Mar Chicago Soyoil

Down 900 points in a week!!


Frontier stumbling along OK

Frontier Agriculture increased its profitability by 43% in its second year of trading, according to figures released this week.

Pre-tax operating profits at the grain trading and inputs business, which is jointly owned by Associated British Foods and Cargill, were £11.3m for the year ending 30 June 2007. Profit after tax was £5.3m giving a 15% return on initial shareholder investment. Turnover was up 10% to £623m.

When asked to get the round in however an un-named Frontier spokesman said that he had left his wallet on the bus.

Now this doesn't sound like a bad idea

Dennis Thouless has been a leading light of the biofuel industry after spending four years developing a biodiesel processing plant at Shipdham in Norfolk. Now his latest project, a portable biodiesel plant, is set for the big time.

Mr Thouless's £45,000 machine means co-operatives of farmers, in the UK and overseas, could work together to use crops grown on their own land, in rotation, to create biodiesel - without having to import large amounts of crops or see rainforests cut down.

And measuring 16ft by 6ft on wheels, it is easily portable.Mr Thouless, who lives in Framlingham Earl, said: “I saw the future of biodiesel being in the development of community projects; establishing local production capability, processing oil from locally grown crops and supplying biodiesel to local businesses and consumers.”

It has been designed to produce 500 litres of fuel an hour from a variety of oil crops, including the high oil yield plant Jatropha, which grows on arid land not suitable for normal crops.

Oil nosedive, pound up

Chicago soyoil, locked in limit down last night is again limit down in virtually all positions this am.

Chinese soybean futures have settled sharply lower overnight as speculators and inverstors bale out sending soyoil futures limit down there as well.

Meanwhile the pound is back up over $2, climbing to its highest level in almost three months, as traders pare bets on interest-rate cuts by the Bank of England.

Sterling is heading for its biggest weekly advance against its U.S. counterpart since January and rebounded from a record low versus the euro after the U.K. central bank held its main rate at 5.25 percent yesterday.

Hungary? No not really!

Oh, hello, yes did you think I said yes please grow as much corn as you possibly can and I'll take the lot? You must of misheard, what I actually said was I'll take none......

Announcements about new bioethanol investments in Hungary stood bumper to bumper last year, but there is not one of them that is currently being realised. The high price of maize and environmental protection concerns about the technology to be used have made the project conditions completely uncertain.

“As far as I'm concerned, there is no bioethanol plant under construction at the moment, but I must underline that only a few of the previously announced 30-32 deals have even made it to the authorisation phase," László Zsemberi, President of the Hungarian Bioethanol Association, told business daily Napi Gazdaság on Thursday.

Zsemberi attributed the non-realisation of the majority of these projects to two key factors. One of these, he said, was the absurdly high price of maize, the base material for bioethanol production, and another the uncertainties surrounding European Union regulations on the sector.


Acreage battle

Been doing some reading on various US farmer message boards that I frequent. Not surprisingly there is a lot of talk on the topic of "what are you gonna plant this spring".

The general consensus from most is a shift towards beans. Sure there are plenty saying "same as last year", there are even a few saying 100% beans. But the general consensus seems to be "in 2007 I was 60:40 corn:beans, in 2008 I'm going 40:60."

Also interestingly there was quite a lot of 2009 planting talk with the majority suggesting a bigger switch away from corn & into beans then due to even more increased input concerns.

Jesus wept!

President Bush gave a major energy policy address at the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) Wednesday morning. He trumpeted America's leadership on ethanol and biodiesel, noting the U.S. has become the world’s leading ethanol producer, most of which comes from corn.

"And that's good - it's good if you're a corn grower and it's good if you're worried about national security," the President said. "I'd rather have our corn farmers growing energy than relying upon some nation overseas that may not like us."

"I'll name that trader in one"

Name them:

Trader 1: who has cried off attending the Manchester Dinner tonight after spraining his ankle going to WATCH a football match?

Trader 2: which well know trader drove six hours to Devon to take his wife on a romantic anniversary weekend away, only to throw his toys out of the pram when he got there because the room wasn't to his liking, to promptly turn round & drive all the way home again (yes, a round trip of 12 hours) in total silence with the missus?

Separated At Birth #8

Mike Spencer & Elvis

US in recession - proof

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned yesterday that US mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures would likely rise as house prices fell.

Fell? Oh they've fallen alright. How much are houses in the US then? Any guesses?

Nice house

There isn't a decimal point or any noughts or anything missing off the price there. The price you see is the price you pay. Just done a search on that site for properties in Detroit, Michigan 0-$1000 (yes, a maximum of one thousand dollars or five hundred quid in round terms) and they have 117 of them on their books!

Separated At Birth #11

Paul Gates (Wills & Wilkin) and Sid James

Alistair Darling - What would you like to do to him?

