agricultural Policy to help promote greener farming methods. Environmentalists called on the European Parliament to vote down the deal; they say that the reforms do not go far enough.

Major food manufacturers have signed the EU Code of Conduct on Responsible Food Business and Marketing Practices, a voluntary code to support ‘the sustainable transition of our food systems’. The Code of Conduct is part of the EU’s new Farm to Fork strategy, but Food Navigator asks whether it will deliver on its lofty ambitions.

The European Commission will propose legislation in 2023 to phase out and eventually ban farming caged animals, possibly by 2027. The European Parliament had earlier voted to support the ban.

Bloomberg takes a long look at how high prices and changing consumer tastes negatively affect global meat demand. The meat industry will face more competition from Nature’s Fynd, a start-up company that ferments a volcanic microbe from Yellowstone National Park to produce protein.

The Guardian asks what foods we, as consumers, should be eating to save the planet. Grass-fed beef and lamb top the list, followed by oats, locally grown vegetables, mussels, pulses, seaweed, venison, and waste food.

The WWF has published a new study that argues that insect protein in animal feed could replace 20 per cent of the UK’s soya imports by 2050, cutting deforestation and GHG emissions. The WWF calls on the UK government to follow the EU’s lead and permit insect protein in pig and poultry feed.

Euronews has published an extract from Planet Palm: How Palm Oil Ended Up in Everything-and Endangered the World by Jocelyn C. Zuckerman. The excerpt focuses on the murky world of lobbying. Meanwhile, Malaysia’s palm oil producers are coping with a labour shortage that may leave some trees unharvested.

Although the European Commission may include shipping in its carbon trading scheme in 2023, the FT asks whether Brussels will be brave enough to extend the project to all ships coming into EU ports, rather than just those travelling between European countries.

Meanwhile, Quartz looks at the container shortage and writes that the three Chinese manufacturers that supply about 80 per cent of the world’s shipping containers are operating at full capacity. It argues that demand still outstrips supply and that inventories of new containers remain low. An executive at Maersk is more optimistic, predicting that ‘the container shortage is temporary in nature’.

Senators from the US farm belt have introduced three bills to promote biofuels in the face of a growing threat from electric vehicles. One would provide $1 billion in grants to pay for pumps and storage tanks with higher gasoline blends of biofuels. A second would give a $200 per-car tax credit for automakers who make flex-fuel vehicles. A third would provide fuel blenders and retailers with a tax credit for each gallon that they sell of fuel containing 15 per cent or more of ethanol.

Finally, US biofuel and corn industry groups have asked the Environmental Protection Agency to use restraint in its use of waivers exempting refiners from their biofuel blending obligations.

© Commodity Conversations ® 2021

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *