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By Arama Kukutai, co-founder and partner, Finistere Ventures, and Kyle Datta, Senior Advisor Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the food and agricultural system in modern history. How can we provide health and food security for a rapidly growing population approaching 10 billion people, despite more constrained land and water resources, while mitigating the resulting greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint? Today, that footprint stands at 10 to 19 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (Gt CO2e)  or 25% to 35% of total human emissions. As global population and affluence grows, GHG emissions are predicted to more than triple to 31 Gt CO2e unless new technology and better management practices arise to mitigate this huge impact, a change on par with that seen in the Green Revolution . Taxing carbon works in the energy system, but applying the same mechanism to food will lead to hundreds of millions more food-insecure people. In the developed world, consumers are highly price inelastic when food producers pass on taxes by increasing food price, but in the developing world, lower-income consumers are very sensitive to changes in staples like rice, milk, or meat, and will go hungry. Can we find a way to feed the planet without burning it down? There is a better way. At Finistere Ventures, we believe that the $7 billion of venture funding committed to innovation in agtech since the start of 2009 has the potential to: • Catalyze new business models and management practices • Enable structural changes in the food and agriculture system that could achieve the policy goals of lower GHG • Improve food production, affordability and farmer profitability • Improve population health equitably through better diets and nutrition Our technology investment thesis focuses on sustainable intensification of production, climate neutral meat supply chains, digitization of supply chains, and acceleration of carbon sequestration, coupled with consumers shifting to more plant-based diets that leverage the urban consumer trends of convenience, health, and fresh. But investment into agtech that can contribute to these goals has historically lagged venture committed to cleantech. While much has been written about the need for increased productivity to feed 10 billion people by 2050, this comes potentially at massive GHG and environmental impact. Even if historical productivity trends continue, most authoritative studies expect net GHG emissions to increase from 10 Gt CO2e to between 12 and 14 Gt CO2e . Agriculture is responsible for 70% of human water use, about 78% of eutrophication and 61% of land deforestation. Most of the impacts are caused by animal husbandry, particularly beef and dairy cattle. Can technological innovation and farmer practices solve this latest twist on a Malthusian conundrum? Changing Demand Patterns Offset Changes in demand patterns do not mean that the world’s population must stop eating meat. In fact, overall, we expect meat consumption will increase. In urban centers, a dietary shift is already underway in the high meat consumption countries being enabled by technology clusters around alternative proteins and sugars, coupled with climate footprint labeling in institutions and restaurants. These developments combined with technologies that automate delivery, order fulfillment and traceability at scale could collectively reduce meat consumption. However, this is offset by rising developing country population and affluence increasing meat and dairy consumption, leading to a projected 76% global net  increase in animal protein production . Climate Neutral Meat Within Reach? We will need to move towards climate-neutral meat production. This audacious goal is within reach. Already precision pastoral systems for dairy and beef cattle generate just 40% of the GHG emissions of typical feedlot systems (20 kg CO2e/100 g protein) and the majority of remaining emissions are enteric methane production for rumination. These can be reduced by 30% to 40%  via a combination of genetic traits, selective breeding (natural variation is 11% to 24%), accelerated progeny dissemination, gene-edited forages with higher yields and energy, and optimized feed additives or vaccines that inhibit methanogenic bacteria in the rumen without compromising milk quality, or milk or beef production. When the soil carbon sequestration of approximately 3 tons CO2e per hectare annually from multi-paddock intensive grazing is included, the net result is nearly climate-neutral cattle production. The recently announced corporate commitments of Danone and Danish Crown to be climate neutral by 2050 are the start of a market for identity-preserved low carbon meat and dairy market, effectively de-commoditizing this sector and creating competitive advantage. This shift is likely to be accelerated by climate emissions cap legislation that includes livestock, as in New Zealand and California. Venture capital commitments to the animal tech subsegment of the wider agtech space represented 