BANGKOK, August 26 -- The government has banned hoarding of glutinous rice and will sell discounted packs as prices soar amid shortages.
Government spokesperson Narumon Pinyosinwat said on Monday that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had ordered the Commerce Ministry to prevent hoarding and to launch discounted packs in the wake of the all-time high price of glutinous rice. Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit ordered the Internal Trade Department to impose the ban immediately since the grain is on the ministry's price control list, Mrs Narumon said. "There will be discussions with millers, traders and cooperatives so they can quickly produce packed glutinous rice at a special price to relieve people's trouble," she said. Mrs Narumon attributed the expensive glutinous rice to drought that caused its low yield. The situation should improve when the new yield comes out in October, she said. Glutinous rice now sells for 50,000 baht a tonne while Hom Mali fragrant rice costs 35,000 baht. Local retail prices were nearly 50 baht per kilogram and a smallest bag of steamed glutinous rice is now 10 baht, double recent prices.
HONG KONG, August 17 -- A collection of rare Japanese whiskies fetched 7.19 million Hong Kong dollars ($917,000) at an auction Friday in Hong Kong, a record high for whisky produced in Japan.
Hanyu Ichiro's Malt Full Cards Series consisting of 54 bottles, sold to an Asian female collector, was made in 1985 through 2014 at a distillery in Saitama Prefecture near Tokyo. Each bottle of whisky was matured in different barrels and is featured with labels of playing cards. The price nearly doubled from 3.80 million Hong Kong dollars fetched in 2015 at an auction held by Bonhams. "I was shocked" to hear the price, said Ichiro Akuto, president of the distillery, Venture Whisky. "I appreciate the high evaluation, but I'm anxious if they would be consumed with satisfaction after being sold at such an extraordinary price. I will be glad if they are consumed," he said.
NEW YORK, August 8 -- Humanity faces increasingly painful trade-offs between food security and rising temperatures within decades unless it curbs emissions and stops unsustainable farming and deforestation, a landmark climate assessment said Thursday.
The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that efforts to limit global warming while feeding a booming population could be wrecked without swift and sweeping changes to how we use the land we live off. Its report on land use and climate change highlighted the need to protect remaining tropical forests as a bulkhead against future warming. But in a stark warning to those who may hope that vast reforestation and biofuel schemes alone can offset mankind's environmental damage, the report cautioned that these mega-projects could endanger food security, underlining that reducing emissions will be central to averting disaster. "This is a perfect storm. Limited land, an expanding human population, and all wrapped in a suffocating blanket of climate emergency," said Dave Reay, Professor of Carbon Management at the University of Edinburgh. Land is intimately linked to climate. With its forests, plants and soil it sucks up and stores around a third of all man-made emissions.
Intensive exploitation of these resources also produces huge amounts of planet-warming CO2, methane and nitrous oxide, while agriculture guzzles up 70 percent of Earth's freshwater supply. As the global population balloons towards 10 billion by mid-century, how land is managed by governments, industry and farmers will play a key role in limiting or accelerating the worst excesses of climate change.
LAND USE TO BE PART OF GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE EFFORTThe report says Earth's land surface area is a key part of the solution to reducing the risks from climate change. The land, from tropical forests and peatlands to desert grasslands, soak up large amounts of planet-warming carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. It is part of a natural cycle in which carbon is produced and recycled by plants on land and organisms in the oceans as a way to regulate the climate.
But large-scale burning of fossil fuels, such as oil, gas and coal, as well as clearing and burning forests, has distrupted the natural order, leading to ever greater amounts of CO2 that nature can no longer absorb, fuelling a warming world.
The IPCC said the land should be part of any global effort to keep the world from overheating.
"But keeping global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius can be achieved only by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors including land and food," the IPCC says.
The report finds that there are many solutions to reduce the impacts on farmlands, including switching to less intensive cropping practices, ecosystem conservation and land restoration, reduced deforestation, cutting food waste and switching to climate-friendly diets.
It says coordinated action to address climate change can simultaneously improve land, food security and nutrition, and help to end hunger.
FOOD SECURITY"Food security will be increasingly affected by future climate change through yield declines -especially in the tropics - increased prices, reduced nutrient quality, and supply chain disruptions," said author Priyadarshi Shukla from India. "We will see different effects in different countries, but there will be more drastic impacts on low-income countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean," he said in a statement.
The report also highlights the changes in diets in recent decades, where the supply of meat and vegetable oils has more than doubled since 1961 as well as the disparity between those with access to food and those who don't.
