lunes, 2 de febrero de 2009

The Agribusiness World Today

Ken Shwedel
Investigador de Agronegocios de Rabobank, México
2 - 6 Febrero de 2008

The World

What’s in a name.
We have seen companies make a number of different strategic moves to adjust to the economic times and changing consumer tastes. More often than not these moves involve changes and development in products, and product lines. At times these changes represent the first steps in a repositioning of the firm. But for some companies repositioning means also adjusting with the corporate identity. That is the idea that Pizza Hut, the pizza subsidy of Yum! Brands, is toying with. They have been changing the menu options adding a line of pastas. Just recently “Pizza Hut added lasagna to their line of delivered Tuscani pasta”. They also said that they “would begin using all-natural ingredients in their food.” They even have new boxes made from “40 percent recycled materials”. As if all of this is not enough to reposition themselves in consumers’ minds, they are now testing a modification of their name to just plain The Hut. The name is both similar enough so that consumers won’t see it as a the signage of a new company, but different enough to tell consumers that it is no longer just a pizza fast food outlet.

Reviving the image of corn as a feedstock for ethanol.
Recently the use of corn as a feedstock for ethanol has come under increased and intense criticism. With the record high prices of corn last year corn found itself right in the middle of the food versus feed debate. Now that corn prices have retreated policy makers and the media have largely forgot about —at least for the time being— the food versus fuel debate. That still leaves the charges that corn is energy inefficient and that it is “no better than fossil fuel in terms of climate effects and energy output.” That has policy makers seeming to favor other alternative options, i.e. wind. Now there is a study out from the University of Nebraska, in the number two corn producing state in the U.S., that “examines ethanol’s environmental effects and energy consumption. It stretches from the time farmers till the soil before planting corn to when cattle eat the distillers grain left over from ethanol production.” The study says that increasingly more ethanol (60 percent) is from energy efficient plants. The “energy-efficient plants generate from 1.5 to 1.8 units of energy for every unit of energy produced...Previous research had indicated a 1.2 net energy ratio.” While this is good news for the industry, corn still is a long way to go when compared with other feedstocks, particularly sugar cane. Policy, though, will still be the key driver in the ethanol market.


Free from Classic Swine Fever.
The Secretary of Agriculture announced last week that the Mexican states located in the southern states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Tabasco were declared free of Classic Swine Fever. With this, the whole country is now considered as Classic Swine Fever. Although these states are not that important in commercial hog product, the fact that the whole country is now free of Classic Swine Fever should give a psychological boost to the industry.

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