47 deals comprising, in aggregate, just under $312 million last year alone, per PitchBook data. This sub-segment represents a large proportion of investments towards technologies that improve the sustainability of animal husbandry through reduction in antibiotic use, improvements in feed conversion, and reduction of methane emissions through technology. Examples of such companies include the French biotech startup InnovaFeed, which produces insect-based proteins for use in animal feed and aquaculture. The company secured some €55 million (approximately $61.25 million) in 2018 to bring its technology to scale. As financings in this space continue to grow, a legitimate question remains as to which of these technologies pathways are scalable and economically viable. Novel Production Systems Eliminate Land and Water Constraints In the US alone, to meet the dietary demands for vegetables in USDA My Plate guidelines  would require another 6 million acres of scale growing regions with Mediterranean climates, which simply don’t exist. Sustainable intensification using controlled environment agriculture (CEA) coupled with machine learning and automation is already restructuring production of high value crops such as leafy greens, berries, and fruiting vegetables that are land use restricted, high in water use and labor dependent. CEA promises 200x to 300x the land productivity, less than 5% of the water use, requiring no pesticides, and has zero fertilizer run off with a lifecycle carbon footprint approaching field emissions parity with the next generation of vertical farm companies like Plenty. In 2017, we joined the $200 million Series B round for Plenty led by SoftBank, which brought the indoor ag startup’s total funding to some $226 million following our initial commitment to their Series A raised the prior year. Last year, venture investment into indoor ag represented some $274 million in total capital raised across 43 completed financing rounds, topped by the $90 million raised by Bowery in a Series B round led by GV, per PitchBook data. The availability of regional fresh produce with on-demand production and short supply chains has enabled “Amazoned” e-food and e-grocery delivery models to provide the fresh, health, and traceable food that urban consumers are already experiencing as the new standard. Genetic Aikido Unleashes Step Change Productivity Natural genetic and physiological processes in plants create feedback loops that regulate photosynthetic productivity. What if we worked with those processes via gene editing? A cluster of fundamental life sciences technologies underpin tremendous gains in agricultural productivity. One of our companies, Biolumic, unlocks the genetic plant potential through biomimetic light treatment of seeds that increases growth by 20% to 30%. Another, ZeaKal, improves the photosynthetic efficiency of plants by stimulating their feedback loops with oil fixation driven sugar scarcity, effectively turning C3 plants into C4 plants—a metabolic improvement of 20% to 24% across a wide number of species, from soybeans to rye grass. Field trials show that the 24% increase in biomass equates to a 5% increase of yields in soybeans, combined with a 17% in oil yields without loss of protein, which collectively improves US soybean profits per acre by 100%. In forage grasses, the 24% increase in biomass and 7% higher oil yield not only improves feed productivity, it also fixes more than 20% of soil carbon and may reduce enteric fermentation. And we’re not alone in backing these technologies. In 2018, VC firms committed $280.4 million to companies operating in this space across 21 completed deals, per PitchBook data, with rounds raised by the likes of Cibus, Benson Hill Biosystems and Inari leading the way. These same technologies, when coupled with CEA systems’ ability to enable multiple field trials in a single year, facilitate rapid prototyping in breeding to meet the adaptation challenges of drought tolerant and salinity tolerant staples, required to feed the rapidly growing populations where climate change disruption will be the greatest. Digitization of the Food System: Mining for Improved Profitability Impact investment in the food system can fundamentally increase productivity and eliminate waste, providing both improved profit and sustainability outcomes—not a trade-off but a multiplier. Globally, 25% to 30% of food is wasted , albeit for different reasons in developed vs. developing economies. There are already startups tackling this opportunity, which we see as “found money” for both farmers and their supply chain partners. Food waste will be radically reduced by employing digital supply chain technologies in a largely analog system. In developed countries, 20% of the food produced is left in the field, when it could be captured and sold to food processors via regional market-making technology being realized by startups like Aggregator and Full Harvest. The same type of regional market-making technology, coupled with sensors, data analytics, and automation applies to pre-consumer waste across the distribution