Führungswechsel bei Ilip: Nicola Ballini neuer Generaldirektor

The new manager will be replacing Alfonso Sibani, who managed ILIP for over 50 years and will continue to serve an executive role in the company’s board BOLOGNA (10 JULY 2015) – Nicola Ballini is the new General Manager of ILIP, a leading company in the fresh produce packaging and the food service packaging. This is a historic step: Ballini, a manager with a long and diversified experience in several leading companies in the sector of food packaging, will be succeeding Alfonso Sibani, who had guided the company since its foundation, more than 50 years ago. A relationship that will last through time, as the leaving General Manager will continue to maintain an executive role within the ILPA group’s board, of which ILIP is the main division. “ILIP’s history is closely related to the figure of Alfonso Sibani, through a liaison that goes beyond the role of General Manager”, commented Riccardo Pianesani, the legal representative of ILPA Group. “Alfonso followed the company from its creation to this day, more than 50 years of continuous growth and of successes, and we’re happy to know he’ll keep on doing it within the company’s board. We would like to thank him while we warmly welcome his successor, Nicola Ballini”. The former General Manager, Alfonso Sibani, declares, “I am honoured to welcome Ballini to ILIP. He is a great professional with several years’ experience, who will certainly be able to widen the company’s horizons and its development. His nomination completes a process of company reorganization that has given us a dynamic, efficient structure, capable of reinforcing our position in the market and of better responding to the requirements and new challenges of the markets”. “Directing a historical, important company such as ILIP is a huge responsibility, and I’m grateful for the trust I’ve been given. I’m happy with my new position, and ready to face it as well as possible, from the point of view of developing the company and the territory it represents”, the new General Manager Nicola Ballini has declared.

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Frito-Lay files patent that could revolutionize the snack industry

According to a recent patent filing, Frito-Lay might have developed a process that could revolutionize the snack industy.  Under a process they’ve developed, they’ve figured out ways to “puff” nuts up, changing their size, texture and flavor. Frito-Lay claims there is a need to “provide enhanced changes to nuts and legumes which are attractive to the consumer.”  The snack giant’s solution is a two-step process that involves hydrating nuts then either puffing them up or dehydrating them under high temperatures. “The immersing step and gun puffing step are typically carried out to produce an expanded and texturized nut product by forming blisters on an outer surface of the nut kernels and voids in a body of the nut kernels,” the patent says.  Frito-Lay claims this process could create all sorts of changes from better textures that are lighter, airier and crispier than regular nuts to nuts with larger or cracked kernels.  It also includes a possible marinating step for adding flavors to these nuts.” It sounds like an interesting innovation. Details about the process and the potential applications are still unkown. But it is clear that Frito-Lay might have something to offer for a market that craves innovation.

An age-old model of healthy living, the Mediterranean diet is now under threat – UN

The Mediterranean region is undergoing a “nutrition transition” away from its traditional diet, long revered as a model for healthy living and sustainable food systems and known for preserving the environment and empowering local producers, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned. Such is the finding of a new report presented today at EXPO Milano by the FAO and the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM), a group of 13 countries cooperating in the fields of agriculture, food, fisheries and rural territories in the region. “The Mediterranean diet is nutritious, integrated in local cultures, environmentally sustainable and it supports local economies,” explained Alexandre Meybeck, Coordinator of FAO’s Sustainable Food Systems Program. “This is why it’s essential that we continue to promote and support it.” The Mediterranean diet’s focus on vegetable oil, cereals, vegetables and pulses, and its moderate intake of fish and meat, has been associated with long and healthy living. Because it is largely plant-based, the diet is comparatively light on the environment, requiring fewer natural resources than animal production. But globalization, food marketing and changing lifestyles – including in the roles women play in society – are altering consumption patterns in the Mediterranean, away from fruits and legumes towards more meat and dairy products, according to the report. With products being increasingly sourced from outside the region and diverse local landscapes being transformed by monoculture production, traditional food systems are affected by these shifting dietary habits. Tourism, urban development, depletion of natural resources, as well as a loss of traditional knowledge all contribute to the rapid diminishing of genetic diversity in crops and animal breeds across the Mediterranean, the report warns. While Southern countries continue to struggle with undernutrition, a number of others throughout the region are burdened with obesity and overweight. At the same time, the region as a whole is seeing a rise in chronic diet-based diseases that increasingly lead to disability and death. In this context, policy makers, researchers and the food industry need to pay more attention to increasing food consumption and production in ways that preserve local resources and knowledge. Awareness campaigns should drive up consumer demand for traditional Mediterranean products, with an eye on better integrating current food trends and consumer habits with the use of local products across the region. In support of such goals, CIHEAM today issued the Med Diet EXPO Call to Action, pushing for efforts to preserve Mediterranean agro-ecosystems, make the region’s food systems more sustainable, and ensure food security and nutrition for a growing population. FAO and CIHEAM are jointly developing case studies on ways to increase production sustainably and promote adherence to traditional diet patterns. The Call to Action also details a three-year pilot project in CIHEAM countries, along with special guidelines for improving the sustainability of diets in the Mediterranean.

