Energy Transition Industry Fundamentals: Hydrogen, Renewables & Carbon Markets

Dubai, UAE, October 8-10, 2024


October 8-10, 2024 | Dubai, UAE, October 8-10, 2024

October 8-10, 2024 | Dubai, UAE, October 8-10, 2024

Cutting Edge Agribusiness Transformation Insights

Geneva Sugar Conference: Exploring Challenges and Opportunities in the EU Sugar Market

The S&P Global Commodity Insights sugar conference took place in Geneva during April 17-18. The discussions covered the most relevant topics in the sugar market, especially focused on Europe. Experts in the field covered key themes from production, sustainability, diversification, trade to prices.The first day was focused on production and one of the questions addressed was whether participants would see stability in the EU sugar market. There was consensus among participants that EU+UK will increase sugar beet area in 2024, however, the challenges are already in the horizon with unfavorable weather leading to late sowing and the higher probability of pests’ attacks. French sowing was said to be 2.5 weeks delayed compared to average, a situation not seen in many years, while aphids could already be spotted in the fields. In the UK, sowing is also delayed but on a positive note, around 60% of the crop is using neonics treated seeds, which would offer protection to yellow virus losses. Then, representatives of farmers’ associations put light on the challenges they have been facing over tighter regulations, with a limited toolbox to tackle the cuts on plant protection uses, green deal, among others. Growing sugar beet continues to be risky and if weather plays ad hoc, the sugar yields in 2024-25 could face a significant drop and it remains to be seen if a recovery in planted area would result in a significant recovery in sugar output.The future of sugar beet was also covered by seeds manufactures, producers and companies offering diversification on the sector. The key message was that there is still limited innovation available to compensate for cuts in chemicals use and more needs to be done from all stakeholders to achieve sustainability goals. Additionally, investments will be necessary and will need to be shared within all the value chain. Risks and rewards also need to be shared with farmers and sustainability needs to encompass all the aspects.On the consumption discussions, while it remains hard to estimate it precisely, market participants agreed that EU+UK has been facing a negative trend or at best stable. However, population growth in other parts of the world and developing economics are responsible for the global consumption increase. In the world markets, high white premiums could also be an indication that demand is there, with import margins open for many destinations.Delving into trade, the spotlight was on past and new trade agreements and how they need to continue evolving along with changes in the sugar market. Substantial quantities of Ukrainian sugar entering the bloc was, of course, one of the main themes. Improving solidarity links with Ukraine while still protecting EU domestic market was a balance to be achieved. At the moment, despite logistical difficulties, Ukrainian traders found solutions to export to different destinations and with higher production expected for 2024-25, these new routes will be essential to move the surplus -- that could reach up to 900,000 mt -- to the world market.In regard to the global market and prices, La Nina effects over main exporting countries like Brazil, India and Thailand could change expectations. Nevertheless, for the short term, markets are more likely to move sideways on a surplus expectation. EU domestic prices are also unlikely to move much from current levels amid the forecast of higher production on top of the current circumstances of comfortable stocks. Still, the weather ahead plus pests infestation remain a risk and cuts in production estimates could drive prices up. It was the consensus that especially in Europe, price volatility can be significant as the domestic market easily goes to deficit from balanced over the seasons.

Geneva Sugar Conference with Stefan Uhlenbrock

Listen now as Stefan UhlenbrockAssociate DirectorSP Global Commodity Insights sheds light on the sugar outlook from the biggest marketsBrazilIndia and Thailand including on where the prices might head.Watch now to learn all about the key topics from the Geneva Sugar Conference 2024Want more? Watch as Wesley MonteiroGlobal LeadStrategic Engagement Intelligence Group, gives his views on the event’s key takeaways and what to look out for in the upcoming 24-25 season! Click here to view.

