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Farming Important Facts
Farming Important Facts

Farming Important Facts (474)

'Agbiz today (4 September 2018) had the opportunity to make an oral submission to the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) on its position in terms of the review of Section 25 of the Constitution', Dr John Purchase, CEO of Agbiz said. The Agbiz delegation was led by the Chairman, Francois Strydom, and further compised the CEO of Agbiz, Dr John Purchase, Wandile Sihlobo and Theo Boshoff, who presented the submission to the CRC. The following is the position of Agbiz as summarised in today's presentation:

The function of Agbiz is to ensure that agribusiness plays a constructive role in the country's economic growth, development and transformation, and to create an environment in which agribusinesses of all sizes and in all sectors, can thrive, expand and be competitive. Although the majority of our members operate in the value chain and are not large landowners per se, the entire upstream and downstream value chain relies on a successful and growing primary agricultural sector and Agbiz views the success of the land reform programme as one of the single, greatest factors needed to ensure its long-term sustainability. Land reform is an imperative given the history of dispossession, skewed patterns of ownership and insufficient access to land for economic and settlement purposes in South Africa. Agbiz therefore supports the three-tiered land reform process of redistribution, tenure reform and restitution mandated by Sections 25 (5), (6) and (7) of the Constitution respectively.

It is within this context that Agbiz has invested a considerable amount of time and resources over the past eight years to promote the success of land reform, both through inputs on policy and draft legislation, as well as formulating alternative funding mechanisms to speed up the process in a sustainable manner. Agbiz was involved in the various workstreams known as the NAREG process following the publication of the Green Paper on Land Reform in 2011, played a leading role in the Inter-Departmental Task Team on Outcome 7 led by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR), and continues to participate and lead the business delegation in several task teams at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) deliberating on legislation that affects land rights and land reform. In association with the Banking Association of South Africa (BASA), we developed a blended financing model based on the public-private-partnership principle to facilitate private sector lending to accelerate land redistribution.

As a business chamber representing the interests of a significant portion of the South African economy, we have a fiduciary duty towards our members to base our advocacy on sound research, objective analysis and the best available evidence. As such, we have researched the legal merits of an amendment to the Constitution and investigated the economic consequences using recognised methodology in partnership with reputable research institutions to inform our position. Through this process we could not find compelling evidence to indicate that the slow pace of land reform is directly related to Section 25 of the Constitution. We are of the view that the current provisions of the Constitution provide the best possible framework within which meaningful and sustainable land reform can be achieved.

The current wording of Section 25 of the Constitution strikes a good balance between the prospective protection of property rights from arbitrary deprivation, which is essential to economic freedom and individual liberty, whilst simultaneously placing an obligation to correct the skewed patterns of ownership inherited from the previous dispensation. Land reform is a necessary prerequisite for social justice in South Africa. However, we believe that social justice is not limited to redress, but also must create new opportunities for those who were denied in the past. The protection of property rights is vital for individuals to achieve economic fulfilment and freedom. We are of the view that the current provisions catering for expropriation in the public interest provide the state with a powerful tool to achieve this goal and therefore no amendment is required. What has been missing to date is the political will to implement these provisions within the context of land reform.

Section 25 furthermore includes specific provisions unique to the South African situation which caters for land reform. Most notable, Section 25 (3) obligates a court to consider the 'history of the acquisition of the property', a clause inserted for the purpose of land reform, but which has not been tested adequately to date due to no suitable cases being placed before the court. Section 25 (8) is furthermore clear that no provision of Section 25 may impede land, water and related reform. The claim that Section 2 impedes the state from giving effect to land reform therefore could be a misinterpretation opposed to a defect in the text. Finally, even the right to compensation may be limited by a law of general application if it is reasonable and justifiable to do so in terms of Section 36. Amendments to this provision could have unintended consequences for other forms of property and other sectors of the economy. Since the Constitution relates to 'property' in the widest sense, amendments for specific purposes, such as land reform, should be undertaken through amendments to legislation where a distinction can be made.

