Monday, January 22, 2018

First it was Glencore, now it’s ADM

First it was Glencore rumoured to be preparing a bid to buy

Now the Wall Street Journal says it’s ADM preparing to buy Bunge.

If Bunge is bought by either of them, it would reduce the number of global grain traders from four to three.

Bunge, with head offices in White Plains, New York, operates in more than 40 countries and is Brazil’s largest exporter of agricultural products.

ADM, based in Chicago, says it has customers in 160 countries. It is also a big processor of corn into ethanol and sweeteners.

Glencore, based in Switzerland, is big in mining of minerals, but became big in grain trading, including purchasing Viterra, the new name after the Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta wheat pools and United Grain Growers became one.

Sobeys joins online shopping competition

Sobeys has made a deal with a British company to enable shoppers to order groceries online.

It will begin with a distribution centre in Toronto and then expand to other high-density locations, the British company said.

Ocado, which has helped drive online shopping in Britain, one of the world's most advanced e-commerce markets, has been to trying to sell its proprietary technology to international supermarkets in recent years, with new deals seen as key to the company's valuation.

Ocado's shares jumped 12 per cent in early trading on Monday, building on gains it recorded in November when it announced a deal with French supermarket Group Casino.

"Channel shift to online in North America is gaining pace as consumers increasingly seek the benefits of grocery shopping from the comforts of their own homes, and as retailers attempt to offer services to meet this growing customer trend," said Luke Jensen, CEO of Ocado Solutions.

Why Sobeys didn't engage InstaCart, which was researched and developed at the University of Waterloo, is a question only Sobers' executives can answer. Maybe faraway pastures look greener, just as Sobeys' views about Safeway's supermarkets across Western Canada looked so good from their perspective in Nova Scotia.

And we all know now what a disaster that investment has proven to be. 

Instacart, founded by Apoorva Mehta while he was at Waterloo, is an online shopping service for groceries. Based in San Francisco, it secured funding of more than $1 billion.

Friday, January 19, 2018

UG launches Accelerator centre

The University of Guelph has launched Accelerator Guelph to commercialize innovations.

The announcement was made during an “innovation showcase” that featrured agri-food projects and was attended by university, industry and government officials, including Member of Parliament Lloyd Longfield and Liz Sandals who recently departed the provincial cabinet.

Accelerator Guelph will help bolster U of G’s already-strong reputation for ingenuity and inventiveness in agri-food, said Malcolm Campbell, vice-president for research.

“The University of Guelph’s expertise and strength in agri-food innovation is unmatched,” Campbell said.

“Our researchers have bold, ambitious ideas, and their work addresses gaps and helps solve problems while shaping the future of food and agriculture in Canada and beyond.

They also promote industry collaboration and accelerating growth in the thriving agri-food sector.”

One of the innovations on display was a farm-machinery seat cushion designed by a team led by engineering professor Michele Oliver. It reduces vibration.

Computer science professor Rozita Dara and a team are looking at soybean traceability using blockchain, developing processes to collect, analyze and store data on soybeans while also understanding the legislative and stakeholder context.

Professor Manjusri Misra is developing products for the greenhouse industry that will reduce manual labour in growing tomatoes and other crops.

Professor Amar Mohanty is investigating the use of low-value agricultural residues to develop lightweight biocomposite products for the automotive industry.

This is far from the first effort to commercialize research at the University of Guelph.

Unlike the University of Guelph, where professors are allowed to hold patents on their discoveries and have launched dozens of businesses, including Blackberry, the University of Guelph has held its patents hoping to earn income from royalties and licences.

Waterloo's entrepreneurs have given hundreds of millions of dollars to the university.


Food safety shift planned

The United States is moving to shift some food safety scrutiny from inspectors to pork-packing-plant employees.

It has already done something similar for poultry.

The shift is outlined in proposals to amend regulations revealed late last week.

“If establishment personnel sorted and removed unfit animals before ante-mortem inspection and trimmed and identified defects on carcasses and parts before post-mortem inspection by Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) inspectors, FSIS inspectors would be presented with healthier animals and carcasses that have fewer defects to inspect, which would allow inspectors to conduct a more efficient and effective inspection of each animal and each carcass.” the agency said.

“Such a system would allow FSIS inspectors to conduct a more efficient inspection.

“As a result, FSIS could assign fewer inspectors to online inspection, freeing up Agency resources to conduct more offline inspection activities that FSIS has determined are more effective in ensuring food safety, such as verifying compliance with sanitation, HACCP, and humane handling requirements,” the agency said.

This is all well and fine if everybody does what they ought to do. But, unfortunately, that's not always the case, so food poisoning outbreaks continue to happen.

Half a million in grants given

Bioenterprise Corporation is granting $510,000 to 13 companies and organizations.

The province has made the grants of $30,000 to $50,000 each to:

Oat & Mill Ltd., Smith Falls
The Chufa Company, Toronto
University of Western Ontario, London
Local Line Inc., Kitchener
Crazy D's Soda Lab, Toronto
Conestoga College, Kitchener
Beef Improvement Organization (BIO), Elora,
Mirexus Biotechnologies Inc., Guelph
Club Coffee LP, Toronto
Nature's Wave Inc., Milverton
Transport Genie Ltd., Guelph
Vive Crop Protection Inc., Toronto

Escarpment Laboratories Inc., Guelph