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Wheat markets in India, Indonesia face uncertainty ahead of 2024 elections

Key players in the wheat trade, India and Indonesia are headed to the polls this year, and market sources believe that the role of agricultural policies is increasingly taking center stage, especially amid a backdrop of food security concerns and inflationary pressures.Recent elections in other countries that are also heavily involved in global grain production and trade have demonstrated the rising importance of agriculture in the political sphere.The recent presidential elections in Argentina were one such striking example. Export flows of Argentinian grains, especially wheat, had dropped significantly approaching the elections as farmers reportedly held back on sales in anticipation of the then-candidate Javier Milei's pledges to remove export taxes on grains.India, a major producer and former exporter has been embroiled in talks of wheat imports for months following an El Nino-battered wheat production and several large drawdowns in wheat reserves in 2023. The country's wheat reserves have been declining as the government is providing free-of-cost food grains to keep inflation in control ahead of the elections.The government's wheat reserves have fallen to a seven-year low, while providing free-of-cost food grains to keep inflation in control ahead of the elections. As of Dec. 31, 2023, the Food Corporation of India had 16.35 million mt wheat in government warehouses, compared with 17.17 million mt a year ago.However, if India ends up allowing wheat imports after the elections it may potentially lead to a rise in global wheat prices and weigh on returns for farmers, trade sources said.On the other hand, Indonesia is one of the biggest wheat importers in the world, and its citizens will be headed to the polls in two weeks' time to elect the eighth president of Indonesia. The potential introduction of a new wheat import tariff, depending on the outcome of the elections, may potentially add on to the burden of flour millers who are faced with rising operating costs and a slow rebound in downstream demand.India India's national elections are expected to be held during April-May with local media reports indicating a comeback of the ruling dispensations.Trade sources are not expecting significant changes to the trade policies before the elections, despite concerns that El Nino may weigh on India's wheat supply."Since farmers are a key constituency in large wheat producing states, the ruling party is not willing to risk angering them and are not engaging in talks about imports," a trader based in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, said. Uttar Pradesh is the largest wheat producing state and also the most populous province in the country.While traders have been asking for a cut in import duty, the government is looking at planting progress before deciding on imports, an official with the agriculture ministry said. Currently, the government levies a 40% import duty on wheat.As of Jan. 22, Indian farmers planted wheat across 34 million hectares, against 33.8 million hectares last year, the Ministry of Agriculture reported.According to government officials, allowing imports could weigh on farmers' intentions to plant wheat. The government is also unwilling to let imports weigh on farmers' returns ahead of the general elections, the official with the farm ministry added.Market participants expect India's wheat harvest to shrink in MY 2023-24 (April-March) likely poor yields despite steady sowing.The government has pegged India's wheat harvest in MY 2023-24 at 114 million mt, 1% higher on the year. On the other hand, some trade participants believe if the wheat harvest rebounds the government may take a look at allowing exports after the elections. India had blocked wheat exports in May 2022 amid rising food inflation due to poor harvest.If the output is better than expected, the government may be willing to allow exports but any significant changes to the trade policy is unlikely before the elections, a trader based in Mumbai said.Indonesia Indonesia is headed for a three-way fight in the country's upcoming presidential elections Feb. 14, with local media reports indicating that third-time candidate Prabowo Subianto and his running mate, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, who is the eldest son of Indonesia's current president Joko Widodo, continue to maintain a wide lead against the two other presidential candidates, Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo.The results of the presidential elections could have a significant impact on Indonesia's agricultural policies, as the country continues to lag behind its goal of reducing imports and achieving self-sufficiency.Notably, the Prabowo-Gibran pairing has announced their intention to introduce a number of new taxes upon election, including taxes on wheat imports. Prabowo was quoted in local media as claiming that the losses incurred from not taxing wheat imports were significant, and he further cited the examples of neighboring countries Thailand and Brunei, which tax wheat.Indonesia is one of the world's largest wheat importers, importing between 9-11 million mt of wheat annually. The latest data from Indonesia's Central Bureau of Statistics shows that the country imported 9.7 million mt of wheat between January to November 2023.Indonesia does not tax milling wheat imports, which make up the vast majority of the country's total wheat imports. Meanwhile, feed wheat imports are generally controlled by the state-owned livestock farming company, Berdikari, to protect the interests of local corn farmers."There are definitely some concerns in the industry if wheat imports become taxable," said a source in Indonesia's flour milling industry. Additionally, there have been no indications as to what the tariff rate may be."There's still a lot of uncertainty, so we can only wait for the final result [of the presidential elections]," added another source in the local food manufacturing industry.