In terms of unintended economic consequences the first major concern is agricultural financing since the sector requires finance to produce on a scale that enables it to compete globally. Financiers have a fiduciary duty towards depositors to mitigate their risk, which is why collateral is often used in accordance with international banking regulations. The total farm debt currently amounts to more than R197 billion, of which roughly 75% is collateralised through the value of the land. Expropriation without compensation poses a risk to commercial banks, which have an exposure of R148 billion, the Land Bank holding R49 billion, and the remainder primarily sitting with agribusinesses. In the absence of reliable collateral, it will constrain agricultural finance. This could likewise have a spill-over effect on the rest of the value chain as well as other sectors of the economy.

The Agbiz/IDC Agribusiness Confidence Index has proven to be a reliable indicator for the sector as real economic growth in the sector and agribusiness confidence has always gone hand in hand. Recently, however, Agbiz has witnessed a deviation with confidence declining whilst the sector was still doing relatively well. This deviation is probably due to uncertainty regarding property rights. Business confidence usually reflects business decisions, and the risk posed here is that the revenue being generated by the sector might not be reinvested due to depressed business confidence. This will pose challenges for the future of the sector if investments are not made into fixed improvements. Decreased investment and finance in the sector will inevitably soon lead to reduced production. South Africa is currently a net exporter of food which enables the sector to provide food at export parity prices. However, if we lose this status we will be required to import food at import parity prices, which will have a direct knock-on effect on the price of basic food for consumers.

In order to do justice to the challenges facing the land reform programme, it is necessary to delve into the true reasons why land reform has not proceeded at the desired pace and investigate the assumption that the need to pay compensation for expropriated land makes the programme unaffordable. By analysing figures related to the last ten years' budget, actual expenditure, average price per hectare, and actual number of hectares acquired, a picture of poor financial management emerges. Whilst acknowledging that the actual budget for land has always been relatively small for a programme of national importance (less than 0,4% of the national budget), the relative and real allocations have progressively shrunk in the past ten years. Along with a declining budget, evidence shows that large portions of the land reform budget have been reprioritised and spent on other projects of the DRDLR related to rural development. There is a clear correlation between the reallocation of the budget and a rapid decline in the number of hectares acquired for land reform from 2009 onwards as the Department took on the added responsibility of rural development without receiving an additional budget. The affordability challenges are therefore largely attributed to an unfunded mandate to effect rural development, and not due to the provisions of the Constitution. By analysing a number of court judgements and recent land reform transactions, it also become apparent that the state has never implemented its 2011 decision to abandon the willing-buyer, willing-seller model in favour of expropriating land for reform. In fact, there are several instances where the state has purchased land for reform at prices far exceeding market value. An assessment of affordability based on just and equitable compensation will therefore be entirely premature as the state has never expropriated for the purpose of land reform. Only after the just and equitable compensation principle has been tested by the state and adjudicated upon in court can a meaningful assessment be made.

Agbiz believes that alternative proposals to fast track sustainable land reform need to be developed, even though land reform in its widest context is a complex topic which requires a nuanced approach. A return to a needs-based approach whereby land needs and aspirations of different categories of beneficiaries are addressed by a variety of methods. It is common knowledge that the state does not have the resources, capacity nor technical skills to transform the commercial agricultural sector on its own. We therefore propose that the state partners with the private sector and ring-fences a portion of its budget to leverage private sector to become involved on a public-private-partnership basis. Agbiz and its members are committed to Agri-BEE and many have voluntarily entered into joint ventures with black beneficiaries, communities or farm worker trusts. To capitalise on this goodwill, Agbiz and the Banking Association South Africa proposed a blended finance model for land reform that would see private sector match the funds committed by the state to establish new black, commercial farmers. The model includes various permutations including credit guarantees, loan/grant co-funding as well as interest subsidies. By incentivising the private sector to take up the challenge of establishing black commercial farmers, the state will be able to focus its capacity and resources to address the social function of land reform. Labour tenants, rural dwellers and farm workers all require assistance to obtain access to land and tenure security. By pursuing transformation in the commercial sector on a public-private partnership basis, the state can focus its resources on addressing their legitimate needs by acquiring property either through purchase or expropriation, subject to just and equitable compensation, followed by subdivision where applicable. Spatial planning instruments must also be used to earmark suitably located urban and peri-urban land for settlement purposes.

