Strong EU wheat, US maize exports
The European Union has already surpassed its previous full-season wheat export record, according to the latest crop report from the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board. The EU added 816Kt of wheat export licenses in the week ending March 25 to bring its current total to 22.7 Mt, passing the previous full season record of 22Mt, set in 2008-09.
US maize export sales were around double expected levels at 1.408Mt, which offered support to maize markets but may also be indicative of lower feed wheat demand. While dry weather in the US continued, there has been some rain forecast, which decreased pessimism over the new crop.
Furthermore, recent ADAS and EU crop reports indicate that winter grains across Europe are in good condition, though more rain in central Europe would be welcomed.
Global wheat production for 2014-15 is tentatively forecast around 700Mt by the International Grains Council (IGC), slightly lower than this season’s record (709Mt) when several countries produced “exceptional yields”.
Glanbia opens food-grade grain processing facility
Glanbia Nutritionals Inc. has opened a food-grade processing facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The 63,000-sq.-ft. plant produces MeadowPure flaxseed ingredients as well as a portfolio of chia, quinoa and other ancient grain ingredients.
Closed-loop processing at the site eliminates any foreign material or contaminants from entering the plant or process. Grain handling is entirely internal with no external grain unloading or grain bin storage, which the firm says dramatically reduces the risk of exposure of raw material to potential contaminants. The plant accepts and handles only 99.9% pure, food-grade raw material.
Designed to exceed the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act, the facility uses MERV 15 filtered positive pressured air to eliminate outside air from entering the building and designates specific entry criteria as well as distinct delivery requirements, all in an effort to keep the inside and outside environments totally separate.
“We’ve adapted very tight quality practices from exceptionally hygienic industries that have not been seen in the grain industry and have drawn on our long experience in Canada and with our customers to create the most food-safe grain processing plant in existence,” said Matt Healy, director of operations at the facility.
Ardent Mills partners amend filing
The prospective partners of Ardent Mills amended a termination rights provision of their partnership agreement in a Form 8-K filed March 31 with the US Securities and Exchange.
In the filing, ConAgra said its March 4, 2013, agreement to establish Ardent in partnership with Cargill and CHS contained “customary termination rights, including the right to terminate the transaction if it has not closed by March 31, 2014 (which may be extended to June 30, 2014 in certain financing-related circumstances).”
ConAgra noted that in February it offered a revised timeline for completing the transaction—with a June 2014 closing—citing the ongoing regulatory review process as a contributing factor.
Consistent with the revised timeline, the three companies on March 27, 2014, amended their agreement to contain an extension to Sept. 30, 2014, pending “certain financing-related circumstances”.
Tiger Brands drops Kenyan flour milling, bakery firms
Tiger Brands has abandoned its acquisitions of Kenyan flour milling and bread baking businesses, slowing the pace of its African growth plans.
Tiger Brands announced last month that it was acquiring 100% stakes in Kenyan firms Rafiki Millers and Magic Oven Bakeries, which have combined annual revenues of 350mn rand ($33.6 mn). Then on March 25 the group announced the agreements with both firms had been terminated by mutual agreement. No further information about the decision or costs was provided.
Although Tiger Brands has rapidly expanded its presence in the rest of Africa, it has struggled, most notably with the drag on group earnings from its underperforming Nigerian subsidiary, Dangote Flour Mills.
About a quarter of Tiger Brands’ revenue comes from outside South Africa via exports and through Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Zimbabwe investments.