UK treasury coffers have swelled by more than £2 billion above expectations over the last six months thanks to the boom in oil prices, yet chancellor Alistair Darling still plans to increase fuel duty by 2 pence on April 1.

Figures from the British Chamber of Commerce reveal that the Government has generated an extra £1.7 billion in taxes and VAT from North Sea oil and gas companies along with a further £481 million from its 2p increase in fuel duty last October.

Last week oil prices hit an all time high, peaking at nearly over $104 per barrel, pouring even more money into the treasury but Mr Darling is still sticking by his plan to add 2p to the price of fuel.

Premier Foods Losing Dough

From the Timesonline Website:

Premier Foods today gave warning that further price rises on bread were almost inevitable despite revealing that Hovis, its biggest brand, had suffered a “significant decline” in sales in recent months.

The troubled food group admitted that Hovis was losing the bread wars with fierce rivals Warbutons and Kingsmill as all three battle unprecedented cost inflation in the market fuelled by spiralling wheat prices.
Premier pushed the price of a loaf of Hovis to more than £1 for the first time last September. The recommended retail price is now around £1.15.

Robert Schofield, chief executive, said: “Whilst the retail price of Hovis was increased, the retail prices of our major competitors were not raised until early December.

“This differential in retail prices led to a significant decline in volumes.”

The comments came as Premier plunged into the red, halved its dividend and raised £125 million from bankers to cope with rising raw material prices and increased debt costs.

The group, whose brands also include Mr Kipling cakes and Branston Pickle, reported a pre-tax loss of £73.5 million for the year to December compared with a profit of £59 million in the same period the year before.
Premier said it had suffered unprecedented price pressure on wheat and other commodities while interest payments had more than tripled after it borrowed to fund takeovers of the RHM and Campbell's businesses.
The company said it had amended its banking facilities to increase the financial headroom available and ensure investment programmes can proceed to plan.

Premier has reset its financial covenants and converted a £100 million acquisition line into an additional working capital. It has also agreed an additional £125 million short-term facility with a “small group” of its lead banks.

However, Rob Mann, an analyst with Collins Stewart, warned that Premier's refinancing may not be enough in the face of rising wheat prices: "With cost inflation continuing to constrain the core trading performance, we would not be surprised if the measures taken to alleviate the balance sheet pressure proved inadequate, leading to another round of conversations with the company's bankers.”

Allendale see BIG US soybean plantings in 2008

Illinois based analytical firm Allendale Inc. sees U.S. producers intending to plant less corn in 2008, while increasing planted area for soybeans and wheat.

For soybeans, Allendale has planting intentions at 74.239 million acres (much higher than the USDA's current 71m estimate). That'd be an increase of 10.608 million from 2007 and would be the fourth largest in U.S. history. With Allendale's trend line yield of 42.29 bushels per acre, production is seen at 3.098 billion bushels, compared to last year's harvest of 2.585 billion bushels.

Allendale has corn at 86.438 million acres (vs the USDA's 90m), which would be down 7.162 million from 2007, but if realized would still be the second largest since 1944's 95.475 million acres. Allendale's trend line yield is 155.28 bushels per acre, putting their production forecast at 12.220 billion bushels. 2007's crop totaled 13.074 billion bushels.

Total U.S. wheat planted is pegged at 62.330 million acres, up 1.897 million from 2007. According to Allendale, if realized, it'd be the biggest since 2000's 62.549 million acres. Using Allendale's trend line yield of 41.50 bushels per acre, 2008 wheat production is placed at 2.259 billion bushels, compared to the 2007 total of 2.067 billion.

By type: winter wheat planting is seen at 46.670 million acres, 1.683 million more than 2007, "other" spring wheat is pegged at 13.511 million acres, an increase of 214,000 and durum is expected to hold steady at 2.149 million acres.

The United States Department of Agriculture will release their prospective plantings estimates Monday, March 31.

Amazing Holes

The Mirny Diamond Mine, Serbia. Holds the title of largest open diamond mines in the world. At 525 metres deep, with a top diameter of 1200 metres, there's even a no-fly zone above the hole due to a few helicopters having been sucked in. Awesome!

The Diavik Mine, Canada. This mine is so huge and the area so remote that it has its own airport with a runway large enough to accommodate a Boeing 737. Incredible!

St. James's Park, Newcastle. This hole reputedly contains the most fertile soil on the planet. Liberally splattered with the most expensive shit in the world once a fortnight. Unbelievable!

Llandudno - a place where English people go to die

Daily Post: A Liberal Democrat conference delegate faced demands for an apology yesterday after she branded Llandudno “a place where people from the north west of England go to die”.

A bit harsh methinks, she's obviously never been to Rhyl!

Soyoil sharply lower on Chinese Govt talk

eCBOT soyoil futures are sharply lower this am, reversing last nights strong close on talk in the market the Chinese central government may sell vegetable oils from state reserves and cut import tariffs on vegetable oils to curb surging prices. Nearby Mar soyoil currently down over 200pts.