Expropriation only deals with the method of acquisition, while solutions to non-resource constraints need to be developed. Considerable research has shown that there are a number of systemic challenges hindering the land reform programme. These challenges are diverse, including beneficiary selection, legislative gaps, poor post-settlement support and poor implementation of existing policies. To address these issues, Agbiz included concrete solutions that are recommend as alternatives to address the underlying issues. These include evidence-based decision making on a collaborative, public-private-partnership land audit to ensure credibility and universal buy-in. In the medium-term a move can be made towards an e-cadastre which synchronises land ownership information with water rights, land claims and mineral rights to make informed decisions. Furthermore, numerous legislative gaps have been identified by Parliament's High-Level Panel which relates to the identification of land and beneficiaries, elite capture and the legal framework for land redistribution. Legal reform is also urgently needed to secure tenure for communal occupiers and reform governance in communal land allocation to ensure transparency and accountability. These areas have great potential for agricultural development and investment but it is contingent upon legal reform which recognises a continuum of rights capable of acting as a platform for economic development.

Finally, there are various contributions that the private sector can make post-acquisition to encourage the success and viability of agricultural enterprises on restored land, these include:

  • Partnership models;
  • Blended development finance;
  • Rural development agency;
  • PPPs for multi-plural extension, training and support;
  • Encourage commodity-specific initiatives;
  • Facilitate market access and trace opportunities;
  • Climate change adaptation; and
  • Reduce regulatory burden for small businesses.

'Agbiz experienced the interaction with members of the CRC as constructive and cordial, and sincerely thanks the CRC for the opportunity to make an oral submission,' Dr John Purchase, CEO of Agbiz stated.

Drakensburg, South Africa, August 27, 2018 – Compac, part of TOMRA Food, has launched a new Field Research Unit which can be deployed directly into the field to research the industry’s most challenging fresh produce issues. The new state-of-the-art laboratory, which is equipped with a broad range of sophisticated analytical sensor technologies from across TOMRA, is the first of its kind for the fresh produce industry. The Field Research Unit was launched at the 10th Citrus Research International Symposium in Drakensburg, South Africa (August 19-22) and begins customer-based testing next week.

Compac delivers packhouse automation systems for sorting fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) based on weight, size, shape, colour, surface blemishes and internal quality. Both Compac and TOMRA have research and sensor development centers in Europe and New Zealand, however there can be challenges accessing produce, particularly with shipping restrictions associated with infected and diseased produce.

The unique advantage of the Field Research Unit (FRU) is that it can be deployed in market, close to the source of produce, and at any stage of the supply chain from the orchard through to the point-of-sale. The data collected can be analyzed to improve produce-sorting and decision making throughout the supply chain, as well as helping to drive new technology research and future product development.

The FRU is equipped with benchtop spectrometers, hyperspectral imaging equipment, texture analysers, the new Compac Inspectra2 internal inspection system for fresh produce, and the TOMRA QVision optimized for protein, moisture and fat analysis. A converted 40-foot shipping container is used to facilitate easy transport to hotspots where fresh produce needs to be investigated.

“Compac’s new project is a welcome initiative for the citrus industry and we look forward to being able to work with the unit in advancing this important technology within the citrus industry”, affirmed Dr. Sean Moore, IPM Portfolio Manager with Citrus Research International, during the event.

