World Perspectives

Softs Recent Softs Analysis

softs

Perk up Attention

Exports point to climate change as the cause of the plateauing in global crop production but no where is it more apparent than in coffee production. Brazil is responsible for 40 percent of global coffee production and around 31 percent of global trade. This year, Brazil’s coffee exports w...

softs

How Sweet it Isn’t

In the past three years, India has switched from being the number four exporter of sugar in the world to number two. Over the past dozen years, its domestic production has grown by 56 percent, but its exports have exploded by 229 percent. It turns out there is a reason. In a WTO challenge by Au...

softs

Potato Trade Grows

Potatoes have taken a dietary beating for being a basic starch that raises blood sugar as fast as pure glucose. By contrast, whole wheat contains complex starch, plus protein and some fiber. However, potatoes may have high bioavailability of certain vitamins and minerals, plus other health bene...

softs

Cotton Beats Wheat

There is much consternation over the fact that global stocks-to-use in wheat is down to 12.5 percent and as a result, the price of the March SRW contract is up 65 percent. Yet the price on the December cotton contract is up 120 percent from its low. Cotton is not essential for the food supply...

softs

How Sweet it Isn't

  Two major U.S. sugar processors, U.S. Sugar and Imperial Sugar planned a merger, but the Justice Department is saying no. It warns that the duopoly would result in higher sugar prices in the Southeast. But higher sugar prices are the point of U.S. sugar policy. The government sets a floo...

softs

Orange Juice is Fleeting

In the spring of 2020 as COVID-19 was spreading, U.S. consumption of orange juice increased as consumers sought to inoculate themselves with vitamin C. However, the increase was fleeting and not reflected on a global scale. Consumers are seeking to reduce their consumption of sugary drinks at t...

softs

Volatility in Pistachios

The U.S. first displaced Iran as the world’s leading producer of pistachios in 2012 and for the past four years it has not even been a contest. Iran’s downfall was in part U.S. trade sanctions, but also its failure to manage water resources and disease problems properly. While the p...

softs energy

How Sweet It Isn't

Global sugar consumption has now paced below the population growth rate for three years in a row. After dipping sharply in 2019, per capita consumption continues to be lower than it was in the first part of the last decade. There are many factors involved including substitutes, price, and deman...

softs

2021 Sour Domestic Sugar Outlook

The MY 2020/21 outlook for sugar is for more domestic production and a reduction in imports, but with lower deliveries and increasing year-end stocks. Beet sugar production is up 133,662 short tons – raw value (STRV) based on higher extraction rates in Minnesota and North Dakota. Cane pro...

softs

Agriculture and RCEP

Asian leaders gather this Sunday to hopefully put the final touches on a trade agreement called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The negotiations have taken eight years and, as usual, the word comprehensive does not apply to agriculture. Likely exempt from tariff reductio...

feed-grains soy-oilseeds wheat

CFTC Approves Commodity Position Limits

One common thread running through part of the history of grain trading has been the subject of federally set limits on the size of positions that a trader could hold in grain and oilseed futures and options. On 15 October, the CFTC finally approved a new rule regarding commodity position limits...

softs

Could Be More Bearish

Trading grain is not as sexy now as it was back in 2007-2008, but it could be worse. Orange juice futures were a big deal in 1983 when the movie Trading Places was a Hollywood hit but the underlying commodity has been falling out of favor in recent years. Global production and trade have been t...

softs

Cocoa Canary

Given their inelasticity, staple agricultural commodities are a poor indicator of economic health. However, luxury food items like cocoa may be a better indicator of the world’s recovery from the coronavirus. The December contract was up about 2 percent in today’s trading but remain...

softs

Food versus Fiber

A common debate about a decade ago was framed as food versus fuel; should crops traditionally used for food instead be converted into biofuel, especially during a food shortage. Opponents of biofuel may continue to argue in favor of only crops for food but there was also a forecast of declining...

soy-oilseeds livestock softs

WHO Guidance Effectiveness

The World Health Organization’s Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office issued an advisory recently that advised people to consume unsaturated fats such as those in fish, avocado, nuts, olive oil, soy, canola, sunflower and corn instead of the saturated fat in meat, butter, palm and coconut...

softs

The Next China

The country with the largest population is China and India is second but agricultural marketers are always looking for alternative markets. Indonesia has 265 million people living on 17,000 islands with a total arable land base of just 13 percent. While its import policies have been designed to...