supply chain and retail inventories. On the demand side, data analytics and AI on consumer behavior can reduce overproduction waste in institution cafeterias, restaurants and vending. Between 100 and 400 grams  for each kilogram of nitrogen applied is wasted to denitrification or run off, which causes water pollution of nearby lakes and streams. The digitization of farmer practices through technologies such as soil-based and aerial sensors, drones, data analytics, pest and pathogen detection integrated into a prescriptive dashboard have multiplied over the last five years without delivering fully on the promise of increased profits through improved suitability and management practices. But digitization will continue to evolve and grow in scale, pushed by input producers, channels and platform companies, and demanded by food companies and consumers dissatisfied with a food and farming “black box” approach. One solution we see is the services developed by pioneer ag-fintech startup Growers Edge Financial, who are addressing both adoption and transparency through the coupling of new financial insurance instruments that underwrite the technology prescriptions improving crop yields while simultaneously addressing environmental impact. When combined with advanced fertilizer formulations, this technology cluster can substantially reduce nitrogen loss and other nutrient losses along with the water eutrophication it causes. The same technology will reduce the administrative and compliance burden on farmers as well as improve traceability and aid clean labeling. Scaling Globally: Leapfrog to Profitable Sustainability Conventional climate models assume that developing nations in Asia and Africa will expand their agricultural systems using conventional technologies. It does not have to be that way. Just as Africa and Asia leapfrogged copper wire telephones for cell phone communication, advanced productivity systems can be designed for developing nations to catapult their agriculture into the 21st century. Our thesis is that the food system is poised for the same radical efficiency improvements and structural transformation that we witnessed in the energy sector over the last decade. As prudent investors, this does not mean that all the valuations of over-hyped new foods are justified. Indeed, we expect a market correction and shakeout will occur, which happens in all venture-backed categories. VC activity in US-based cleantech vs. agtech companies, 2009-2018 Food and agriculture contribute more than 25% of greenhouse gas emissions, yet agriculture mitigation technologies have received only 1% of cleantech venture investment over the last decade . In the US, agriculture and food technologies internal rates of return have outperformed most cleantech investments, returning 16% compared to cleantech’s 13%, per PitchBook data. Despite its potential to help mitigate the worst effects of GHG, overall agtech investment in the US since the start of 2009 has significantly lagged cleantech commitments, comprising just 11% of combined venture capital invested through last year. This represents a call to action for impact investors, mission investment philanthropies and endowments to shift their attention to the food and agricultural sector, where the trajectory of the innovation continuum and scaling of dissemination is an immense opportunity. > Catch up with Finistere Ventures for additional industry insights. > >  IPPC Report on Land and Climate 2019, Panel 2 >  WRI 2019 >  Using the FAO and CGIAR Baseline of 10 Gt CO2e >  “World agriculture: towards 2030/2050,” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2012 >  Ibid. >  Report of the Biological Emissions Reference Group,” New Zealand, 2018 >  UCS estimates 88% increase in vegetable farmed lands to meet diet vs. USDA vegetables, fruits and nuts base of 8 million acres >  IPPC Climate and Land Use 2019 >  Farm 2050 nutrient white paper, Poore Science 2018. >  Cambridge Associates, cited in Stanford Innovation Review article by PRIME
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Analyst Green Pool has raised its forecast for an anticipated global sugar deficit in the 2019/20 season to 3.67 million tonnes, raw value, from a previous projection of 1.62 million. The Australia-based analyst said on Friday that the main changes to its balance sheet were reductions in crop forecasts for Centre-South Brazil and India. Sugar production in the Centre-South region of Brazil was projected at 25.8 million tonnes, tel quel, down from a previous forecast of 26.8 million.
Prime Minister Imran Khan's government, which last month agreed a $6 billion bailout with the International Monetary Fund, has faced growing public anger at the relentless increase in prices since it came to power a year ago. Prices of food staples like wheat, meat, pulses, onions, sugar, beans and potatoes, saw double-digit increases, with overall food and non-alcoholic beverage prices rising 7.9%. In addition, there were sharp rises in energy and fuel prices, with gas prices up 143% from the previous year and petrol prices up 23%.