The four-day CRI Symposium is a biennial gathering to share findings of recent research conducted on behalf of the southern African citrus industry and features an international mix of keynote speakers.

Dean Barker, Director of Research & Development Projects at Compac, commented: “For our customers, the Field Research Unit has the unrivalled convenience of bringing a sophisticated test laboratory right to their front door. This is confirmation of Compac’s agile response to customers’ needs.”

The demands of feeding the growing global population are driving the need to know more about each piece of produce as it is sorted in the packhouse and in repack centers. Advanced Compac sensors are already deployed in packhouses but measuring other attributes can further improve sorting to optimize productivity, reduce waste and maximize customer value.



Nuria Martí, Alarcon & Harris PR

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28016 Madrid, Spain

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Skype: nuria.marti.romero



Marijke Bellemans

Senior Marketing Communication Coordinator TOMRA Food, Compac, and BBC Technologies

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3001 Leuven, Belgium

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About Compac & TOMRA

Compac provides integrated post-harvest solutions and services to the global fresh produce industry using the world’s most advanced grading technology. Combining industry leading solutions with award-winning grading platforms like Spectrim, the company’s mission is to enable its customers to improve returns, gain operational efficiencies, and ensure a safe food supply via smart, usable technologies. To achieve this, Compac operates centers of excellence, regional offices and manufacturing locations within the United States, Europe, South America, Asia, Africa and Australasia.

Compac is a member of the TOMRA Group that was founded on innovation in 1972 that began with design, manufacturing and sale of reverse vending machines (RVMs) for automated collection of used beverage containers. Today, TOMRA has ~90,000 installations in over 80 markets worldwide and had total revenues of ~6.6 billion NOK in 2016. The Group employs ~3,500 globally and is publicly listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. (OSE: TOM). The TOMRA Group continues to innovate and provide cutting-edge solutions for optimal resource productivity within two main business areas: Collection Solutions (reverse vending and material recovery) and Sorting Solutions (recycling, mining and food sorting).

According to the report World: Prepared Fruits – Market Report: Analysis and Forecast to 2025, recently published by IndexBox, the amount of prepared fruits and nuts exported worldwide stood at 7 million tons in 2016, rising by 4% against the previous year’s level. The total export volume increased at an average annual rate of +1,8% over the period from 2007 to 2016; the trend pattern remained consistent, with only minor fluctuations being recorded in certain years. The pace of growth appeared the most rapid in 2011, when export increased by 8% year-to-year. Global prepared fruits and nuts export peaked in 2016 and is likely to continue its growth in the near future. In value terms, prepared fruits and nuts exports totalled $14 billion in 2016. Overall, it indicated a remarkable increase from 2007 to 2016; the total exports value increased at an average annual rate of +1,8% over the last nine years. The trend pattern, however, indicated some noticeable fluctuations throughout the analysed period. Based on the result of 2016, prepared fruits and nuts export increased by +40,3% against its level of prepared fruits and nuts. Global prepared fruits and nuts export peaked in 2016 and is expected to retain its growth in the immediate term. Top exporting countries in the world China (2,518.7 million USD) USA (1,562.8 million USD) Thailand (1,032.4 million USD) Germany (851.3 million USD) Netherlands (748.4 million USD) Argentina (521.1 million USD) Spain (487.3 million USD) Philippines (449.3 million USD) Mexico (441.2 million USD) Italy (329.2 million USD) Greece (326.0 million USD) Costa Rica (127.5 million USD) Exports by country In 2016, China (1,3 million tons), distantly followed by Thailand (709 000 tons), the United States (US) (667 000 tons), the Philippines (459 000 tons), and Argentina (412 000 tons) were the key exporters of prepared fruits and nuts, together creating 50% of total exports. Spain (305 000 tons), the Netherlands (296 000 tons), Greece (288K tons), Germany (230K tons), Mexico (198 000 tons), Costa Rica (161 000 tons) and Italy (161 000 tons) together made up 23% of total exports. From 2007 to 2016, the most notable growth rate of prepared fruits and nuts exports, among the main exporting countries, was attained by Costa Rica (+17,4% per year), while the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth. In value terms, China ($2,5 billion), the US ($1,6 billion) and Thailand ($1 billion) constituted the countries with the highest levels of exports in 2016, together accounting for 35% of global exports. Germany, the Netherlands, Argentina, Spain, the Philippines, Mexico, Italy, Greece and Costa Rica lagged somewhat behind, together accounting for a further 30%. Mexico (+16,7% per year) had the highest rate of growth with regard to prepared fruits and nuts export, in terms of the main exporting countries, over the last nine years, while the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth. Export prices by country The average prepared fruits and nuts export price stood at $2,046 per ton in 2016, going down by -2.0% against the previous year. Over the period from 2007 to 2016 it increased at an average annual rate of +3,9%. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in prepared fruits and nuts, when it surged by 15% from the previous year’s level. Global prepared fruits and nuts export peaked at $2,129 per ton in 2014; however, from 2015 to 2016, it stood at a somewhat lower level. Export prices varied noticeably by country of destination. The country with the highest export prices was Germany ($3,700 per ton), while Costa Rica ($791 per ton) was among the lowest. From 2007 to 2016, the most notable growth rate of prepared fruits and nuts export prices was attained by China (+6,5% per year), while the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth. – IndexBox