Uganda worried about banana yields

Banana farmers in Kabarole district are concerned about the decline in Banana yield from an average of 1332 per acre per annum to 702 bunches per acre, per annum in the last one and half years. Farmers attribute the decline to limited land, lack of access to improved breeds and inadequate information on banana production. The district successfully controlled the spread of the banana bacterial wilt disease which was a major constraint to banana production. Felix Magezi, a farmer in Busoro Sub County says banana production is no longer a profitable venture. He says that although he produces bananas on two acres of land, the income he fetches is not enough to fetch him money to educate his children and live a comfortable life. Mariam Agaba, another farmer says they need high-yielding varieties to be able to increase production and improve yields. She however says the varieties are costly for the ordinary farmers to afford. Enock Musinguzi, the chairperson of Kabarole District Farmers Association faults the district local government for negating its responsibility and failing to provide information that farmers require to improve production. He explains that majority of the farmers do not have access to information on how to mulch, weed and use the right organic content on their farms. Musinguzi says most farmers use organic content that is lower than the three per cent recommended level, a development which greatly affects banana production. But Amos Mugume, the Kabarole District Production Coordinator encourages farmers to form groups through which they can acquire credit services and purchase improved farming technologies. Uganda is the second largest producer of bananas after India. More than 75% of all farmers grow bananas in different parts of the country.

Philips delivers tailored light growth recipes

New Philips GrowWise City Farming research center will develop tailored ‘light growth recipes’ to ensure that each crop variety gets the best kind of light it requires to generate a high quality and yield. Eindhoven, The Netherlands – Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), the global leader in lighting, has opened its state-of-the-art GrowWise Center at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Research being conducted by Philips will provide tailor-made LED light growth recipes making it possible for producers to increase their yields and grow tasty and healthy food indoors, all year round. The new 234m² facility, one of the world’s largest, will concentrate its research to optimize growth recipes for leafy vegetables, strawberries and herbs. Other areas of research will find ways to grow more carbohydrate-rich crops, like wheat and potatoes indoors. “Our aim is to develop the technology that makes it possible to grow tasty, healthy and sustainable food virtually anywhere. The research we are undertaking will enable local food production on a global scale, reducing waste, limiting food miles and using practically no land or water,” said Gus van der Feltz, Philips Global Director of City Farming. “This new GrowWise City Farming research center aims to take City Farming to the next level, with Philips scientists leading research into LED light recipes for vegetable and cereal production.” The research centre is a clean and sterile environment totally closed to natural light and air that enables fully controlled growing conditions. The facility uses connected LED systems that are fully customizable, allowing for the development of ‘growth recipes’ tailored to each crop variety or producers’ requirements. The end result is better tasting products, grown in a more sustainable way and without the need for pesticides. The Philips GrowWise City Farming research center addresses a number of trends and concerns in society. There is increasing awareness of how the food we eat is grown, the effect it has on our planet and the distance it travels from farm to fork. In addition, it is anticipated that new ways of food production are needed to meet the increasing pressure on worlds’ food supply. UN research predicts that by 2050, the world’s population will have grown by another 2.3 billion and 66% of the world’s population will inhabit cities. Meanwhile, 80% of the world’s agriculture appropriate land is already in use. Philips believes that the time is right for the innovation of new farming technologies that allow plants and crops to grow without sunlight in indoor environments close to or within cities. Philips has equipped a number of city farms such as the GreenSense in Chicago. The Philips GrowWise City Farming research center will be a scientific testing ground that could fulfil the need of the customers in having healthy, locally produced and safe fresh produce available. The research center will unearth the lighting and technological innovations to bring farm and fork to within a few miles of each other. In addition, it will enable high quality vegetables to be harvested year round, using a fraction of the water, energy and land required for conventional farming. The Philips GrowWise City Farming research center features four-layered mechanized planting racks in each of its eight climate rooms resulting in a total growing surface of 234 m2. Each plantation layer at the facility has Philips GreenPower LEDs installed, that contain blue, red and far red LEDs and are designed and formulated specifically for growing crops, and allow for the fine tuning for tailor-made light treatment. LEDs are highly energy efficient and produce less heat. This means cooler temperatures, they can be placed closer to plants and be optimally positioned to ensure a complete and uniform illumination of the plant. The new research facility, which will feature demonstration rooms for customers is located at Eindhoven’s High Tech Campus – a technology hub, houses more than 135 companies and some 10,000 researchers, developers and entrepreneurs. Philips has been active in horticultural lighting since 1936 and is now using its leadership in LED lighting to develop sustainable food production for the future, which will benefit the planet and improves people’s lives. GreenQ-Improvement-Centre-L

