Archived Posts

News Flash: October 9, 2014


Walmart Announces New Commitment to a Sustainable Food System at Global Milestone Meeting

Walmart, this week, announced its commitment to create a more sustainable food system. The company will reach this goal through four key pillars: improving the affordability of food for both customers and the environment, increasing access to food, making healthier eating easier, and improving the safety and transparency of the food chain. The four pillars aim to address major issues and threats facing today’s global food system, including how to address the food needs of a growing population while reducing environmental impact; meeting an increasing consumer demand for greater food transparency; providing more options for healthier eating; and alleviating global hunger. While Walmart has already made significant progress across the four pillars, the announcement outlines new steps towards a more sustainable food system. The Affordable component will work to reduce the “true cost” of food. Working collaboratively with suppliers, Walmart has the opportunity to lower the “true cost” of food – not only by providing everyday low costs for customers, but also by decreasing the environmental impact of agricultural practices. The company has already made enhancements in the area of sustainable agriculture, and will advance this work through the launch of its Climate Smart Agriculture Platform. For accessibility, Walmart aims to provide affordable, nutritious, sustainably-grown food. That means making it easy for customers to buy food through the company’s network of thousands of stores and elsewhere. For the “healthier” pillar, the store will make eating healthier easy and affordable. For Safe and Transparent, Walmart will show where food comes from. A transparent food chain fosters improved food safety, worker safety, and animal welfare. Walmart will work to provide more information and transparency about the products on its shelves so customers can see where an item came from, how it was made, and decode the ingredient label. As with all of its sustainability initiatives, Walmart will continue to collaborate with its suppliers to track and report the progress of creating a truly sustainable food system, and will take additional steps in the years ahead to advance the affordability, accessibility, healthier eating, safety and transparency of the food supply system. Yahoo Finance


STB orders data from all rail shipments in bid to end backlogs

The US Surface Transportation Board is ordering some of the nation’s largest rail carriers to provide a wide array of data on train movements, a step designed to ease the rail backlog problems in the upper Midwest. The order requires all Class I railroads to file weekly data reports. The official order on the STB website says this move will “promote industry-wide transparency, accountability, and improved service.” “Although the Board currently monitors various metrics of railroad performance, the Board agrees that there is a need for broader standardized performance data from the railroad industry as it continues to address existing service challenges.” STB said in the order. The new requirement supersedes an earlier request for data from Canadian Pacific Railway and BNSF Railway. Those reports were requested after an April hearing that reviewed the problems the carriers were facing moving fertilizer for 2014 planting and grain from the 2013 harvest. It also calls for data from all shipments, not just those in the agricultural sector. Information requested includes: average speeds, dwell times, number of cars loaded and emptied, as well as weekly number of grain cars ordered, loaded, billed, overdue and canceled in each state.  In the weekly reports to the STB filed last Thursday, BNSF reported 2,905 rail cars past due in North Dakota and 4,119 past due nationally, a 41% increase from the previous week. CP’s report notes 3,089 open grain car requests. Both companies were making steady progress on their backlogs over the summer, but the beginning of the 2014 corn and soybean harvest have forced the companies to take on new orders. Agri-pulse



Brazil Set for Record Soybean Crop as Farmers Switch Out of Corn

Soybean output in top exporter Brazil is poised to reach a record high as farmers expand planting over other crops, the government forecaster said. Growers may reap 88.8 million to 92.4 million metric tons of the oilseed in the 2014-2015 season, exceeding last season’s 86.1 million tons, Conab said today in its first forecast for the crop. The USDA had estimated a 91 million-ton crop in a September 11 report. “We’re continuously increasing our production and our productivity,” Agriculture Policy Secretary Seneri Paludo told reporters in Brasilia after the forecasts were released. Farmers probably will increase soy planting by as much as 5.5 percent, mostly over areas previously used for corn as the oilseed is still a more profitable option even after a 28 percent price slump this year. Corn output is set to fall 1.2 percent to 4.1 percent to 76.6 million to 78.9 million tons. Planting for the 2014-2015 crop started this month and will run until December. Most harvesting occurs January to April. Bloomberg



Market uptake surges for RSPO-certified palm oil

RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil now accounts for 18% of the total global palm oil market, up from 15% last year, according to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). RSPO has just published a report outlining the social, economic and environmental progress made as a result of its work and the work of its members. RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil now accounts for 5% of total global vegetable oil production – but the organization acknowledges there is still some way to go. Together, palm oil and palm kernel oil account for about 40% of total vegetable oil production. Food Navigator

Wetter October seen curbing Malaysian palm oil output

Malaysia’s palm oil output may ease in October as wet weather delays harvesting and reduces oil extraction rates from fresh fruit bunches, planters and traders said, indicating production growth could have peaked two months ahead of schedule in August.Lower output by the world’s second largest palm oil producer may help eat into stockpiles that have spilled over the 2 million tonne mark recently and underpin prices of the tropical oil that have slumped 18 percent this year amid a global glut of edible oils. “Looking at the rainfall, I doubt palm oil production will peak in October,” said Lingam Supramaniam, director at Malaysia-based commodities firm Pelindung Bestari. “I think the best we saw was August. From September, it’s already on the downward trend,” he added.The benchmark contract on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange has started showing signs of recovery with a gain of about 14 percent from a more than five-year low of 1,914 ringgit ($587.48) per tonne hit early last month.Malaysia is currently facing an “inter-monsoon season”, or a shift from the drier southwest monsoon to the rainy northeast monsoon, that will last until early or middle November and is marked by frequent thunderstorms in the afternoon, Ambun Dindang from the Malaysian Meteorological Department said.”Generally, compared to September, we can say October will be more wet,” he told Reuters, adding that October’s mean value of rainfall expected over Peninsular Malaysia is 200-300mm, and 200-250mm for the states of Sabah and Sarawak. Rains and thunderstorms over oil palm-growing areas could force planters to delay harvesting and leave palm fruits on trees longer, driving up their free fatty acid (FFA) content, as well as complicate transportation of plucked bunches to mills.A higher FFA content degrades the quality of oil produced. Dindang added that despite forecasts of an El Nino at the end of the year, signs of the drought-inducing weather phenomenon has yet to materialize over Malaysia. Meteorology experts have pared down expectations of an El Nino. The World Meteorological Organization last month said it now sees less chance of El Nino conditions forming this year than it did three months ago, and expects only a weak event if it occurs at all. Reuters



Corn Futures Cap Longest Rally in Eight Months on Exports

Corn futures rose, capping the longest rally in eight months, as demand climbed for shipments from the U.S. In the week ended Oct. 2, U.S. export sales of corn advanced 23 percent from a week earlier, and grain shipments jumped 37% from a year earlier, government data show. The domestic crop was 17 percent harvested on Oct. 5, down from 32 percent in the previous five years. Corn futures for December delivery rose 0.4 percent to close at $3.4475 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade. The price climbed for the seventh straight session, the longest rally since Jan. 16. Farmers in the U.S. will harvest a record 14.54 billion bushels after rain and cool weather boosted yields, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts. That’s higher than the government forecast last month of 14.395 billion bushels. The price has dropped 18 percent this year.  Bloomberg