A California jury on Friday ruled that U.S. agricultural company Monsanto was liable for a terminally ill man’s cancer, awarding him US$289 million in damages.

A lawsuit filed by school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson alleged that the Bayer-owned company’s glyphosate-based weedkillers, including Roundup, caused his cancer.

Germany-based Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in June for US$66 billion, has dismissed claims that glyphosate is carcinogenic and says it intends to appeal the verdict.

Johnson’s case was the first lawsuit to go to trial alleging glyphosate – the world’s most common weedkiller – causes cancer. There are more than 5,000 similar plaintiffs across the U.S.

Johnson’s lawyers said he developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using Roundup and Ranger Pro, another Monsanto glyphosate herbicide, as part of his job as a pest control manager for a California county school system, the New York Times reported.

The jury in Superior Court of California in San Francisco deliberated for three days before finding that Monsanto had failed to warn Johnson and other consumers of the cancer risks posed by its weedkillers.

Bayer says that the California ruling went against scientific evidence. FP

“On the basis of scientific conclusions, the views of worldwide regulatory authorities and the decades-long practical experience with glyphosate use, Bayer is convinced that glyphosate is safe and does not cause cancer,” the company was quoted as saying by AFP.

It said other court proceedings with other juries might “arrive at different conclusions” than the jury which ruled in the California lawsuit, AFP reported.

Last year the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that the chemical was not likely carcinogenic to humans, but the World Health Organization in 2015 classified it as “probably carcinogenic.”

Last year also saw EU countries vote to renew the license of glyphosate. FP

Production of whole wheat flour in the second quarter of 2018 was 5.386 million cwts, a figure very near the 5.35 million cwts milled in the second quarter of 2017, according to data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

At 5.386 million cwts, production was up 0.7% from the same period last year and compared with 5.186 million cwts in April-June 2016 and 5.513 million cwts in 2015.

Whole wheat flour accounted for 5.1% of all U.S. flour production in the second quarter, the same percentage as a year earlier.

In the first six months of 2018, whole wheat flour production was 11.097 million cwts, down 53,000 cwts from 11.15 million cwts in the first half of 2017 and 10.701 million cwts in the first half of 2016.

Whole wheat flour production has fluctuated from one quarter to the next but overall longer-term trends appear fairly flat, smoothing out short-term swings. At the end of the second quarter, the trailing 12-month production figure for whole wheat flour was 22.466 million cwts, versus 22.43 million cwts at the end of the first quarter and 22.519 million cwts in 2017. The 12-month trailing figure has been between 22 million and 23 million cwts each of the last eight quarters.