feed-grains soy-oilseeds wheat

Trade War Trade Impacts

The U.S.– China trade war has had a far more dramatic impact on American agriculture than it has had on farmers in the Middle Kingdom. In fiscal year 2017, the U.S. had a $16 billion agricultural trade surplus with China. In percentage terms, U.S. food sales to China that year were 142 pe...

feed-grains soy-oilseeds livestock

China In-Country Analysis

Livestock Live Hog Price Down 2 Percent, White Feather Broiler Rises By 11 Percent After peaking at RMB 40.28/kg ($5.73/kg) or RMB 18.27/lb. ($2.60/lb.) at the end of October, the national average live hog price has fallen for five straight weeks. Ending last week at RMB 31.61/kg ($4.50/kg) or...

softs feed-grains

A Faint Light from Golden Rice

As someone who has for many years pursued a deep interest in the business and economics of agriculture and food, one of the greatest frustrations and disappointments is the organized, systematic opposition to nearly all the scientific and technical advances in food and agricultural production d...

softs

Alternative Crops

U.S. cotton farmers are lamenting a season in which they planted a lot of acres, faced lower yields due to weather, lower prices due to competition from Brazil, and restricted markets due to the U.S. - China trade war. Still, natural fibers remain a buoyant market and cotton was always a fallba...

feed-grains soy-oilseeds wheat

The Long View

Grain traders from commodity fund managers to the big multinational agribusinesses have consistently complained about the lack of profitable trading opportunities during the past five years or so. Big crops and large stockpiles of corn, wheat and soybeans in both the U.S. and the world drove pr...

biofuel softs

Can’t Beat Beet Molasses

Molasses left over from the processing of beets for sugar is typically the poor cousin to the molasses that results from making sugar from sugarcane. Cane-based molasses has superior nutritional qualities and has historically earned a premium. USDA pricing from more than a decade ago shows a 50...

feed-grains soy-oilseeds wheat

Agricultural Funds and ETFs

The theory that commodities were a useful tool for anyone seeking to diversify an investment portfolio gained considerable popularity in the early years of the 21st century. This was based on studies indicating that commodity and equity prices often moved in opposite directions. The viability o...

feed-grains soy-oilseeds wheat

USDA Makes Changes to WASDE Tables

USDA announced this week that it will make some changes (noted below) to the monthly WASDE (supply and demand estimates) starting with the May report. While not huge, these modifications will likely add clarity and should have been implemented long ago. They will not affect the actual numbers b...

soy-oilseeds feed-grains softs

More Things to Keep You Up at Night

- Grain and oilseed markets were firm today, mostly on growing chatter that the U.S. and China are very close to reaching an agreement on trade. The devil is always in the details, which won’t be known until the deal is made public. Much of the commentary on various business channels toda...

softs soy-oilseeds wheat

Indian Subcontinent Regional Analysis

Higher Early Sugar Production and Slow Exports Could Pressure Prices Due to the early start of the 2018/19 sugarcane crushing season, Indian sugar mills were able to produce 21.93 MMT of sugar as of 15 February 2019 versus 20.36 MMT at the same point a year ago, an increase of 7.71 percent. Ano...

soy-oilseeds softs

Indian Subcontinent Regional Analysis

Ample Soybean Supplies Expected to Result in 1 MMT Carryover While the government of India (GOI) has projected 2018/19 (October-September) soybean production at 13.459 MMT, the Soybean Processors Association (SOPA) projects the total at 11.483 MMT, a difference of 1.976 MMT. Per available detai...

feed-grains soy-oilseeds softs

China In-Country Analysis

Market Trends A Tale of Two Years With the shutdown of the U.S. government over (at least temporarily), its official statistics are now available to the general public for analysis. Similarly, China’s curtailment of the widespread distribution of official data, the result of a crackdown o...

softs biofuel

Indian Subcontinent Regional Analysis

Cotton Imports to Surge on Lower Production; Prices Could Remain Depressed The Cotton Association of India (CAI) has now estimated cotton production in 2018/19 (October-September) at 33 million bales, down from last month’s estimate of 33.5 million bales as well as the government of India...