World food prices eased for a second month running in July after five consecutive monthly gains, pushed down by falls in the prices of some cereals, dairy products and sugar, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) food price index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 170.9 points last month from a downwardly revised 172.7 points in June. FAO did not update its forecast for world cereal production on Thursday.
(Bloomberg) -- The volume of sugar expected to leave ports in top exporting-nation Brazil is shrinking at a time when it typically increases as the nation’s seasonal peak approaches.Ports in the South American country are expected to ship 364,339 metric tons of sweetener in the coming weeks, half of the levels scheduled a year ago, according to shipping agency SA Commodities. Lineups should be rising, given the record-high volume of sugar to be delivered to settle the July contract on ICE Futures U.S.“Demand continues to be weak while buyers are still stocked up following years of global surplus,” Bruno Lima, sugar head at INTL FCStone in Campinas, said in interview.Last year, Brazilian sugar exports slumped to the lowest since 2008 after ample global supplies pushed down futures in New York, encouraging local millers to divert most of the cane juice to make ethanol. That slowdown is continuing this year, with shipments down 21% in the first half versus the same period of 2018, government data show.Sugar stockpiles in the center-south growing area are probably 41% below last year and 37% below the five-year average, according to INTL FCStone. About 11% less sugar is being produced in this year’s crop than in the same period last year, according to industry group Unica.To contact the reporter on this story: Fabiana Batista in Sao Paulo at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: James Attwood at firstname.lastname@example.org, Millie MunshiFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
India will build a buffer stock of 4 million tonnes of sugar in an attempt to cut a surplus of the sweetener and support local prices that are under pressure due to record production, the government said in a statement on Wednesday. The world's second biggest sugar producer will spend 16.74 billion rupees ($242.68 million) on buffer stocks in the year starting Aug. 1, it said. India had a buffer stock of 3 million tonnes of sugar in the current year.
(Bloomberg) -- India plans to bolster efforts to boost sugar exports and help beleaguered mills in defiance of criticism from Brazil and Australia that its existing subsidies are keeping global prices low and hurting their farmers.The government may reimburse exporters some ocean freight and marketing expenses, according to people familiar with the proposal, who asked not to be identified as it isn’t public. The new measures would be in addition to current subsidies, which help millers with local transport costs and clearing arrears to growers, and be compliant with World Trade Organization rules, they said.Such a move by India, struggling with record stockpiles, may rankle other producing countries. Australia, Brazil and Guatemala have jointly requested the WTO set up a panel to challenge India’s subsidies and make the nation more accountable for its “trade-distorting” policies. India vies with Brazil as the world’s biggest sugar producer.The government is also mulling an increase in buffer stockpiles, and may ask millers to boost sugar reserves to 5 million tons from 3 million tons announced earlier, the people said. India may boost spending on storage expenses to 20 billion rupees ($290 million) from 11.75 billion rupees. A food ministry spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.Helping HandIndia approved a plan in September to provide 55.38 billion rupees to sugar mills to boost exports and cut a domestic surplus. It also more than doubled the subsidy it pays for cane in the year that began in October to help mills clear dues to farmers. Plus, the nation gave the go-ahead in February for a proposal to ask commercial banks to lend as much as 105.4 billion rupees in subsidized loans to help mills pay growers.A policy to help boost sugar exports with a view to reducing reserves should be announced this month, according to the Indian Sugar Mills Association. Opening stockpiles on Oct. 1 are seen at 14.62 million tons, about 9.5 million tons more than the requirement to meet local demand for more than 2 months.Mills are looking to export a record 7 million tons in the year starting in October, according to the association. That compares with about 3 million tons estimated for 2018-19. The group has asked the government to provide export subsidies, but says any help should be within WTO rules. It also wants the government-controlled minimum price to be raised to 35-36 rupees per kilo from 31 rupees.Some partial relief from bulging stockpiles may come from lower crop. Sugar output may drop to a three-year low of 28.2 million tons in 2019-20 from a record of 32.95 million tons this year as dry weather parches fields in some major growing areas, according to the association.To contact the reporter on this story: Pratik Parija in New Delhi at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Unni Krishnan at firstname.lastname@example.org, ;Anna Kitanaka at email@example.com, Atul Prakash, James PooleFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
U.S. commodities trader Bunge Ltd and British energy company BP Plc said on Monday they will merge their Brazilian sugar and ethanol operations to create the world's third-largest sugarcane processor. The joint venture is the largest deal in Brazil's bioenergy sector since Royal Dutch Shell joined forces with Cosan to form industry leader Raízen in 2011.