Food and Beverage Price Index: Four Charts to Watch - February 2024

Perspectives X Agribusiness predictions for 2024

Join Lee BridgettEconomistFood Retail Manufacturing and Sana KhanLead AnalystSustainability, Agribusiness Research at SP Global Commodity Insights as they draw up predictions on what’s in store for the agribusiness market in 2024.

Brazil’s emergence as a dominant agriculture exporter

Over the past 20 years, Brazil’s growth in the production of feedstuffs like soybeans and corn has been remarkable. In the process, it has become a powerhouse exporter. To accomplish this, it took the convergence of Brazil modernizing its agricultural production and transportation systems along with the equally meteoric demand growth of a willing buyer, China. SP Global Commodity Insights' chief agricultural economist Paul Hughes speaks with feed and grains senior analyst Anamaria Martins and grains and oilseeds pricing manager Rafael Savoia about the factors behind this astounding transformation, the implications for world trade, the beneficiaries, and what is likely ahead.Related links:White paper: How China’s aging demographics will affect food and agricultural commodities (subscriber content)More listening options:

Perspectives: Understanding the latest in global wheat markets

Join Commodity Insights experts, Pierre Cera-Huelva, Research Analysis Associate Director, and Victoria Sinitsyna, Senior Grains Analyst, as they delve into global wheat fundamentals. Pierre and Victoria cover:Wheat production expectation in 2024/25 marketing yearWeather risks for winter cropsOpportunities and challenges facing the marketListen now to gain an understanding of fundamentals in the global wheat market!