livestock feed-grains soy-oilseeds

Indian Subcontinent Regional Analysis

Poultry Sector Suffering Severe Losses; Imported Chicken Cheaper As a follow-up to the issue of rising feed prices that was discussed in the 11 January report (click here), the poultry sector’s margins continue to fall with the cost of production up at least 7.5 percent due to those price...

softs feed-grains

Indian Subcontinent Regional Analysis

Sugar Production Estimates Lowered Based on new satellite survey data from the Indian Sugar Mills Association’s (ISMA’s) satellite survey of sugarcane plantings, the sugar production estimate has been decreased from 31.5 MMT to 30.7 MMT. That is 4.3 MMT or 12.28 percent lower than t...

wheat feed-grains soy-oilseeds

Indian Subcontinent Regional Analysis

Rabi Sowing Down As of 18 January 2019, the total rabi planted area was down 4.8 percent versus 2017/18. While wheat is among the crops affected, pulses and coarse cereals, most especially pearl millet, are down significantly (see table below). The overal oilseed area has been good, however, as...

soy-oilseeds softs energy

Brainstorming without USDA

It takes something like the current partial shutdown of the U.S. government to make those involved with agricultural markets realize how much we depend on the stream of data from USDA. The regularity of things like export sales reports, livestock reports, and estimates of production, supplies a...

softs

Indian Subcontinent Regional Analysis

Pulse Prices Continue to Rise; GOI Restricts Imports   India’s Ministry of Commerce has extended the yellow pea import restriction through 31 March 2019. The import restrictions’ goal is to curb cheaper imports and help boost domestic pulse prices. The Government of India...

soy-oilseeds feed-grains softs

Indian Subcontinent Regional Analysis

Rapeseed-Mustard Prices Crash as Hopes of Exporting to China Vanish As relations between the U.S. and China thawed and a 90-day truce was called, all hopes of India exporting rapeseed-mustard meal and soymeal to the latter vanished. China was back in the market for U.S. soybeans. It did make st...

soy-oilseeds softs

Indian Subcontinent Regional Analysis

Vegetable Oil Imports Decline India’s vegetable oil imports totaled 1.073 MMT last month, a drop of 10.1 percent from 1.174 MMT in October and down 15.2 percent versus November 2017. In June 2018, the government of India (GOI) raised the duty on vegetable oils. The rates on crude palm oi...

softs

Perk up Attention

Exports point to climate change as the cause of the plateauing in global crop production but no where is it more apparent than in coffee production. Brazil is responsible for 40 percent of global coffee production and around 31 percent of global trade. This year, Brazil’s coffee exports w...

softs

How Sweet it Isn’t

In the past three years, India has switched from being the number four exporter of sugar in the world to number two. Over the past dozen years, its domestic production has grown by 56 percent, but its exports have exploded by 229 percent. It turns out there is a reason. In a WTO challenge by Au...

softs

Potato Trade Grows

Potatoes have taken a dietary beating for being a basic starch that raises blood sugar as fast as pure glucose. By contrast, whole wheat contains complex starch, plus protein and some fiber. However, potatoes may have high bioavailability of certain vitamins and minerals, plus other health bene...

softs

Cotton Beats Wheat

There is much consternation over the fact that global stocks-to-use in wheat is down to 12.5 percent and as a result, the price of the March SRW contract is up 65 percent. Yet the price on the December cotton contract is up 120 percent from its low. Cotton is not essential for the food supply...

softs

How Sweet it Isn't

  Two major U.S. sugar processors, U.S. Sugar and Imperial Sugar planned a merger, but the Justice Department is saying no. It warns that the duopoly would result in higher sugar prices in the Southeast. But higher sugar prices are the point of U.S. sugar policy. The government sets a floo...

softs

Orange Juice is Fleeting

In the spring of 2020 as COVID-19 was spreading, U.S. consumption of orange juice increased as consumers sought to inoculate themselves with vitamin C. However, the increase was fleeting and not reflected on a global scale. Consumers are seeking to reduce their consumption of sugary drinks at t...

softs

Volatility in Pistachios

The U.S. first displaced Iran as the world’s leading producer of pistachios in 2012 and for the past four years it has not even been a contest. Iran’s downfall was in part U.S. trade sanctions, but also its failure to manage water resources and disease problems properly. While the p...

softs energy

How Sweet It Isn't

Global sugar consumption has now paced below the population growth rate for three years in a row. After dipping sharply in 2019, per capita consumption continues to be lower than it was in the first part of the last decade. There are many factors involved including substitutes, price, and deman...