Lead in fruits, drugs in livestock among issues to be tackled by UN food standards body

6 July 2015 – The United Nations food standards body, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, today kicked off its latest session in Geneva, during which it will examine and adopt new food safety and quality standards, including limits on the use of drugs in food-producing animals. The Commission is a joint intergovernmental initiative of two UN agencies – the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Comprising 185 countries and the European Union, it compiles annually the standards, codes of practice, guidelines and recommendations that protect consumer health and ensure fair practices in food trade. Kicking off the week-long session, the Commission today adopted guidelines related to the Trichinella parasite that may be found in the meat of pigs and other animals. It has also decided to make the Asian regional standard adopted in 2009 to ensure the quality of ginseng products a worldwide standard, as long as these products are used as a food or food ingredient. During the session, the Commission will consider a number of other topics, such as the maximum levels for lead in fruits and vegetables as well as the standards for the safe use of food additives and pesticides, including recommendations to prevent residues of certain antibiotics in food of animal origin. It is also expected to support the establishment by FAO and WHO of a new $3.3 million per year Codex Trust Fund to support the more active participation of developing countries in international food standards setting from 2016 to 2026.

Did the West Coast Port Dispute Contribute to the First-Quarter GDP Slowdown?

The decline in U.S. GDP of 0.2 percent in the first quarter of 2015 was much larger than market analysts expected, with net exports subtracting a staggering 1.9 percentage points (seasonally adjusted annualized rate). A range of factors is being discussed in policy circles to try to understand what contributed to this decline. Factors such as the strong U.S. dollar and weak foreign demand are usually incorporated in forecasters’ models. However, the effects of unusual events such as extremely cold weather and labor disputes are more difficult to quantify in standard models. In this post, we examine how the labor dispute at the West Coast ports, which began in the middle of 2014, might have affected GDP growth. Although the dispute started as early as July 2014, major disruptions to international trade did not surface until 2015:Q1. By that time, export and import growth through the West Coast ports in the first quarter were 14 percentage points to 20 percentage points lower than growth through other ports. The West Coast dockworkers’ labor contract expired on July 1, 2014. Following months of negotiations, port congestion increased in late October amid allegations of a labor slowdown. The situation reached a boiling point in February as port management largely suspended operations over a long weekend. Finally, on February 20, labor and management reached a tentative agreement, and port congestion started to ease over subsequent weeks. In order to gauge the effect of the West Coast dispute on U.S. international trade, we examine import and export shipments across various modes of transportation. Goods cross U.S. borders via sea, air, and land (such as trucks crossing Mexico or Canada borders). We label the ports that were directly affected by the dispute as “West Coast ports”; these include all major seaports in California, Oregon, and Washington State. As for the rest of the ports, we label them as “other.” We can start to see the potential impact of the dispute from the chart below, which shows that 20 percent of U.S. nonoil merchandise imports arrive through the West Coast ports and 10 percent of nonoil merchandise exports leave through them. We focus on exports and imports of nominal nonoil merchandise, which account for 8.5 percent and 12 percent of U.S. GDP, respectively.
Figure 1. Trade Shares by Mode of Transport
Figure 1. Trade Shares by Mode of Transport. See accessible link for data
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Notes: Data reflect trade in nominal nonoil goods for 2014. West Coast ports include all major seaports in California, Oregon, and Washington State. Accessible version
The dispute had the most bite in the first quarter, with imports and exports through the West Coast ports plunging. From the table below, we see that exports via West Coast ports fell 20.5 percent in Q1, while imports fell 9 percent. These are substantially larger declines relative to previous quarters and bigger declines than in shipments through any other mode of transportation.
Table 1. 2015:Q1 Growth in Nonoil Imports and Exports
Mode of Transport
Air Land West Other Total
Imports % Change -1.4 1.7 -8.9 8.4 0.3
Share 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.2
ppt contribution -0.4 0.5 -1.8 2.0
Exports % Change -1.6 -4.0 -20.5 -6.0 -5.2
Share 0.3 0.4 0.1 0.2
ppt contribution -0.5 -1.5 -1.8 -1.4
Source: U.S. Census Bureau and authors’ calculations. Note: Data are seasonally adjusted nominal nonoil merchandise trade. West indicates goods transported by sea through all major seaports in California, Oregon, and Washington State. Other indicates other goods transported by sea.
