Acquisition talks between ADM and Bunge have ended after over a month of negotiations as both companies could not come to an agreement. Sources say the talks were slow as the two companies were concerned about potential regulatory issues . In addition, JP Morgan had previously warned that an ADM acquisition would not necessarily be economically rational, taking into account Bunge’s 2017 revenues, the challenges faced by the sector, and ADM’s debt.
The big four ABCD companies all reported significant growth in the amount of grain they exported from Brazil in 2017, generally thanks to a recovery from the 2016 drought and a bumper crop. COFCO, in particular, was able to boost its grain exports by 327% thanks to its acquisitions of Nidera NV and Noble Agri, along with its access to China’s soy market, while ADM was able to increase exports by 140% thanks to its upgraded port terminals. A corn farmer in Mato Grosso said that the competition among the four firms was good news for farmers as it pushed up prices.
COFCO is keen to tie up with competitors in its efforts to feed China. The group’s president said that while the company still hoped to become one of the ABCDs in the long term, it conceded that it still had a lot to learn about the world markets and that it would rather partner with than compete against the other big tradehouses.
The Louis Dreyfus family hedge fund Sierentz has launched a new agricultural commodities trading firm – Sierentz Global Merchants. The group, which just hired a senior execution expert from LDC, will focus on grain exports from the Black Sea.
Bunge announced that it will offer US farmers a premium for their corn crop during the three year period that it takes for them to achieve official organic certification, in a move the company hopes will encourage and help more farmers make the transition.
Cargill launched a website, fedbytrade.com, to highlight the importance of maintaining good trade relations and urge the US to avoid imposing protectionist measures. The company said the US imposing steel and aluminium tariffs could antagonise China and other trade partners into retaliatory tariffs on agricultural products. In any case, economists say there is little historical data to prove that higher tariffs can decrease the trade deficit. They argue the US should focus instead on reducing its fiscal deficit.
Olam has invested USD 1 billion in Nigeria ever since it set up in the country 26 years ago. A company official said the goal was to turn Nigeria into Africa’s agricultural hub. Investments include a rice mill and plantation which is on its way to become the biggest rice farm on the continent, as well as investments in poultry and animal feed, among many others.
Wilmar is teaming up with the Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council (MPOCC) to help all farmers achieve a sustainable certification by the end of 2019, which Wilmar says will help it meet consumer demand, while helping smallholders achieve higher yields and income. More than half of all mills in the country should benefit from the project. In India, meanwhile, the company increased its shareholding in Shree Renuka Sugars to a controlling 39% from 27% previously.
Cocoa exporters in the Ivory Coast, such as Ferrero, Cargill or Olam, could be affected by a government drive to lower the production of cocoa from about 2 million mt to 1.7-1.8 million mt, in an attempt to stop a supply glut from depressing prices. The government is uprooting cocoa plantations and blocking companies like Nestle and Mars from distributing hybrid seeds.
In the UK, the sugar levy on sweet beverages has already been hailed a success, even though it will only be implemented in April. Many beverage companies have anticipated the sugar levy and fewer drinks will be taxed than initially expected. The government expects now to only raise half the money it had initially forecast. AG Barr and Britvic estimate 99% and 94% of their respective products won’t be taxed. Coca-Cola, too, is catering to low-sugar beverages demand from consumers by reformulating Fanta and Sprite in the UK. The company’s sales volume in the low- or no-calories variants account for 35%. The original Coke, on the other hand, has not been reformulated which means it will become more expensive.
Nestlé said it was the industry’s responsibility to improve public health. The head of the UK & Ireland operations said it was working very hard to reformulate its products and make them healthier. The company has already reduced sugar by 10% in its confectionery brands, removing 2.6 billion teaspoons of sugar.
Similarly, General Mills and the Kellogg Co. is working to make its supply chain more transparent. The group’s head of sustainability explained this was key to building customer trust, especially when it comes to packaged food. Its strategy focuses on investing at origin as well as working closely with partners such as ADM and Cargill to improve sustainable sourcing. It hopes to source all its US wheat sustainably by 2020, from 36% in 2016.
The EU announced that it was investigating the VAT tax waiver the UK extended to commodity derivatives transactions in spot, futures and options contracts. The UK was granted the authorisation to extend a VAT waiver on some commodity deals in 1977, but the EU is alleging that the government extended the waiver beyond the intended limit and that this is creating unfair competition for other EU exchanges.
The EU is considering a new law which would force retailers to reveal their profits as a part of efforts to bring transparency in the food chain business and provide more profits to farmers. Lawmakers said they expected strong opposition from the food sector, but insisted they were committed to passing a proposition they hope to publish in May.
The winner of 2017 Africa Food prize highlighted that climate change is posing a threat to key staple crops and food security globally as increasing temperatures have lowered yields. He highlighted the need to develop a new system to feed the growing demand without harming the environment.
In California, the new buzz word is “regenerative agriculture” – a type of farming designed to rebuild topsoil as well as to encourage biodiversity. The Regenerative Organic Alliance is working on putting together a certification system built on the USDA’s organic certification. And a campaign has been launched in the state to support a law that proposes to ban the sale of pork veal and egg produced from caged animals. The petition has collected 200,000 signatures so far and a campaigner said he was confident they could reach the required 365,000 signatures by the May 1 deadline.
Did you know that Britons throw away 25 million slices of bread every day? The organisation Love Food Hate Waste has started a campaign suggesting people freeze bread, and toast it when they want to eat it, to significantly reduce that waste.
This news summary has been produced by ECRUU