softs

2021 Sour Domestic Sugar Outlook

The MY 2020/21 outlook for sugar is for more domestic production and a reduction in imports, but with lower deliveries and increasing year-end stocks. Beet sugar production is up 133,662 short tons – raw value (STRV) based on higher extraction rates in Minnesota and North Dakota. Cane pro...

softs

Agriculture and RCEP

Asian leaders gather this Sunday to hopefully put the final touches on a trade agreement called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The negotiations have taken eight years and, as usual, the word comprehensive does not apply to agriculture. Likely exempt from tariff reductio...

feed-grains soy-oilseeds wheat

CFTC Approves Commodity Position Limits

One common thread running through part of the history of grain trading has been the subject of federally set limits on the size of positions that a trader could hold in grain and oilseed futures and options. On 15 October, the CFTC finally approved a new rule regarding commodity position limits...

softs

Could Be More Bearish

Trading grain is not as sexy now as it was back in 2007-2008, but it could be worse. Orange juice futures were a big deal in 1983 when the movie Trading Places was a Hollywood hit but the underlying commodity has been falling out of favor in recent years. Global production and trade have been t...

softs

Cocoa Canary

Given their inelasticity, staple agricultural commodities are a poor indicator of economic health. However, luxury food items like cocoa may be a better indicator of the world’s recovery from the coronavirus. The December contract was up about 2 percent in today’s trading but remain...

softs

Food versus Fiber

A common debate about a decade ago was framed as food versus fuel; should crops traditionally used for food instead be converted into biofuel, especially during a food shortage. Opponents of biofuel may continue to argue in favor of only crops for food but there was also a forecast of declining...

soy-oilseeds livestock softs

WHO Guidance Effectiveness

The World Health Organization’s Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office issued an advisory recently that advised people to consume unsaturated fats such as those in fish, avocado, nuts, olive oil, soy, canola, sunflower and corn instead of the saturated fat in meat, butter, palm and coconut...

softs

The Next China

The country with the largest population is China and India is second but agricultural marketers are always looking for alternative markets. Indonesia has 265 million people living on 17,000 islands with a total arable land base of just 13 percent. While its import policies have been designed to...

feed-grains soy-oilseeds wheat

Trade War Trade Impacts

The U.S.– China trade war has had a far more dramatic impact on American agriculture than it has had on farmers in the Middle Kingdom. In fiscal year 2017, the U.S. had a $16 billion agricultural trade surplus with China. In percentage terms, U.S. food sales to China that year were 142 pe...

feed-grains soy-oilseeds livestock

China In-Country Analysis

Livestock Live Hog Price Down 2 Percent, White Feather Broiler Rises By 11 Percent After peaking at RMB 40.28/kg ($5.73/kg) or RMB 18.27/lb. ($2.60/lb.) at the end of October, the national average live hog price has fallen for five straight weeks. Ending last week at RMB 31.61/kg ($4.50/kg) or...

softs feed-grains

A Faint Light from Golden Rice

As someone who has for many years pursued a deep interest in the business and economics of agriculture and food, one of the greatest frustrations and disappointments is the organized, systematic opposition to nearly all the scientific and technical advances in food and agricultural production d...

softs

Alternative Crops

U.S. cotton farmers are lamenting a season in which they planted a lot of acres, faced lower yields due to weather, lower prices due to competition from Brazil, and restricted markets due to the U.S. - China trade war. Still, natural fibers remain a buoyant market and cotton was always a fallba...

feed-grains soy-oilseeds wheat

The Long View

Grain traders from commodity fund managers to the big multinational agribusinesses have consistently complained about the lack of profitable trading opportunities during the past five years or so. Big crops and large stockpiles of corn, wheat and soybeans in both the U.S. and the world drove pr...

biofuel softs

Can’t Beat Beet Molasses

Molasses left over from the processing of beets for sugar is typically the poor cousin to the molasses that results from making sugar from sugarcane. Cane-based molasses has superior nutritional qualities and has historically earned a premium. USDA pricing from more than a decade ago shows a 50...

feed-grains soy-oilseeds wheat

Agricultural Funds and ETFs

The theory that commodities were a useful tool for anyone seeking to diversify an investment portfolio gained considerable popularity in the early years of the 21st century. This was based on studies indicating that commodity and equity prices often moved in opposite directions. The viability o...

