Media Monitor

US consumer prices in November were up 7.1 per cent from a year ago, compared to an annual increase of 7.7 per cent the month before. US grocery prices rose 0.5 per cent in November, led by an 8.9 per cent jump in the price of lettuce. The cost of eggs was up 49.1 per cent from a year earlier.

China’s farmers have shrugged off droughts, floods, and Covid hurdles to produce a record 686.53 million mt of cereals, up 0.5 per cent over 2021. It is the eighth straight year that China has produced more than 650 million mt.

India’s wheat reserves in state stores totalled 19 million mt at the start of December, down from 37.85 million mt in 2021 and the lowest in six years. Meanwhile, India’s livestock producers have called on their government to restrict corn exports to ensure sufficient poultry feed supplies.

EU cereal production should rise next year after a poor 2022 harvest. Strategie Grains forecasts soft wheat production at 128.7 million mt, up from 125.5 million this year. It estimates corn output at 63.7 million mt, up 26 per cent from a 15-year low in 2022, and barley production at 52.5 million mt, up 2.5 per cent this year.

Belarus said it would allow, without preconditions, the transit of grain from Ukraine through its territory for export from Lithuanian ports.

The UN says that 200,000 Somalis are suffering catastrophic food shortages, and many are dying of hunger, with that number expected to rise to over 700,000 next year. A long-running Islamist insurgency has compounded the problem and hampered humanitarian access to some areas.

The Conversation argues that colonial food production systems are the root of Africa’s problems, leaving Africa’s poorest people exposed, and vulnerable to climatic variability and economic shocks.

As many as 828 million people faced hunger in 2021, an increase of 150 million more people since 2019. There is enough food to feed everyone in the world today. What is lacking is the capacity to buy food that is available because of high levels of poverty and inequalities.

In 2019, the US wasted 80.6 million mt of food across all sectors, 35 per cent of the total food supply. More than one-third of that waste occurred in homes.

Meat consumption in Brazil fell sharply this year due to rising prices and health concerns. More than 90 per cent of Brazilians say they won’t return to their past meat-eating habits.

Slaughter-free meat may provide an alternative, but companies must prove they can scale up to reduce costs. Israel’s Believer Meats, known formerly as Future Meat, believe they can with their new facility under construction in the US. Equinom, another Israeli company, is concentrating on developing pea varieties for their plant-based meat products.

Could insects soon be on the menu? Adult crickets are 65 per cent protein by weight, higher than beef (23 per cent) and tofu (8 per cent).

If you struggle with which proteins have the least carbon emissions, this BBC article may help. It doesn’t include insects, but I was surprised to learn that cheese, not chicken or pork, generates the third-highest agricultural emissions, after lamb and beef.

The Netherlands, the world’s second-largest exporter of agricultural products (by value), may have to reduce livestock numbers by a third over the next eight years to halve the country’s total emissions by 2030.

In company news, Bunge Ltd will invest about $550 million to build a soy protein concentrate facility in Indiana to cater to the rising demand for plant-based food products and processed meats. The new facility will process 4.5 million bushels of soybeans annually. Construction will start in the first quarter of 2023, and the plant will be commissioned by mid-2025.

Bunge also announced it is moving its place of incorporation from Bermuda to Switzerland. Bunge’s operational headquarters will remain in St. Louis, Missouri, US.

Nestlé announced it would invest CHF 40 million in a new production site in Smolyhiv in the western part of Ukraine. The factory will employ 1,500 people and supply both Ukrainian and export markets with cold sauces, seasonings, soups, and instant food.

Meanwhile, Fonterra and Nestlé have sold their joint-venture dairy assets in Brazil owned to Lactalis for BRL700m (US$131.5m).

Cargill will donate $14 million over the next three years in its partnership with CARE to empower women in agricultural communities. Cargill and CARE have collaborated for over 60 years on the issue.

Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) has created a food and feed solutions business line that will focus on developing the company’s presence in the lecithin, glycerine and speciality feed protein areas.

Unilever may sell a portion of its US ice cream portfolio valued at as much as $3 billion. The international labels Magnum and Ben & Jerry’s are not included.

Finally, a new report confirms what we all knew: higher prices – and not increased production – are the only way to lift cocoa farmers out of poverty. However, some good news for the world’s cocoa producers: analysts expect chocolate demand to recover to per-Covid levels this Christmas.

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