Production of whole wheat semolina in the second quarter was 130,000 cwts, up 5,000 cwts, or 4%, from 125,000 cwts in the second quarter last year. Whole wheat semolina accounted for 1.7% of all semolina production, versus 1.6% in the second quarter of 2017.

Year-to-date whole wheat semolina production was 309,000 cwts, up 6% from 291,000 cwts in the second quarter of 2017.

Excluding semolina, production of whole wheat flour in the second quarter was 5.256 million cwts, up 0.6% from 5.225 million cwts in the second quarter last year. Whole wheat accounted for 5.4% of all flour excluding semolina, the same percentage as a year earlier. WG

South African feed sales have started showing signs of stabilising after facing several challenges over the past 3 to 4 years, while achieving a smaller than expected drop in sales for the 2017/18 AFMA statistical year. According to the executive director of the Animal Feed Manufacturers’ Association (AFMA), De Wet Boshoff, AFMA feed sales for 2017/18 showed a negative growth of only 0,7% compared to the enormous drop in sales of 6,2% experienced during 2016/17, the highest percentage decrease in feed sales AFMA members have ever experienced.

The dramatic feed sales loss experienced in 2016/17 was the direct consequence of the challenges the livestock and poultry industries had to face and overcome. Initially, the focus was on the poultry industry having to deal with the dumping of cheap imports from the EU (within the EPA free trade agreement), the duty-free quota allowed under the AGOA agreement from the US in 2016/17, which was followed by cheap dumped product from Brazil in the latter half of 2017 that continued into 2018,” said Boshoff.

If the challenges in the trade arena weren’t enough, the poultry industry was further struck by the deadly Avian Influenza (AI) and vast numbers of birds had to be culled during 2016/17 to stop the spreading of the outbreaks.

The culling had the largest influence specifically on broilers and layers, with the Western Cape being hit the hardest by the AI outbreaks. According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), about 2,5 million birds died or had to be culled to stop the spreading. The direct effect of these actions on animal feed sales, is clearly displayed by Table 1.

Table 1: AFMA feed sales – 2015 to 2018 (AFMA Statistical year Apr-Mar)

Source: AFMA Stats

Following the 2017 winter season and after vigorous biosecurity measures applied by poultry and related industries brought an end to AI outbreaks, matters eventually started to settle and industry began their recovery process.

While South Africa dealt with its AI outbreaks starting in 2016, imports however continued. During 2017, outbreaks of AI in the EU and US resulted in a slow-down in imports from these regions, allowing Brazil a field day in filling this gap, keeping imports at the same levels as in 2016.

Figure 1: Poultry Imports into South Africa


Source: SARS

While the focus was directed towards the poultry sector, feed sales experienced a double blow according to Boshoff, with the worst drought in South African history having devastating effects on other livestock species, specifically beef and sheep due to the lack of absence of grazing. This left producers with no option other than reducing their herds dramatically and retaining only their breeding stock, so as to rebuild their herds again after the drought.

Table 1 contains a short summary of AFMA feed sales for the last three statistical years. The impact of the drought on beef and sheep saw feed sales dropping by 16,3% (±170 000 tons of feed). It is encouraging to see that this category has already started recovering in the last year, although it will take three to four years to fully recover to previous levels. One hundred percent of the drop in layer feed sales was due to AI and we expect a full recovery of these lost volumes by the end of the next financial year, if we are able to remain AI-free during this period.  The drop in both broiler and breeder feed was due to AI and poultry imports. While we do expect a full recovery from the impact of AI, the negative effect of poultry imports will remain.