feed-grains soy-oilseeds wheat

USDA Makes Changes to WASDE Tables

USDA announced this week that it will make some changes (noted below) to the monthly WASDE (supply and demand estimates) starting with the May report. While not huge, these modifications will likely add clarity and should have been implemented long ago. They will not affect the actual numbers b...

soy-oilseeds feed-grains softs

More Things to Keep You Up at Night

- Grain and oilseed markets were firm today, mostly on growing chatter that the U.S. and China are very close to reaching an agreement on trade. The devil is always in the details, which won’t be known until the deal is made public. Much of the commentary on various business channels toda...

softs soy-oilseeds wheat

Indian Subcontinent Regional Analysis

Higher Early Sugar Production and Slow Exports Could Pressure Prices Due to the early start of the 2018/19 sugarcane crushing season, Indian sugar mills were able to produce 21.93 MMT of sugar as of 15 February 2019 versus 20.36 MMT at the same point a year ago, an increase of 7.71 percent. Ano...

soy-oilseeds softs

Indian Subcontinent Regional Analysis

Ample Soybean Supplies Expected to Result in 1 MMT Carryover While the government of India (GOI) has projected 2018/19 (October-September) soybean production at 13.459 MMT, the Soybean Processors Association (SOPA) projects the total at 11.483 MMT, a difference of 1.976 MMT. Per available detai...

feed-grains soy-oilseeds softs

China In-Country Analysis

Market Trends A Tale of Two Years With the shutdown of the U.S. government over (at least temporarily), its official statistics are now available to the general public for analysis. Similarly, China’s curtailment of the widespread distribution of official data, the result of a crackdown o...

softs biofuel

Indian Subcontinent Regional Analysis

Cotton Imports to Surge on Lower Production; Prices Could Remain Depressed The Cotton Association of India (CAI) has now estimated cotton production in 2018/19 (October-September) at 33 million bales, down from last month’s estimate of 33.5 million bales as well as the government of India...

livestock feed-grains soy-oilseeds

Indian Subcontinent Regional Analysis

Poultry Sector Suffering Severe Losses; Imported Chicken Cheaper As a follow-up to the issue of rising feed prices that was discussed in the 11 January report (click here), the poultry sector’s margins continue to fall with the cost of production up at least 7.5 percent due to those price...

softs feed-grains

Indian Subcontinent Regional Analysis

Sugar Production Estimates Lowered Based on new satellite survey data from the Indian Sugar Mills Association’s (ISMA’s) satellite survey of sugarcane plantings, the sugar production estimate has been decreased from 31.5 MMT to 30.7 MMT. That is 4.3 MMT or 12.28 percent lower than t...

wheat feed-grains soy-oilseeds

Indian Subcontinent Regional Analysis

Rabi Sowing Down As of 18 January 2019, the total rabi planted area was down 4.8 percent versus 2017/18. While wheat is among the crops affected, pulses and coarse cereals, most especially pearl millet, are down significantly (see table below). The overal oilseed area has been good, however, as...

soy-oilseeds softs energy

Brainstorming without USDA

It takes something like the current partial shutdown of the U.S. government to make those involved with agricultural markets realize how much we depend on the stream of data from USDA. The regularity of things like export sales reports, livestock reports, and estimates of production, supplies a...

softs

Indian Subcontinent Regional Analysis

Pulse Prices Continue to Rise; GOI Restricts Imports   India’s Ministry of Commerce has extended the yellow pea import restriction through 31 March 2019. The import restrictions’ goal is to curb cheaper imports and help boost domestic pulse prices. The Government of India...

soy-oilseeds feed-grains softs

Indian Subcontinent Regional Analysis

Rapeseed-Mustard Prices Crash as Hopes of Exporting to China Vanish As relations between the U.S. and China thawed and a 90-day truce was called, all hopes of India exporting rapeseed-mustard meal and soymeal to the latter vanished. China was back in the market for U.S. soybeans. It did make st...

soy-oilseeds softs

Indian Subcontinent Regional Analysis

Vegetable Oil Imports Decline India’s vegetable oil imports totaled 1.073 MMT last month, a drop of 10.1 percent from 1.174 MMT in October and down 15.2 percent versus November 2017. In June 2018, the government of India (GOI) raised the duty on vegetable oils. The rates on crude palm oi...

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