Indigenous carbon forestry carves niche market

Native tree-based carbon forestry has created a specialized market as premiums rise, Kshitiz Goliya writes. Carbon forestry projects growing tree species native to a particular area are emerging as a niche nature-based solution in the carbon credit market and attracting premiums over credits generated from plantations growing exotic or commercial trees. While plantation-based carbon projects can sequester carbon faster in the initial years due to fast growth and generate additional revenue through timber, their carbon accumulation saturates in the long run. On the other hand, native trees tend to grow slower but deliver credits over a long period as they continue growing for as long as 40 years. "When we look at it from an investment point of view, the native species for conservation are likely to be able to demand higher prices in the market for their credits, mainly because of the biodiversity co-benefits that are associated with it," said Adam Gibbon, natural capital lead at AXA Investment Managers, part of the French insurance giant AXA. Gibbon added, however, that buyers also recognize the need to support plantations to reduce the pressure on existing forests for the supply of wood, which will be essential in the shift away from the petrochemicals industry. About 14 million credits were issued in January-August based on natural carbon capture methods, with 6.56 million retired, according to data from S&P Global Commodity Insights. A total of 182 million credits were issued over the same months from all types of projects. The key concern among buyers is how long carbon is going to stay out of the atmosphere, said Peter Fernandez, founder and CEO of Mombak, a nature-based carbon removal startup focused on the Amazon in Brazil. "If you have a monoculture, the answer is probably not very long," Fernandez said. "If the wrong disease or the wrong pest shows up, it can kill your entire forest because they’re all the same tree." There used to be a strong push for monoculture, with fast-growing non-native species plantations under the UN-backed Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) carbon credit scheme. It led to a backlash in the market, said Jeffrey Chatellier, CEO of Forest Carbon, a Jakarta-based carbon project developer planting native species on degraded land in Sumatra. Non-native tree species create risks for a restoration project as they could outcompete other species on which a lot of local biodiversity depends for sustenance, Chatellier said. "When you start disrupting that, it can lead to a sort of extinction – not as a species, but in that zone," he added. "A lot of those niche species would cease to exist because of the promotion of non-native trees." Carbon projects like World Vision’s Sodo in Ethiopia have seen the return of birds and baboons to the project area after the land was allowed to be regenerated with native vegetation, said Rob Kelly, acting manager for climate action and resilience at the developer. Premiums and returns Carbon credits from natural carbon capture methods, such as forestry, already attract one of the highest prices among carbon market project methods. Platts, part of S&P Global Commodity Insights, assessed the price of natural carbon capture at $13.45/mtCO2e on September 29. Native tree-based forestry projects continue to attract a premium over plantation-based projects, with prices ranging from $14/mtCO2e to above $50/ mtCO2e, depending on the co-benefits from the project, market participants told S&P Global. The magnitude of the premium also depends on the volume, with smaller parcels getting higher prices compared with large direct-offtake deals. "If we talk about relevant significant volume transactions of, let’s say, 5,000 mt or more, the highest price we have seen was $28/mtCO2e," said Julian Ekelhof, senior director for climate solutions at Forliance, a Germany-based project developer and broker. The price for smaller volumes of as low as 5 mt, which can be bought on the Gold Standard platform, can rise to as high as $45-$50/mtCO2e, Ekelhof added. "When you start dealing with big volumes of credit, the buyers look at their cost," said Clement Chenost, managing partner at the Shared Wood Company, a Paris-based forestry project developer. "Maybe they can pay once for a credit at $50, but when you talk about 1 million credits, the negotiation is much tougher. Fernandez said Mombak is in talks to sign a large offtake deal for its native tree-based carbon credits with "one of the largest companies in the world" at more than $50/mtCO2e and the deal will account for about 30% of its total production. "All of the rest of the carbon we will sell in the spot market in the future because we believe that the price has a very bullish outlook," he said. Compliance signal While most of the native tree-based credits continue to rely on demand from the voluntary carbon markets, some countries are using their compliance regime to push forestry in a more sustainable direction. The concerns over carbon markets fueling monoculture-based projects reached a tipping point in 2022 in New Zealand, where the emissions trading scheme allows forestry developers to earn allowances for sequestering carbon. To offset the risks from projects largely populated by exotic pine trees, the government is undertaking a consultation on whether to mandate some long-term forestry projects registered within the ETS to transition to native trees. France in July published a decree under its Label Bas Carbone, or low-carbon label, voluntary certification scheme that incentivizes local airlines to offset their emissions through credits from biodiverse forestry projects. "If they buy a certificate with co-benefits, instead of having to compensate 1 mt, they have to compensate half a ton, meaning it’s basically a premium of 50%," Chenost said. Barriers and risks Some native tree-based forestry projects carry risks in the form of the survival rate on degraded land, the lack of infrastructure for seedlings, limited revenue streams and low knowledge base. "Nature-based solutions as a sector has not matured to the same scale as plantation forestry, so the key thing is you need access to seed, you need teams that can identify seed, know how to treat the seeds, and how to start managing nurseries at scale," Chatellier said. Brazil, which has seen a surge in forestry projects, is facing similar bottlenecks. Native tree-based reforestation projects in the country used to be handled mostly by non-government organizations. While NGOs have the capacity to plant 3,000 hectares/year, they will not be able to scale up to 10,000 hectares, said Felipe Viana, sales director at Carbonext, a Sao Paulo-based project developer and credit seller. There is also an increased risk in planting native species at scale due to limited research and experience compared with commercial plantations. There has been as much as 50 years of research on exotic pine forestry, but only about 10 years for native trees, said Mitchell McLaughlin, co-founder of New Zealand-based MyNativeForest, adding that the company is working to lower the cost of planting through more research. Fernandez, whose company is bringing a tech centered approach to scaling reforestation rapidly, said the supply of seeds can be managed by professional procurement. Land titles are a bigger challenge. "We have to invest in a lot of people and technology to do very thorough due diligence on every piece of land that we look at to make sure that we have bulletproof land titles," he said. Potential buyers The demand for credits from native tree-based projects has increased as more companies seek to offset their emissions with credits that have co-benefits. World Vision, which also operates the Humbo carbon project in Ethiopia, said the prices were low before 2018 when it was selling credits to the World Bank under the CDM scheme. Both Sodo and Humbo are based on the farmer-managed natural regeneration method, which involves assisting the growth of remnants of native vegetation by removing human and animal pressure on the land. The project was able to attract higher prices after it transitioned to Gold Standard in 2018. "We’re returning on average 65%-70% of carbon revenue back into the hands of the communities," said Kelly. The demand for native tree-based credits was especially higher from the luxury goods and technology companies as well as consumer goods companies whose supply chains run through forestry, market participants said. "I think as we move toward 2030, we will see a lot of supply constraints and upward price pressure on both but I still would expect the native species to be an even rarer commodity and hence with those added co-benefits commanding higher prices," Gibbon said. This article first appeared in the October 2023 issue of Commodity Insights Magazine