Boshoff concludes saying that the animal feed sector is positively but anxiously awaiting outstanding outcomes of the special Poultry Task Force initiated by government under the co-leadership of the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) and the poultry industry in late 2016. These outcomes still need to be agreed upon and implemented. Should these outcomes materialise, it will not only benefit the feed sector, but the entire grains and oilseeds value chain of South Africa. This would most definitely lead to policy certainty, paving the way for investment and growth coupled with the potential of vast job creation in these sectors. This will put the industry on the road towards achieving the main outcomes of the National Development Plan (NDP). – Press release

The International Grains Council (IGC) on July 26 lowered its forecast for total grains production in 2018-19 to 2.059 billion tonnes, down from 2.077 billion tonnes in early July 2, and down from 2.091 billion tonnes forecast for 2017-18.


Total grains consumption is forecast at 2.128 billion tonnes, down from 2.131 billion tonnes in early July and compared with 2.109 billion tonnes in 2017-18.

The forecast for total grains carryover stocks was lowered to 532 million tonnes, down from 544 million tonnes a month ago and down from 601 million tonnes in 2017-18.

“Significant downgrades for wheat and barley in the E.U. and the CIS are largely behind an 18-million-tonne (month-on-month) cut in the forecast for world total grains (wheat and coarse grains) production in 2018-19, to a three-year low of 2.059 billion,” the IGC noted in its July 26 report. “Furthermore, with disappointing results being reported from ongoing harvesting, there is the potential for further output cuts in future Grain Market Reports.”

Corn production in 2018-19 is forecast at 1.052 billion tonnes, unchanged from early July but up from 1.044 billion tonnes in 2017-18. Consumption is forecast at 1.098 billion tonnes, up from 1.096 billion tonnes in early July and compared with 1.079 billion tonnes in 2017-18.

Global wheat production in 2018-19 is forecast at 721 million tonnes, down from 737 million tonnes in early July and compared with 758 million tonnes forecast for 2017-18. Consumption also was forecast lower, at 739 million tonnes compared with 743 million tonnes a month ago. The IGC forecast 2017-18 global wheat consumption at 736 million tonnes.

Soybean production in 2018-19 is forecast at 359 million tonnes, up from 358 million tonnes in early July and up from 338 million tonnes in 2017-18. Consumption is forecast at 356 million tonnes, down from 358 million tonnes a month ago and 344 million a year ago.

Rice production in 2018-19 is forecast at 491 million tonnes, unchanged from early July, and up from 488 million tonnes in 2017-18. Rice consumption also is forecast unchanged, at 493 million tonnes, which compares with 488 million tonnes in 2017-18.

The IGC Grains and Oilseeds Index (GOI) increased 3%, led by gains in wheat and barley, the IGC said.

“Background uncertainty about the implications of global trade disputes was again an important market factor, contributing to price weakness at times,” the IGC said. “However, with the focus more recently returning to supply and demand fundamentals, including worsening crop prospects in some key northern hemisphere growers, the index subsequently strengthened.” WG

The State Food and Grain Corporation of Ukraine (SFGCU) said it shipped more than 1 million tonnes of grains to China National Complete Engineering Corp. (CCEC) in 2017-18, more than double the amount exported during the 2016-17 marketing year.

The SFGCU said corn accounts for about 90% of the grains shipped to CCEC.

In total, the SFGCU said it shipped more than 2.2 million tonnes of grains during the 2017-18 marketing year. Corn accounted for 40% of exports, followed by wheat, at 37%, and barley at 18%. The agency said exports of soybean, rapeseed and pea doubled compared with totals in 2016-17. WG

Driven by corn and barley, Romanian grain exports are estimated to increase by 10% during the 2017-18 marketing year, according to a July 5 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Corn exports increased by almost 40% during the first half of 2017-18, following the previous year’s bumper crop, the USDA said. Exports to Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece almost tripled during the first six months.

Barley exports rose by 47% during the first nine months of 2017-18 compared with the previous year. The biggest E.U. buyer was Spain, which imported four times its usual amount, the USDA said.

In the same report, the USDA said grain production in Romania in 2018-19 is forecast to decline by 8%, while grain exports are expected to fall by 11%.

