As for the general trends currently being seen in the plant-based raw materials market, it is a very busy buying season for various types of bakery supplies. All ingredients used in bread making are selling like hot cakes (coincidence?). It’s not entirely clear why. Perhaps bakeries are already stocking up for the coming fall and winter.
We have also noticed over the past few weeks that most individual requests tend to be for smaller quantities than usual. We ourselves are curious to see how long this trend will last, and will certainly monitor it closely.
Of great interest in general are sweeteners and sweetening agents, as well as other raw materials (such as Citric Acid) used in the production of sweet drinks and other delicacies, whose consumption increases in the summer.
As for Native Corn Starch, there is some demand, including from Southern Europe. The price has started to rise, which is not accepted by buyers at this time. After European producers raised prices, product from outside the region also appeared on the continent. Inquiries for Native Wheat Starch are now mainly for Q3 and Q4. Demand for the product is coming mostly from the food sector; paper manufacturers are not particularly interested for the time being. There are shortages of Native Potato Starch, as there is still some time before the next harvest and existing stocks are slowly running out. For this reason, prices are relatively high, but currently it is difficult to convince buyers to accept them. One of the larger suppliers of Native Tapioca Starch has stopped offering the product in 25 kilogram bags, which is a challenge for many processors. Many are now on the lookout for packaging of this type. Those who are lucky (whether it is luck or perhaps the right business partners…) manage to catch Native Tapioca Starch in 25 kg bags.
The slowdown in the end-product market plays an important role in the current situation in the Modified Starches sector. Customers are increasingly turning to supermarkets’ own brands, making it difficult for manufacturers of other brands to sell products such as sauces or ketchups from their warehouses. As a result, demand for Modified Starches is declining. Until recently, we wrote about shortages, especially for Modified Potato Starch and Modified Waxy Corn Starch. Temporarily, there is more of all Modified Starches than the market needs. This is quite an interesting development, considering that there has been no new crop since then, but we explained the reasons a few sentences earlier.
We are getting many requests for Vital Wheat Gluten for large quantities in Q3 and Q4, but at the same time some say there is virtually no demand. That would explain the recent price drop, wouldn’t it? Corn Gluten Meal is in demand, but it’s difficult to close contracts right now. Buyers are looking for special offers and very attractive deals, which are hard to come by at the moment given the high and ever-increasing transportation costs. The situation is quite different for Potato Protein, for which demand is currently low. The market’s needs are met for the moment, partly due to reduced pig and cattle herds. At the same time, pork prices are rising, so an increase in pork production can be forecast soon, which in turn will be reflected in an increase in demand for Potato Protein, a popular additive for pig feed.
The price of Sugar has risen dramatically, including that produced in Poland. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find Sugar on the market. All these conditions are partly due to the ban on sugar exports imposed by Ukraine at the beginning of June, which is expected to last until mid-September and predicts further price increases on world markets in the coming months. The hottest time of the year for sweetener syrups consumption is currently underway. While processors have undoubtedly had to stock up earlier for the current season, evidence suggests that they will be talking about buying Glucose-Fructose Syrup and similar substances for next season in just a few weeks, so it is almost certain that both demand and price will rise in the near future.
Polish orchards suffer from hailstorms
A few days ago, hailstorms swept over parts of Poland and damaged cherry orchards, among others. According to cherry growers, losses in some orchards were up to 70%. Not only the fruits, but also the leaves of the trees, were crushed and cut by sharp hailstones. Fruit growers are planning to use chemicals to help the plants recover, but this is a difficult task because the high daytime temperatures mean they can only carry out such measures in the evening.
Farmers in Bosnia and Herzegovina are in a very difficult situation
Farmers in Bosnia and Herzegovina are particularly affected by the difficult weather conditions and the global economic crisis. In some regions, the situation is extremely difficult. Farmers stress that the very low global wheat prices mean that after selling their grain, they are not able to pay all the costs associated with production, let alone talk about a profit. As a result, they warn, next year’s production is in jeopardy unless governmental system solutions are implemented.
More bad news for the Polish fruit industry
Representatives of Polish fruit growers are sounding the alarm that Ukrainian strawberries are flooding the Polish market and negatively affecting local growers. According to them, many processors producing frozen foods, juices and fruit purées are eager to reach for the much cheaper strawberries from Ukraine. In addition, local growers express concern that incoming strawberries are not properly inspected, and they expect more thorough inspection of imported fruit.
Brazil has begun a 90-day soybean-free period
The annual soybean-free period has already begun in many Brazilian states on various dates. Farmers must remove all live soybean plants. The goal of these measures is to reduce as much as possible the likelihood of live soybean rust spores surviving from one growing season to the next. Spores can survive about 60 days without a host plant, so 90 days without soybeans in a region almost certainly eliminates infection the following season. Preventing infection of the crop in turn saves growers money because fewer fungicides need to be used to control the disease.
Unexpected snow in Bolivia
Record low temperatures in mid-June brought snow to selected regions of Bolivia. As a result of the low temperatures and surprising weather conditions, many cattle died and crops were permanently damaged. Vast areas of Santa Cruz, an agricultural region known for growing sorghum, soybeans and wheat, were under snow. The top priority now is to replace fertilizer and damaged seeds wherever possible.
Lower quality grain in the United States
Although most market analysts had expected USDA to lower its quality ratings for corn and soybeans due to hot and dry weather conditions in the central United States, the decline exceeded their expectations. Corn quality ratings dropped from 61% of the crop rated good to excellent the previous week to 55% on June 18. Another 33% of the crop was rated good, while the remaining 12% was rated poor or very poor. Soybean ratings dropped from 59% in good or excellent condition to 54%. Another 34% were rated good, while the remaining 12% were rated poor or very poor.
Asia & Oceania
Lower rapeseed production in Australia.
The latest forecasts indicate that Australian rapeseed production could fall by 41% – to 4.9 million tons – in the 2023/24 season. El Niño is cited as the reason for the decline, as well as a partial reduction in acreage. Also, not insignificant in determining the decline is the fact that Australia’s oil seed crop has been unusually high in recent years.
India is cutting back on sugar exports
India plans to delay issuing an export permit for sugar until at least the middle of next season due to expected production losses from El Niño. A delay or halt in India’s sugar supplies could contribute significantly to the rise in sugar prices on world markets, which are already near multi-year highs. The government does not want to make the mistake of issuing an early export approval after sugar production already declined last year, despite more favorable weather conditions.
Decline in palm oil production in Malaysia
In some regions of Malaysia, the world’s second-largest palm oil producer, palm trees are suffering from water shortages due to the first signs of El Niño, which could significantly reduce crop yields. Not only are the plants not getting as much water as they need, the dry soil is not conducive to the uptake of natural and fertilizer-derived nutrients. In addition, Malaysian palm oil producers have not yet recovered from the effects of the pandemic and the Russo-Ukrainian war, which have led to restrictions on labor and fertilizer availability, also negatively impacting yields. It looks like the world will have to deal with limited availability of the cheapest and most popular plant-based oil.