There are about 2 billion adults who are overweight or obese, while an estimated 821 million people are still undernourished.
"The conclusion that we reached from the report is that the land that we are already using could feed the world in a changing climate and even provide biomass for renewable energy and to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But it takes early and far-reaching action on several fronts," said Dr Andy Reisinger, an IPCC vice-chair and Deputy Director (International) for the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre.
That included much better land management and careful planning on where to grow energy crops for renewable energy in a way that does not harm nature or threaten food security.
"Land can't help us get out of climate change problems on its own. It has to be part of a broader mix. There are ways in which we could really make mistakes by focusing too much on land as a way to address climate change," he told The Straits Times.
At present, between 25 and 30 per cent of total food produced is lost or wasted, the report says.
AMSTERDAM, July 29 -- Alcohol-free beers drove rising sales at Dutch brewing giant Heineken in the first half of the year, but its shares slumped on Monday as profitability was flat.
The world's second-largest brewer said net profit was down by 1.4 percent to 936 million euros ($1.0 billion) while sales jumped to 13.6 billion euros, up 5.9 percent from the same period last year. Operating profit rose mostly due to a positive effect of currency changes, and its operating profit margin -- revenues minus costs -- actually dipped. The company's shares fell by more than 5.0 percent in midday trading in Amsterdam. A key driver of the Heineken brand's 6.9 percent growth was the demand for low or no-alcohol beer, with Heineken 0.0 now available in 51 markets around the world, the brewer said. Heineken said its partnership within China Resources Beer became effective at the end of April, now giving it access to the fast-growing Chinese premium beer market. Under the deal the Dutch brewer took a 40 percent stake in the holding company that controls China Resources Beer, merged its current operations into the firm and licence it to the Heineken brand for use in the Asian giant. The two firms are joining forces at a time when competition is becoming fierce in the Chinese market, with consumers turning towards foreign beers and premium products as middle class incomes rise.
“This is a significant milestone for DiMuto because it strengthens our capabilities in using disruptive innovation to grow the global agri-food cold chain market in a bigger way,” said founder and chairman Gary Loh. “With PwC’s deep expertise in helping companies expand, we are confident of accelerating our expansion worldwide, as we continue rolling out our Track & Trace blockchain to benefit more industry players. Now that we have stronger resources, we envisage a faster rate of market adoption for DiMuto, which is platform-agnostic and interoperable among the different blockchain systems currently used by the big global retailers.”
DiMuto’s Track & Trace, which digitises each fruit into a traceable digital asset, tackles key issues that are hampering global trade in the cold chain market, including financing, supply chain transparency, food safety and waste. It also levels the playing field for small and medium-sized fruit businesses to compete with the big global brands. As it stands, Thailand’s Queen Frozen Fruits and Australia’s Morning Glory Enterprise are now using Track & Trace to monitor durians and spaghetti squash, respectively. During its three-month trial between March and June, DiMuto has tagged 1.2 million durians, apples, avocados, lemons and oranges for firms in the US, Thailand, Mexico, Australia and China.
“In today’s business environment, innovation is no longer just nice to have,” said Patrick Yeo, Venture Hub leader. “Businesses in all industries need to constantly innovate in order to keep up with the pace of change. Strengthening traceability in the food supply chain through innovative technologies is in line with our purpose of building trust in society and solving important problems, and we are pleased to be working with DiMuto in this regard.” Both parties intend to develop a trust framework for Track & Trace by establishing a set of principles to enhance safety and security in the food supply chain.
PHNOM PENH, July 8 -- Cambodia's rice exports to the European Union fell sharply in the first half of the year following the imposition of tariffs, official data showed on Monday, but the loss was offset by increased sales to China.
The EU in January imposed tariffs for three years on rice from Cambodia and Myanmar, aiming to protect EU producers such as Italy following a surge in imports from the two Asian countries. For the first six months, rice exports to the EU fell 32% from the same period last year to 93,503 tonnes, according to data from the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export Formality, a joint private-government working group. However, rice exports to China rose 66% over the same period to 118,401 tonnes, while total rice exports rose 3.7% to 281,538 tonnes, with Australia emerging as a new market.
Kann Kunthy, vice president, of Amru Rice (Cambodia) Co Ltd, which exports the grain to foreign countries, said that the EU tariffs meant Cambodian long grain white rice was no longer competitive.
