‘Together We Stand - Divided We Fall’
By Martin Chidwick Red River Global Ingredients
On a hill top in Italy, young people from all over the world assembled to bring a message of harmony from the Coco-Cola bottlers. "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, I'd like to buy the world a coke and keep it company. (That’s the real thing) ....(Coke is what the world wants today)" .......Millennials among us...perhaps check it out online.
The IYP aims to "heighten public awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses as part of a sustainable food production aimed towards food security and nutrition." A global initiative backed by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Switch coco -cola for pulses. "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, eat more beans and peas and little red things (lentils), in perfect harmony".
"Globalization is a fact of life" says Austrian Minister for European and International Affairs, Sebastian Kurz, in UN General Assembly speech. "The more the world connects, the more responsibility we have to not look away from what happens elsewhere, and the more we become globalized, the more interest we should have in working for stability and prosperity in other parts of the globe", he added.
In a CNN studio recently, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reveals his company's new mission statement., " To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together". Connecting people online isn't enough. "We realize that we need to do more. It is important to give people a voice, to get a diversity of opinions out there, but on top of that, you also need to do this work of building common ground so that way we can all move forward together".
Zuckerberg had earlier in the year penned "Building Global Community"- a near 6000 word document. He wrote " Today's threats are increasingly global, but the infrastructure to protect us is not. Problems like terrorism, natural disasters, disease, refugee crises and climate change need coordinated responses from a worldwide vantage point. No nation can solve them alone. A virus in one nation can quickly spread to others. A conflict in one country can create a refugee crisis across continents. Pollution in one place can affect the environment around the world. Humanity's current systems are insufficient to address these issues".
So you ask- what has all this to do with the pulse trade? Earlier this week, a highly respected trader said to me, "The pulses market is completely and utterly, unestablished". News of imploding values and possible nearby oversupply in the world's largest consumer and producer of pulses, India, has reverberated through much of the industry. The catching up of overpaying growers from the inducements of the fall of 2015 for 2016 crop of lentils and peas, has also caught up to the market. The growth of 'global' supply of competitive pulses has also begun to hit home.
One only has to look at the development of pulse crops in South America and Eastern Europe, to say nothing of Eastern Africa and the changing dynamics of Myanmar, and better crops from Australia, to register that supply is increasingly a global production base, and that North America and N W Europe have challenges to their influence.
Conversely, exponential growth in pulses, especially chickpeas (check out the world of humus....), and peas for protein (have you been watching the companion pet trade?) have helped assuage some of the 'globalized', competition as North America finds increasing offtake at home. But it runs deeper yet still.
Globalization. One world. The disciples of this movement have been dealt some severe blows. The perceived protectionism of the Trump administration and the Brit-exit or Brexit have undermined the 'speed of ascent' to the summit of the One World. The confusion of philosophies, the embracing of old taboos as now the new norms by some nations in (mostly) the west, have confounded some of the world’s leaders to say nothing to various adherents of different faiths. Against this background, the social pressure on governments to keep half an eye on the health of the globe and the other half on their own people, has become excessive and pervasive to sovereignty. How does a market emerge and economy grow, if it is immediately shackled by the 'global interests" of those who have "arrived"? How does a voice at the International table get received by others at the same table if the fundamental philosophies of life are so at odds? Do we really have the grace to hear each other, and respect one another's views without being labelled 'bigot' or worse? (A student of fake news and vitriolic rhetoric in the North American political arena will give the reader some clue how that is going....).
We are in danger of evolving away from our heritage of oneness. The joy of 'family' and of a shared vision, so well captured by last year’s global promotional drive. We have a trade that often times is cynical in its dealings. Today we sell. Tomorrow the market is up. We ship that sale, (we know we will get paid!). If the market is up on that sale, execution may be challenged. It may be shipped later. Perhaps a lesser quality is shipped or perhaps not shipped at all. Maybe the seller resells what originally was committed to ship at a higher market value. All acted scenarios deliver repercussions to both the supply side and the demand side of the market. Conversely. Today we buy. Tomorrow the market is down. Maybe we receive the goods (we know we will get shipped!). Maybe we don't. Maybe we ask to have shipment delayed. Maybe we walk on contract. Maybe we buy in at cheaper levels. Repercussions for both the supply market and the demand aspect of the market. It only takes one, to behave like this, and the ripples are impactful globally. Painful to read, isn't it? But adherents of these 'aide" to trade are not clever. The memories of those previously 'wounded' by such behaviour are long. (I had a broker from a certain destination tell me of the unpunished fiscal pain, a named, for my ears only, company had caused in 2014. So incensed are the buyers that they wanted him to solicit offers from the protagonist, so they could exact retribution by defaulting....).
Well run, well managed, well informed participants are always a welcome addition to the pulses industry. There are many companies who have poured body and soul into building first class operations, trade and /or asset based. Why should they be compromised by less scrupulous behaviour, be it buyer or seller?
Why should the small family owned companies that many of us know and love, have their operations be compromised by the pressure of shippers acquiescing to renegotiated contracts to others in their market, when the whole essence of the buyer with integrity, is just that. Integrity.
As an industry, TOGETHER WE STAND. We owe it to the globe and to each other. Dan Buettner , (a National Geographic Fellow and New York Times bestselling author) has researched what he calls the 'Blue Zones' of our world. He has discovered that beans are the cornerstone of every longevity diet in the world. "A cup a day (sorry Pulse Challenge!), repeat, a cup a day" is his conclusion.
We are blessed to be dealing with a precious product, and a globe changing one. In harmony, we can make an impact that overshadows the boundaries and prejudices of the world. A healthy body, it is said, leads to a healthy mind.
As an industry........TOGETHER WE STAND.