lunes, 4 de febrero de 2008

The Agribusiness World Today

Ken Shwedel
Investigador de Agronegocios de Rabobank, México
4 - 8 de Febrero de 2008

The World

Seeding for the future: Looking at increased demand and future trends seed companies are adjusting R&D strategies. Monsanto, for example, is now betting on soybeans for the near future, reducing the emphasis that they had put on corn. Of the 26 biotech crop projects in their pipeline “a dozen [are] in soybeans, nine in corn, four in cotton and one in canola.” Part of the reason for the focus on soybeans most likely has to do with the fact that they haven’t come out with a real new commercial soybean winner since “the Roundup Ready trait [was] commercialized in 1986”. Interestingly, they appear also to be betting on soybeans because they see that second generation biofuel feedstocks have the potential to dampen the demand for corn as a feedstock for ethanol.

The demand for vegetable oil for biodiesel, on the hand, as a feedstock will continue strong. Likewise, the projected growth in consumption for animal protein products will support the demand for protein meal. In order for future commodity production to satisfy consumption needs, both additional land will be need to be brought under cultivation as well as yields will have to increase. The R&D efforts are looking to higher yield traits, and, since additional land may be somewhat more marginal in quality, drought resistant traits. Monsanto, “will layer traits that consumers value” including modifying the oil profile to “match the product of olives in dietary benefits”. Apparently, in their present strategy, they have leaned from earlier consumer resistance to genetically engineered products.

Environmental eating: Concerns for the environment are becoming an increasingly more important part of food company decision making. Specific actions now go far beyond recycling. In the U.S., for example, Dunkin’ Brands which operates Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, has now included in their plans the construction of a restaurant that “would meet the standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, [as well as] the modification of current store designs to make them more ecofriendly.” In the UK, a leading restaurateur has opened a “sustainable fish and chips restaurant”: Tom’s Place. To do this, most of the fish will be sourced from fishermen whose practices have reviewed,while cod will come from “where it is not overfished”.


Let them smoke: Following somewhat the trend that we have seen in a number of countries, the authorities in Mexico City, while not prohibiting smoking all together, have required smoke free areas in public restaurants. Restaurant owners, likewise following a trend in the rest of world, have complained that this is bad for business, also arguing that the city government gave them too little time to adjust. Last week a restaurant chain that is a business unit of a large multinational retailer went to court to seek an injunction against the no-smoking ordinance. We see this as a risky strategy since it runs contrary to the corporate responsible image and concern for food safety of the parent retail company.

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