Some trade was likely lost irremediably, such as perishable agricultural exports, whereas other goods were rerouted, came in at a later date, or were sold to domestic consumers. From the table we see that for exports, shipments through West Coast ports were 14 percentage points lower than other ports (the difference between the third and fourth columns). For imports, we see disparities between West Coast and other ports as high as 17 percentage points. Of course, these observed changes could be driven by compositional factors, such as shifts in demand for certain products or other country-specific factors. To check this possibility, we regressed the log change in import (and export) nominal values by transportation mode on a West Coast indicator variable and an interaction of this indicator with a 2015:Q1 indicator to estimate the average growth difference between West Coast ports and other modes of transportation, and to see if the differential widened that quarter. Our analysis controls for detailed product-time effects (for more than 10,000 product categories) and country-year effects. The results from this analysis support the facts reported above. Specifically, we found differential effects for the first quarter between West Coast ports and other ports equivalent to about 20 percent. To see whether similar patterns hold for volumes, we reestimated the equations using the physical weight of the shipment rather than the nominal value and we found similar results. After controlling for these additional factors, we find a slightly larger differential between West Coast shipping and other modes of entry. The larger this estimate, the bigger the decline in West Coast shipments and the larger the reallocation of shipments through other ports. One takeaway from our analysis is that first-quarter import and export growth through West Coast ports were 14 percentage points to 20 percentage points lower than growth through other ports. However, it is not straightforward to calculate the magnitude of the effect of the dispute on aggregate GDP. If all of the decline in real shipments were reallocated to other modes of transportation then the net effect would be zero. A major confounding factor affecting trade during this time is the strong dollar. The appreciation of the dollar reduced the demand for exports and increased the demand for imports. We can see this reflected in the table, with exports relatively weak across all modes of transportation and imports very strong across all modes other than the West Coast ports; for example, seaborne imports through other ports were up 8.4 percent in the first quarter. Clearly, lost West Coast exports that were not reallocated to other ports represent a drag on GDP growth. But from a growth accounting point of view, lower import growth actually boosts GDP. However, the data indicate that the West Coast import declines during the dispute were largely compensated by reallocation to other ports and a March import surge when the dispute was officially over (see the next chart). Specifically, nominal imports in March soared, retracing a lot of the decreases posted in January and February. A large portion of the rebound was accounted for by imports from Asian economies (China, Japan, and Asian emerging markets), which most often enter the United States through West Coast ports. In addition, the March surge reflected a particularly strong jump in imports of consumer goods, which tend to be sourced from Asian economies.
Figure 2. Import of Nonoil Goods by Mode of Transport
Figure 2. Import of Nonoil Goods by Mode of Transport. See accessible link for data
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Notes: West Coast ports include all major seaports in California, Oregon, and Washington State. Accessible version
For exports, the evidence supports the view that the port dispute restrained shipments in the first quarter; most of the decline in exports through the West Coast ports does not appear to have been compensated with gains through other transportation modes. One potential explanation for why exports were held down was that supply chain issues restrained output, and thus exports for some industries, as lower availability of imported intermediate inputs led to a delayed adverse effect on production. To calculate the net loss in exports due to the dispute, we work through a counterfactual scenario in which the fall in exports through West Coast ports was commensurate with the average fall in exports through other modes of transportation. Estimates from this scenario suggest that the West Coast port disruption likely reduced real export growth in the first quarter by 1.5 percentage points. In terms of the contribution to net exports to real GDP growth, this would be equivalent to a drag of 0.2 percentage point in the first quarter.
Figure 3. Exports of Nonoil Goods by Mode of Transport
Figure 3. Exports of Nonoil Goods by Mode of Transport. See accessible link for data
Source: U.S. Census Bureau Notes: West Coast ports include all major seaports in California, Oregon, and Washington State. Accessible version
In addition to the net exports channel, the dispute could have impacted GDP through consumer and investment spending. On the positive side, if goods destined for exporting were added to inventories, then this would boost GDP growth. However, if the dispute delayed imports of capital goods and intermediate inputs, this could have led to a loss of manufacturing output and a further loss in U.S. exports. In turn, lower exports lead to reduced output and employment of exporting firms, and lower real activity overall through supply chains. While these indirect effects might be important, they are more difficult to quantify. Our analysis of the direct effects indicates that lower exports subtracted 0.2 percentage point from GDP growth in the first quarter. It is possible that this loss will be made up later in the year, so we will continue to monitor the trade numbers closely.

