Commodity Conversations News Monitor

Russia has reportedly pulled back on the idea of a naval blockade of Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, although naval exercises in the Black Sea continue to impact grain shipments. However, the situation remains uncertain and could stay that way for a while. Russia and Ukraine account for more than 25 per cent of global wheat shipments, and markets moved higher last week on invasion fears. The FT writes that food and fertilizer will become the next friction point between Russia and the EU.

Canadian police are slowly removing protestors blocking the Ambassador Bridge, one of the main border crossings into the US. Some companies are turning to air transport to avoid the blockade.

The USDA has launched its Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program and will invest $1 billion to promote farming, ranching and forestry practices that cut greenhouse gas emissions or capture and store carbon.

One in three people across America has detectable levels of a toxic herbicide 2,4-D. The herbicide was developed in the 1940s, but its popularity dipped in favour of Roundup (glyphosate). It has seen a resurgence since the spread of Roundup-resistant weeds.

In their latest Land of Plenty Report, the UK WWF has called for the UK government to invest more in regenerative agriculture, arguing that it could slash emissions equivalent to taking 900,000 cars off the roads.

Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon totalled 430 square kilometres in January, five times more than January 2021. New clearing in January was still less than half of what is common during the peak months from June to September.

In Colombia’s Amazon region, fires suggest rising deforestation for ranching and illegal mining. The burning is occurring in Caqueta, Meta and Guaviare provinces, where it creeps into national parks and parts of the Amazon rainforest.

More than 1,000 sq km of Amazon rainforest has been felled to grow soya in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso since the Amazon soy moratorium was signed in 2006. However, degradation in the Amazon Forest was responsible for more carbon loss than deforestation between 2010 and 2019.

The Chinese government’s recently released guidelines of gene-edited crops should boost research into new wheat varieties. Meanwhile, China wants to become a world leader in sustainable agriculture.

Recent data shows China missed its commitments to purchase an additional $200 billion worth of US farm and manufactured goods, energy and services under the Phase 1 trade deal agreed with President Trump

Tyson Foods uses as much as 10 million acres of farmland to produce corn and soybeans to feed the more than 2 billion animals it processes every year in the US alone, according to a new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Bunge reported a 17.1 per cent jump in quarterly profit as large oilseed crops in North America and Europe and strong demand for processed meal and oil bolstered its core agribusiness unit. The company forecast that the strength would carry into 2022 but warned that it would likely not match last year’s record performance.

Indonesia has expanded the scope of a January ruling, which required suppliers to declare their export plans of crude palm oil olein and used cooking oil, to include all palm oil products.

The soaring cost of vegetable oils makes it harder for India to bring inflation under control. Palm oil prices have jumped 15 per cent this year, while soybean oil has gained 12 per cent. India’s consumer food price index rose in December at the fastest pace in six months. The Indian government has tried to rein in domestic vegoil prices by reducing import taxes, imposing stockpile limits and suspending futures trading in edible oils and oilseeds.

Bloomberg feels that the rise in vegoil prices is a sure sign that food inflation could go higher, although palm oil prices saw some profit-taking last week.

The UN FAO has warned that the overexploitation of fish in West Africa by the growing global fishmeal and fish oil industry is having a “considerably negative impact” on food security, undermining the ability of local communities to feed themselves.

Exchange certified stocks of arabica coffee beans have fallen to their lowest level since February 2000, mainly because it’s more attractive for Brazilian producers to sell into the domestic market rather than pay high shipping costs to deliver the commodity at the exchange.

Jordan wants to kick start domestic agriculture and regain food sovereignty by planting wheat on abandoned farmland.

The price of lumber has risen nearly 30 per cent so far in February, hitting $1,204.90 per thousand board feet. Still, lumber is 30 per cent below its record high of $1,711 reached in May 2021.

A fight is brewing in Mexico over corn imports. In December 2020, the Mexican president issued a decree banning the import of GM corn for human consumption by 2024. The US argues that the ban will violate the USMCA free trade deal.

The World Shipping Council has published what it believes are the regulatory and economic steps that the International Maritime Organization must take for the shipping industry to achieve zero carbon emissions.

Shipping lines added a record 7.2m teu, or 14 per cent, to the global container equipment fleet last year, taking it to 50.5m teu.

Reuters finds signs that the global supply chain crisis could finally start to unwind towards the end of this year. However, trade channels have become so clogged up it could be well into next year before the worst-hit industries see business remotely as usual.

Central banks are also worried that supply chain problems will continue through 2022 and that the container line’s record profits will translate into higher inflation. Although some suggest that US port congestion may have peaked, Maersk CEO’s has said that supply chain issues are not getting much better.

Maersk has acquired US-based forwarder Pilot Freight Services for $1.8 billion, the latest in a string of acquisitions transforming the company into a global logistics outfit.

The container shipping company Danaos reported a sevenfold increase in net income in 2021 at $1.05 billion. Danaos was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2018.

The shipping companies’ massive profits are fuelling resentment and criticism of the sector’s concentration and alliances.

Shares in European food delivery firms have fallen sharply, with investors losing patience with continual losses and rising costs.

The UK government has announced a review of the pig industry supply chain in response to a worsening crisis in the sector where an estimated 200,000 pigs are backed up on farms, unable to be taken to slaughter.

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