Weekly Media Monitor

The Rockefeller Foundation has joined the crowd wanting to transform the US food supply system. They say America faces a hunger and nutrition crisis unlike any the country has seen in generations, with 33 per cent of families unable to afford the amount or quality of food they want. You can access the report entitled Reset the Table: Meeting the Moment to Transform the US Food System here.

Announcing new EU legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55 per cent, the EC Executive Vice-President has struck an alarmist tone. He says that if we fail to act, “we would fail our children and grandchildren, who will be fighting wars over water and food.”

The Guardian believes that the problem lies with the few transnational companies who dominate every link of the food supply chain from ‘seeds and fertilizers to slaughterhouses and supermarkets to cereals and beers’. It argues that these mega-companies dictate what farmers grow, how much they are paid, what consumers eat, and how much our groceries cost.

The Guardian is also worried about the future of regenerative agriculture, concerned that it doesn’t pay to rewild farms.  Reuters joins the debate, writing that critics want to ban the conversion of wildland for organic farming. They say that transitioning conventional farmland into organic is a three-year process, and some farmers may be converting untouched land instead. (In any case, yields are usually lower with organic farming than conventional farming, requiring a more significant acreage for the same production.)

Although selective breeding and genetic modification have made corn and soybeans more tolerant to heat and drought, a recent study has found that the gain is offset by reduced productivity under normal conditions. As one of the researchers explains, ‘There’s been this trade-off; crops become better adapted to extreme weather, but less adapted to normal conditions.’

In a special report on sustainability and agriculture, the FT looks at the increasing role of green finance. At the same time, Euronews argues that food must be at the heart of environmental action ahead of the COP26 meeting in November.

Palm oil is once again in the spotlight with a new report by a coalition of NGOs which accuses the Indonesian palm oil industry of human rights abuses. The piece is critical of the RSPO complaints system, which it calls ‘slow and ineffective.’

Last week, sugar taxes were back in the headlines with the publication in the UK of a government-commissioned report that called for a surcharge of £3 a kilo on sugar and £6 a kilo on salt sold wholesale for use in processed food, restaurants, and catering. The British Prime Minister seemed unimpressed by the idea. An expert at GlobalData suggested that one of the tax goals would be to force product reformulation. Still, food makers are unlikely to find alternatives without affecting taste and texture or increasing price.

Impossible Foods Inc. plans to launch a plant-based chicken nugget made from textured soy protein and sunflower oil, but Bloomberg wonders whether it is entering the market too late. The news agency is more optimistic about lab-grown foie gras, which it finds delicious. Meanwhile, Popeyes, the US fast-food chain, is worried about shortages and is stockpiling chicken ahead of its launch of a new chicken nugget product at the end of July.

Is lab-grown chocolate next on our shopping lists? The answer is apparently ‘No’. Although possible, it will be too expensive compared to the real thing.

Chinese pork imports should drop significantly after a 50 per cent fall in domestic pig prices. US pork is now more expensive than domestic meat after tariffs and freight, and the Chinese government can now replenish state reserves more cheaply from the local market.

Environmentalists often criticize the global shipping industry for its environmental footprint, even though it transports about 90 per cent of world trade by weight while accounting for only 3 per cent of human-made CO2 emissions. The sector is looking for solutions – is sail one of them?

The Wall Street Journal looks at how the recent US Presidential executive order on increasing competitiveness may affect the railroads and ocean shipping. Meanwhile, even though the Ever Given, the cargo ship famous for blocking the Suez Canal has now left Egypt, the vessel’s owners are worried about legal claims against them.

Raízen, a joint venture between Cosan and Royal Dutch Shell, is selling 8 per cent of its shares through an initial public offering, seeking to raise R$6.9bn ($1.34bn). Raizen is Brazil’s fourth-largest company by revenue, with a workforce of about 30,000. If successful, the offering would put it among the top-10 IPOs on record in Brazil.

Finally, and while on the subject of alcohol, hope may finally be at hand with a hangover-recovery drink attracting attention from major drink companies. And no, it’s not a Bloody Mary!

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