"Exports to the EU have declined after the safeguard measure so China and other new markets, especially Australia, are picking up," Kunthy told Reuters. "Losing a market is never good, but the good thing is that we find other markets," he added. Kunthy said Amru had concluded a deal with an Australian rice importer and anticipated annual exports of about 20,000 tonnes. Sales to Australia reached 8,035 tonnes in the first half of this year. Under a trade programme known as Everything But Arms (EBA), all Cambodian exports to the EU are duty free except arms. The block accounts for more than a third of Cambodia's exports, including garments, footwear and bicycles.
However, in February the EU started an 18-month process that could lead to a suspension of Cambodia's EBA status over its record on human rights and democracy. In April, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said China will help Cambodia if the EU withdraws the EBA. China had also agreed to import 400,000 tonnes of Cambodian rice, according to Hun Sen's Facebook page.
Author: Pete McGee
SAPPORO, June 7 -- Japan will restart commercial whaling on July 1 in Kushiro, Hokkaido, after the government announced its withdrawal from the International Whaling Commission in December, a local fishery source said Friday.
Japan halted commercial whaling in line with a moratorium adopted in 1982 by the IWC. Since 1987 it has hunted whales for what it claims is research, a practice criticized internationally as a cover for commercial whaling. Following the withdrawal, Japan will hunt whales in nearby waters and within its exclusive economic zone but not in the Antarctic Ocean, where the country has carried out so-called "scientific whaling" for what it says are research purposes.
SHANGHAI, May 27 -- China’s middle class, particularly better-educated white collar workers, are growing increasingly confused and anxious over how the trade war with the United States will affect the lives of ordinary citizens.
In contrast to official press and social media which have been dominated by messages urging the country to stand strong in face of the adversity. Concerns about the impact of the trade war, combined with rising food prices, are already affecting consumers’ willingness to spend, which could cause a further deceleration in Chinese economic growth. These concerns may also increase efforts by the upper and upper middle classes to safeguard their wealth by buying gold or foreign currency and moving their wealth abroad. For China’s urban middle class, who have benefited from the country’s economic boom in the last few decades and may have taken it for granted that life would be better, the intensified rivalry between China and the US is bringing a strong sense of uncertainty about their future, pushing citizens to scramble for any information about the trade war away from the official propaganda rhetoric. “Please tell me the proper understanding of what the impact of the trade war will be on the lives of ordinary people like us. Thanks!” wrote Su Gengsheng, a popular online writer and blogger with more than 300,000 followers on China’s largest social media platform Weibo, four days after the US raised tariffs on US$200 million of Chinese imports.The post was unusual for Su’s extremely non-political account after she rose to popularity with cosmetics recommendations and make-up tips. However, the trade war question seemed to speak to the heart of the concerns shared by many of Su’s followers, and rapidly attracted thousands of replies and likes as well as more than 10,000 shares. Comments on the post were soon blocked because they “violated relevant laws and regulations”, although the original post was still visible.
SAN FRANCISCO, May 18 -- A California cafe is brewing up what it calls the world's most expensive coffee — at $75 a cup.
Klatch Coffee is serving the exclusive brew, the Elida Natural Geisha 803, at its branches in Southern California and San Francisco. The 803 in the coffee's name refers to the record-breaking $803 per pound the beans sold for at a recent auction after winning the Best of Panama coffee competition, said Bo Thiara, co-owner of the Klatch branch in San Francisco. He calls the annual competition the coffee world's equivalent of the Oscars. Only 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of the beans were available for purchase, and most went to Japan, China and Taiwan, Thiara said. Klatch secured 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) and is the only chain in North America to have it. The coffee's high quality and limited supply set off a bidding war that determined its astronomical price, topping last year's winning beans that sold for $601 per pound, Thiara said.
Klatch describes the coffee as a rare variety of Arabica from Panama that has a floral, tea-like flavor with hints of jasmine and berries. The 10 pounds of beans will produce about 80 cups of coffee, Thiara said. A few lucky coffee lovers got to try free samples Wednesday at the San Francisco branch, where promotional signs are on display advertising, "World's Most Expensive Coffee." One of them was San Francisco resident Lauren Svensson, who said it was "very different" from any coffee she'd ever tasted. "My mind was a little blown about the fact that a$75 cup of coffee even exists," she said, "but it was shockingly good." Her friend, Charlie Sinhaseni, also gave his free sample a positive review.
"When I first looked at it, I thought it would be hyper pretentious, and I would think of all the different notes for the coffee, but I was too busy enjoying it," he said.