lunes, 16 de junio de 2008

The Agribusiness World Today

Ken Shwedel
Investigador de Agronegocios, Rabobank, México
16 - 20 de Junio de 2008

The World

Bagging your milk. The idea of selling milk in plastic bags is not new in the U.K. Previously in the U.K. market there were attempts to introduce milk sold in plastic bags, but not with much success. Sainsbury thinks that the past is the past, and now the time is right. With the growing concern about the environment and the impact of packaging waste on the environment Sainsbury thinks that consumers will now be receptive to milk packaged in plastic bags. And, of course, this should also work to improve Sainsbury's positioning. To this end they have entered into a partnership with Dairy Crest. The idea is that the bags will be put into a reusable jug that the consumers will purchase. Once emptied, the plastic bags will be recycled. They are saying that they can "reduce milk packaging waste by 75 percent". Sainsbury expects that within a year the plastic bag milk will be available in 500 stores. Looking to the future, the thinking is that mil will be available in a self – dispenser, with consumers filling up their own jugs in the store.

Food sensitive marketing. Food companies are always looking for new market segments to exploit. Now they are see an “opportunity in catering to the needs of people who have food allergies or celiac”. In the U.S. there are an estimated 14 million people who have food allergies or celiac. While this is a relatively small number, surprisingly “as much as 28 percent of U.S. citizens believe they are intolerant to some foods”. That makes the market interesting. In the past the market segment was relatively small with products sold in specialty or health stores. The market is growing and is projected to continue expanding, especially after the U.S. government began in 2006 “requiring ingredient labels to disclose whether products contain milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts…fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.” There are now some 7,000 products on the market which is estimated at some US$3.9 billion.


Guilty until proven innocent. That seems to be what is happening with Mexican tomato exports to the U.S. After linking a number of cases of salmonella to consumption of fresh tomatoes the Food and Drug Administration in that country have begun to identify which tomatoes are safe to eat, i.e. not the source of the salmonella according to origination. Among the tomatoes that have not been identified as safe are those exported from Mexico. Not being identified as safe does not mean that the tomatoes are not safe, but that distinction is not clear in consumers' minds. Even if the FDA clears Mexican tomatoes as the source of the salmonella outbreak, the damage is done: what this does is reinforce a negative image that Mexican products are unsafe. And with last year’s exports at US$1.2 billion that is real concern. The industry is now looking to strategies to support Mexico's tomato exports, particularly those destine for the U.S. winter vegetable market. Interestingly, most of Mexico's tomato exports at this time of the year are greenhouse, rather than field, grown.

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