Total corn output for 2018-19 is forecast to decline 10% to 10.7 million tonnes. Wheat output is expected to drop by 6% from the previous year. WG

Conditions in the U.S. market for both organic and conventional Mexican mangoes have overall been stronger than last year despite greater supplies, according to a representative of grower-exporter Crespo.

Kent mangoes, Rosario, Sinaloa

Nissa Pierson, who heads up the company’s organic program, said the northern states of Nayarit and Sinaloa are now in peak production.

The season kicked off in February in the southern states of Chiapas and Oaxaca and is expected to last into September, depending on the weather, she said.

Many growers are reporting a year-on-year volume rise of around 15%.

“So far it’s been really great on the organics side. We’ve really been neck-and-neck with demand, with a lot of different moments where demand has pushed past supply a little bit. In years past, especially at this time of year, mangoes have become very voluminous and prices get really low,” she said

“The conventional market has also been higher and demand has been stronger this year, which has helped keep organic prices and demand more stable.”

Sizing has been a challenge this campaign, according to Pierson, with much of the fruit starting off the season with larger than ideal but is now too small.

“The market’s constantly having to adjust to that, and especially on the conventional side it becomes a lot more difficult. Organic demand is still kind of driving the sizing to be a little more flexible than conventional,” she said.

Growth for organic mangoes is strongest in the smaller retailers more geared toward natural foods, Pierson said, noting there has been an “extraordinary” 25% growth on organic Ataulfo demand. The company is seeing steady growth in the mass market retailers, but at a slower rate than the stores with smaller footprints.

Planting trends

A lot of orchards have been planted in Mexico’s early growing regions in the south of the country on the back of strong growth toward the early part of the season, she added.

Crespo Organic Mangoes – Kent, Tommy Atkins, Haden, Ataulfo

“It’s growing rapidly in the winter and the fall. Also, it used to be that as soon as the domestic stonefruit came on in the summer everybody would drop mangoes, but we’re not seeing that drop anymore. Mangoes continue to have front and center large displays from the early Mexican season onwards,” she said.

As well as the planting trend toward early season production, Pierson also said that over the years a lot of growers have moved over to the Tommy Atkins variety, due to its benefits both for growers and consumers.

“Tommy Atkins tend to survive hot water baths, that resist disease better than some of the others, and they travel better,” she said.

“Year ago everybody would have said they don’t like the Tommy Atkins, but I think that as people are learning more about mangoes…a lot of the things that we thought to be true aren’t necessarily true. People would always say the Tommy Atkins is too stringy, however, it’s its one the best mangoes because of the fibrous flesh, for example, it retains its shape for cubing for salads.

“So I think that as consumers are learning more about each varietal they’re starting to appreciate the nuances of each and for the most part just enjoying mangoes.”

Social media competitions for the summer

Consumer education is an important aspect of what Crespo does, Pierson said. During July, it is also holding two social media competitions – #SavorSummerMangoes, which lets consumers show off mangoes’ savory side with photos of their creative recipe ideas, and #KidsCutMangoes, an Instagram contest that demonstrates the best mango cutting method for kids, ‘the Mango Hack’.

Crespo owns the largest mango packhouse in Mexico by capacity (see video below) which is able to handle 14 truckloads a day, and grows most of the fruit it sells on its own farms.

Pierson said the company is poised for organic mango growth in the future, with the majority of its orchards already certified organic, but organic fruit often being sold under its conventional label.

“Organics is a finicky business, you need to have the right sizes and the right volumes and when people need them, so we kind of concentrate on building programs versus just selling mangoes. We’re in it for the long, sustainable haul,” she said.

“The Crespo family’s been doing this a very long time, since the 60s, so our goal really on organics is to really build large programs with regional partners – whether it be retailers, wholesalers, distributors, even processors – and really focus on that. Educating consumers is a huge part of what we do and what we feel helps sell more mangoes.”

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