The rise of biodiversity markets

Yuejia Peng unpacks the efforts and challenges in bringing biodiversity to market, and how functioning market mechanisms have the potential to bridge the sizable biodiversity funding gap and incentivize nature-positive action. As global attention turns to address nature and biodiversity loss, the concept of biodiversity markets is fast emerging as a potentially valuable and impactful solution. It is widely accepted that a vital way to channel financing to nature is through market-based mechanisms, and biodiversity markets can play a key role in expanding and scaling up financing for nature-based solutions and projects. The notion is endorsed by global agreements such as the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) and numerous national governments, and it is increasingly being championed across the private sector. We already see many nature-based projects – such as REDD+ programs – trading on the voluntary carbon market (VCM), aiming to deliver both carbon and biodiversity benefits. In fact, additional environmental merits can also include water quality and supply, soil richness and clean air – all of which are ecosystem services provided by nature. However, in a biodiversity market, you are accounting for the impact on biodiversity, instead of carbon emissions. The idea of biodiversity markets is to make biodiversity as a good – in the form of biodiversity credits or certificates, also called biocredits – that can be bought and sold in an open marketplace. The hope is that such a market would hopefully encourage financing of a broad spectrum of projects – such as reef restoration and ocean conservation, for example – with or without a clear direct carbon component. Biodiversity markets are new and rapidly growing, evolving largely in response to the urgency of the global biodiversity crisis and awareness of the potential impact on nature and our economies. There is a general agreement that the huge biodiversity funding gap cannot be filled by public funds or philanthropy alone; companies and investors need to play a role, too, and the hope is that they can do so via a functioning biodiversity market. There are questions around how much these nascent markets can contribute. Some stakeholders are not optimistic that markets will help to meet the $20 billion finance target for biodiversity by 2025 under the GBF, but many are hopeful that such markets can play a key role in closing the biodiversity funding gap. What might a functional biodiversity market look like? Biodiversity markets are a fledgling concept with rapidly forming building blocks emerging across the globe. Successful biodiversity markets could have many elements, including timely scale of credits volume and value along a reasonable pathway, a fair price to nature’s stewards – such as sovereigns and indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) – and deliverance of credible impact to people, nature and climate. One key challenge to overcome is how to measure biodiversity. Unlike CO2, biodiversity is very location-specific and there is no single metric that will work across geographies. A tropical rainforest, savannah, coral reef, peatland, mangrove or freshwater lake are very different environments. Over the years, scientists have developed different measurements for various aspects of ecosystems and biomes. Here are some common ways to measure biodiversity: species richness - the total number of species within the areagenetic diversity - total variety of genes within a single speciesendemic species - species that occur in a particular place and nowhere elseecosystem diversity - total number of ecosystems in the regionunique ecosystems - ecosystems that occur in a place and nowhere elseGiven the complexity, how should we define a unit of a biodiversity credit? Various bodies and entities are contributing to this discussion, and we are beginning to see distinct methodologies emerging globally. Influential work has been done by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world’s largest environmental network, to develop the Species Threat Abatement and Recovery (STAR) metric, which measures impact of investments on reducing species’ extinction risk. Verra is also planning to release a new biodiversity credit standard later this year. The organization’s methodology could potentially be area-based and include a permanence component. In addition, being able to quantify results is important. There will be many ongoing discussions on which methodology works best, how will they apply in practice, and what processes need to be adopted. It is important to remember that keeping the methodology simple means that local landowners, IPLC and potential buyers can also understand the basics and take part in the marketplace as intended. Importantly, biodiversity markets are expected to make full use of learnings from the VCM. On the supply side, this includes best practices and robust integrity standards, ensuring high-integrity credits that represent real, additional and verifiable benefits – mirroring elements under the Core Carbon Principles (CCPs) by the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM). Some of the key processes that have proven successful under the VCM including reporting and monitoring requirements as well as third-party verification. Unfortunately, biodiversity markets could be prone to some of the same trappings that ensnared the VCM – such as questions around additionality, permanence, safeguarding issues, baseline setting, monitoring and reporting. The hope is that