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Abu Dhabi to Host Two Major Agricultural Events in 2016

For the third consecutive year, and with the participation of more than 300 agricultural innovations, Abu Dhabi is set to host The Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA) at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from 16-18 February 2016. Last year’s edition was held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority . Supported by some of the world’s leading players in the field of sustainable agriculture, GFIA works alongside organizations such as the United Nations, World Bank, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID, African Union and the Clinton Climate Initiative to ensure its outcomes continue to accelerate the development of solutions to feed nine billion people by 2050. GFIA 2016 will be collocating with VIV Worldwide, that will be bringing its brand of highly successful livestock production events to the Middle East for the first time. VIV MEA joins VIV Europe and VIV Asia as the third international hub in the organizer’s portfolio of major business exhibitions for the animal protein sector. “The hosting of these important international events in Abu Dhabi articulates the priority of the UAE to drive a global dialogue on food security and climate resilience. We live in a water-constrained region and we must use these forums to enhance our contribution to the development and implementation of smart solutions for increased food production,” states Mohamed Jalal Al Rayssi, Chairman of the Organising Committee for GFIA and Director of Communication and Community Service at Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority . Together the events expect to host over 500 exhibitors of innovative technology, making Abu Dhabi home to the largest agricultural event in the region. “GFIA has become the flagship event for agricultural innovation across the world and we are hugely excited to launch VIV MEA alongside such a forward-thinking and influential event,” says VIV Worldwide Project Manager, Ruwan Berculo. “The timing is absolutely right to bring VIV to the Middle East.” Berculo insists. “Growing urbanisation, rapid growth in the tourism sector and increasingly globalized diets are seeing a significant increase in the demand for livestock products in the region. These countries want to produce food and not just import it, so investments in the food production sector are increasing all the time.” First launched in The Netherlands in the 1960’s, VIV events have a long history of excellence in serving the animal protein industry and have become a world standard for top quality in innovative livestock production. With established VIV events also in China, Thailand, Turkey and Russia, VIV shows host over 1,000 international exhibitors and visitors from over 140 countries. Mark Beaumont, Project Director of GFIA adds, “The launch of VIV MEA alongside GFIA will bring an exciting new dimension to the VIV brand for livestock producers. As animal numbers in the region increase, productivity will be affected by competition for land and water, and by the need to mitigate the effects of climate change. The only solution is innovation and that is the cornerstone of GFIA.” “GFIA is unique in that it attracts all the players – from across the full food value chain – needed to effect real change in the way we feed the world,” adds Beaumont. “The last edition of GFIA in Abu Dhabi saw 1,437 orders made for sustainable agriculture technologies. This will lead to thousands of farmers improving productivity and food security back in their home countries.”