Dalmia Bharat Sugar and Industries Limited (NSE:DALMIASUG) shareholders might be concerned after seeing the share...
Gautam Goel became the CEO of Dhampur Sugar Mills Limited (NSE:DHAMPURSUG) in 2013. This analysis aims first to...
Every year, tens of millions of Hindus flock to the Venkateswara Temple in Andhra Pradesh to pay tribute to site's patron deity and pick up some of its famous sweets, the legendary "Tirupati laddu". The traditional delicacy is baked with sugar, flour, ghee, nuts and raisins and studded with cardamom, which has surged in price this year as India's erratic weather ravages production of the pod, known as "the Queen of Spices". The temple typically buys 120 tonnes a year of high quality small cardamom pods, the most sought after kind, to meet demand.
Brazil and India are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding on production and trade of ethanol when leaders of the two countries meet in Brasilia later this year, an industry group said on Tuesday. According to UDOP, a Brazilian association of sugar and ethanol producers, the suggestion to discuss a partnership on ethanol came from the Indian government, which has a target to gradually increase blending of ethanol to gasoline to up to 20%. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was reelected in May and will make an official visit to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in November.
India will keep its sugar export subsidies despite complaints to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) from rival producers Brazil and Australia, though it will tweak how it provides them, four sources directly involved in the matter said. The export subsidies are designed to increase shipments from the world's second-biggest sugar producer and reduce their brimming inventories. It will be provided without violating the WTO framework," said a senior government official involved in the policy making.
Commercial baby foods often contain too much sugar and display confusing ingredient lists, according to a UN report that proposed new guidelines Monday to improve infant diets. The World Health Organization (WHO) examined nearly 8,000 products from more than 500 stores in Austria, Bulgaria, Israel and Hungary between November 2017 and January 2018. The WHO noted that while foods that naturally contain sugars, such as fruits and vegetables, can be appropriate in young child diets, "the very high levels of sugars present in commercial products is a cause for concern".
The Brazilian government said on Thursday it had asked the World Trade Organization to establish a panel aimed at resolving its dispute over Indian sugar subsidies, according to a joint statement by the foreign and agriculture ministries. The WTO's Dispute Settlement Body is expected to take up Brazil's request at its meeting scheduled for July 22, the statement said. Brazil alleges that the Indian government has taken actions that distort global sugar markets.
Indonesia will cut tariffs on sugar from India as part of efforts to help facilitate imports of the sweetener, Indonesia's trade minister told his counterpart in New Delhi, the Indian government said in a statement on Tuesday. On the other hand, Indonesia requested India to cut tariffs on refined palm oil imports from Jakarta, the statement said, after a bilateral meeting between Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita and Indian Commerce & Industry and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal. India is the world's biggest importer of palm oil.
Nelson Mandela’s family is partnering with Michael Sugar’s Sugar23 and ad agency DMA United to launch Mandela Media, in honor of the late South African leader. Mandela was an anti-apartheid revolutionary who spent 27 years in prison before becoming president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999 as the country's first black head of state, during […]
India is likely to produce 28.2 million tonnes of sugar in the season beginning Oct. 1, 2019, down 14.5 percent from a year earlier, a leading industry body said on Monday. India, the world's biggest consumer of sugar, is sitting on massive mounds of the sweetener, as mills struggle to export due to unattractive global prices. Despite estimates of lower output, India will be in a position to export sugar next year, the Indian Sugar Mills Association said in a statement.
Irmgard Velagapudi Rao is the CEO of K.C.P. Sugar and Industries Corporation Limited (NSE:KCPSUGIND). This report...