these new mechanisms can learn and improve from the experiences under the VCM and sidestep some of the thorniest issues from the beginning. There is also the opportunity to embrace some of the latest technological advances; for example, carrying out monitoring using satellite and light detection and ranging (LiDAR) in setting dynamic baselines and using DNA sampling to monitor and report biodiversity. There are also developments around environmental DNA, or eDNA – also known as "forensics for wildlife" – the recovery and analysis of DNA that has been shed from organisms into the environment, which can be used to understand the biodiversity present in a certain location, as well as measure changes in species distribution and progress over time. Markets can also take advantage of blockchain technology and tokenization to improve transparency and safeguard against double counting. On the demand side, a key learning from the VCM that is already dominating conversations is the intended use of a biodiversity credit. One issue is that, unlike carbon, biodiversity is a very local concept based on the ecosystem that hosts it. There is no global standardization possible, hence, many parties are asking that most biodiversity credits not be used as offsets, as the loss of biodiversity in one place cannot easily make up for gains in another. The purchase of such a credit would then be considered as contributing to a positive biodiversity change at source. This is similar to the "mitigation contribution" in the VCM, or "results-based payment" in deforestation pledges, where resulting credits are not used as offsets, but contribute to the climate financing of mitigation efforts in the host country. Indeed, the Science-Based Targets Network (SBTN) recommends that companies set up goals to reduce local environmental impact, and that aim seems incompatible with the use of offsets. This setup could help the fledgling biodiversity market side-step the greenwashing debate when it comes to companies making offsetting claims. In situations where offsetting is considered, proponents are seeking assurances that buying biocredits does not replace preventable ecosystem damage. In such cases, advocates are pointing to the need for a "biodiversity offset hierarchy" – similar to the "emission mitigation hierarchy" for carbon offsetting – to ensure that offsets should be used only against nature loss that cannot be avoided or minimized at the original site. This, then, brings into question the potential demand for and use of these credits. If not used as offsets in majority of cases, then how can the credits be used? Who might buy them? How many would they want to buy? There are many unknowns that makes the potential size of the market highly uncertain at present. Furthermore, what would be the size of compliance versus voluntary demand? Companies could take part voluntarily in this market, perhaps as part of efforts to meet their corporate social responsibility goals. They could also be mandated to take part. Numerous countries such as Australia, Canada, the UK and the US already require the negative impacts on nature from projects be compensated with offsets by restoring or protecting another habitat under certain circumstances. What about prices? How much would these credits be? At this early stage, there have not been many trades yet beyond the occasional over-the-counter bilateral agreements on a few projects scattered around the world. Prices will likely vary significantly, based on what the biocredit measures, where it is from, and what additional features it represents – much like the additional attributes of a carbon credit. A potential price floor could help to ensure quality and impact of this market. Another question arises from the intersection between VCM and biodiversity. Currently under the VCM, biodiversity is seen as a co-benefit that accompanies many nature-related projects. A biodiversity market would effectively separate out and monetize that specific component. A VCM project can also theoretically issue biodiversity credits, in a process is known as "stacking." There are questions, however, about how the carbon and biodiversity elements will interact with and affect each other. How would one measure and account for the carbon and biodiversity benefits separately? Are there issues to do with additionality for one versus another if they are coming from the same project? These questions are not exhaustive but rather represent some of the fundamental questions on biodiversity markets that many interested parties are working on to push the concept forward. What we do know is that some high-level principles are needed before the market can scale, and that a wide range of biodiversity credit types is likely to emerge from different institutions and sources. It is important to remember these are early days for these markets. In the coming months, we expect extensive dialogues, more research and collaborations as well as additional standards and news to emerge. Consultation with various stakeholders and proof of concept via pilot projects are now key. We expect most bodies will use learnings from pilots to improve their methodologies and processes over time. Businesses now have the opportunity to engage in these processes and shape market developments. This makes biodiversity markets an exciting space to watch as an instrumental tool to finance biodiversity conservation and restoration. This article first appeared in the October 2023 issue of Commodity Insights Magazine


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