West Coast Ports union battle ends with 5 year agreement

The union-employer dispute at U.S. West Coast ports, which left ships waiting in port and cargo and equipment stranded across the nation for much of the last year, finally ended in May when a new 5-year labor agreement was signed between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA). The long-running saga offered a much-needed boost to global, and specifically transpacific, air cargo markets. But with West Coast port operations now returning to normal, will any of that modal shift be retained by the air cargo sector? As a new report by analysts Drewry confirms, the U.S. port delays of the last year did indeed result in a tangible shift of cargo from ocean to air, reversing the long-term trend that has seen cargoes previously flown increasingly shipped by container shipping lines. Although the volume shift to the skies as a percentage of total trade was small, its value to the air cargo community was immense. “The U.S. port delays were forcing a number of shippers to resort to paying for much more expensive air freight in order to replenish stocks in the run-in to Christmas,” said Drewry. This saw Drewry’s East-West Air Freight Price Index, a weighted average of all-in air freight “buy rates” paid by forwarders to airlines for standard deferred airport-to-airport air freight services on 21 major East-West routes for cargoes above 1,000 kgs, soar to $3.92 per kg in November 2014. However, said Drewry, despite the faster growth rate of air cargo volumes during the port labor impasse, air cargo only increased its share of the U.S. import containerizable trade to around 2.8 percent, up from 2.4 percent at the start of 2014. “In normal circumstances there is very little overlap in the goods that ocean and air cargo move, but the small bubble they do fight over in the middle includes items and parts from the hi-tech, fashion, and automotive industries among a small select group that require expedited transportation,” said Drewry. “U.S. Census Bureau data shows that air cargo has been increasing its market share in these areas.” Census Bureau figures suggest that high-tech commodities registered the biggest modal shift over the last year, although other sectors were also boosted and some continue to benefit. “Fashionable clothing has been switching to air in recent months in readiness for the summer season,” said Drewry. “The need to get more mundane everyday clothing, such as men’s vests and T-shirts, is less pressing, but even here there has been a small move towards air cargo.” But what next? Drewry takes the view that as port operations improve on the U.S. West Coast, the reversal in the long-term shift towards ocean will resume, resulting in air cargo again seeing its share of U.S. import trade fall. Sou Ping Chee But there could be a short-term upside. “The prospects of missed sailings in the peak season as ocean carriers look to redress the supply-demand imbalance could potentially prolong the blip for a small number of high-value goods,” added the report. A long-term reversal of the last year’s shift to air is also the industry consensus. “Now that the port situation in the U.S. has normalized, we have stopped seeing organized ocean to air freight conversion on the transpacific trade lane,” said Sou Ping Chee, (right) Regional Head of Airfreight Asia Pacific for Panalpina. “Under normal circumstances we do not expect to see massive ocean to air conversion in view of the usually slower demand during the summer months.” Paul Tsui, (left) the immediate past chairman of the Hong Kong Association of Freight Forwarding Agents and the Federation of Asia Pacific Aircargo Associations, said operations at the port of LA had now returned to normal and there were no longer delays. However, the overall market outlook across modes was currently weak on the Transpacific. “In fact, air freight has slowed for the last couple of weeks, but ocean freight is even worse,” he added. “But overall volumes should improve by the third week of August.”

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