UPDATE 2-Hershey says U.S. cocoa stocks will last ‘well into next year’
By Luc Cohen
Oct 17 (Reuters) – U.S. chocolate manufacturer Hershey said on Friday that U.S. cocoa stocks are high enough to prevent disruption to supplies well into 2015, playing down concerns that Ebola in West Africa could roil the $12 billion global cocoa market.
More than half of the annual cocoa supply needed for the United States is already in the country, one of the world’s top consumers, a company spokesman said in an email to Reuters.
The comments from the maker of Hershey’s Kisses, some of the most candid from the industry, came as the global death toll from the disease that has ravaged three West African countries rose and calls for a U.S. travel ban from West Africa grew louder.
Ivory Coast and Ghana, which together produce 60 percent of the world’s cocoa beans, have not reported any cases of the deadly Ebola virus, which has killed more than 4,500 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
But concerns are mounting the epidemic may spread across the border, cutting off critical supplies of raw materials from Ivory Coast, which produces 40 percent of global supplies.
Major suppliers have contingency plans in place, which they are prepared to roll out in the event of a supply disruption, one source said.
“Our suppliers have assured us they will be able to continue to supply our cocoa orders without interruption, even if the disease begins to impact the major cocoa-growing countries in the region,” a Hershey spokesman said.
Stocks in warehouses registered with ICE Futures U.S. are just under 250,000 tonnes, down 5 percent from a year ago. That accounts for about half of the country’s total annual demand.
Cocoa prices on the ICE Futures U.S. exchange have surged to 3-1/2 year highs in recent weeks. Soaring prices have already forced Kraft, Hershey and Mars to hike retail prices.
In the medium term, the Ebola outbreak is unlikely to significantly disrupt the market, though it has “seriously curtailed” production in the three hardest-hit countries, all minor producers, the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO)said in a statement on Friday.
Hershey, which relies on third-party suppliers to source its beans, said it was prepared to source cocoa from other tropical origins in the event of a supply disruption, including Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Peru.
Still these countries combined accounted for just 9 percent of world production in the 2013/14 crop year, according to ICCO projections.
Trader Archer Daniels Midland, which has cocoa processing operations in Ivory Coast and Ghana, said its operations had not been impacted, while manufacturer Nestle said it was too early to predict how Ebola would impact business.
The chocolate industry is no stranger to supply scares from the often volatile region. Ivory Coast experienced two civil wars in the past 12 years, yet cocoa continued to flow out of the country, traders said. (Reporting by Luc Cohen; editing by Grant McCool and Andrew Hay)
In: General Topics, Health
FROM PHIL LEMPERT, SUPERMARKET GURU
A staple in the diets of Native Americans long before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, pumpkins have come to signify the arrival of the fall harvest and the advent of the Halloween season. Besides the huge nutritional punch pumpkins and their seeds provide, here and five things you need to know.
Deriving its name from “pepon,” the Greek word for large melon, pumpkins are believed to have been first cultivated in Mesoamerica. Some seeds from related plants date back to 5000 B.C. when Spanish and Portuguese explorers carried the seeds of pumpkins back to Europe. Nutty, chewy and sweet, pumpkins have been used as holiday lanterns since the late 1800s when the Halloween pumpkin craze really took off.
Pumpkins take anywhere from 65 to 200 days to mature, depending on variety. There are hundreds of varieties, though all pumpkins belong to the genus Cucurbita. Most pumpkins belong to one of three species: Cucurbita moschata – which includes the tan-colored commercial pumpkins used mostly for canning, Cucurbita pepo – which includes the medium-sized pumpkins used for jack-o-lanterns, and Cucurbita maxima – which includes the giant pumpkins often found in festivals and pumpkin-growing competitions.
One variety, called Orange Smoothie, is bred for its extremely smooth skin and small size, making it ideal for small children to decorate. Another variety, Snackjack, is bred for its high production of seeds without shells. That makes them better for toasting, of course.
Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are flat, dark green and very nutritious. They are a good source of iron, zinc and essential fatty acids. Some are encased in a yellow-white husk, although some varieties of pumpkins produce seeds without shells. Pumpkin seeds should be stored in an airtight, preferably opaque container in the refrigerator. While they may stay edible for several months, they seem to lose their peak freshness after about one to two months.
The carotene pigments that give pumpkins their signature orange color are being studied for their potential prostate benefits. One cup of cooked mashed pumping provides over 14,000 IU of vitamin A precursors. In addition to being a huge immune booster, long-term clinical studies have shown vitamin A to be useful in preventing age-related macular degeneration. In addition, the large carbohydrate content in pumpkin is unique, as many of the carbs come from polysaccharides found in the cell walls. An increasing number of studies demonstrate that these starch-related components have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, as well as anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating properties. Therefore a pumpkin centric dinner could benefit all systems of the body!
In: General Topics, Health
FROM MY JEWISH LIVING
Sweet Potatoes and Carrots with Apple Cider and Thyme
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 medium-large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds
1 small red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 whole garlic cloves
1/4 cup apple cider
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place your cut sweet potatoes, carrots, red onion and garlic cloves on a baking sheet and spread them in a single layer.
In a small bowl, whisk together apple cider, olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Drizzle mixture all over vegetables and toss to coat evenly.
Roast for 35-45 minutes, until vegetables are caramelized to your liking. Serve immediately.
In: General Topics, Kosher Recipes
Basic white rice has plenty of competition from lesser-known varieties as consumers turn to the staple grain to eat foods that are gluten-free and high in nutrition. Besides long-grain white rice, shoppers are favoring such alternatives as jasmine, basmati, wild, red, and brown rice. Sales of basmati and jasmine rice were $283 million between Sept. 1, 2013 and Aug. 30, a 63 percent increase since 2010, according to Nielsen data.
Manufacturers of all sizes are taking note. Uncle Ben’s, a long-time U.S. staple, has increased its offering of brown and basmati rice options in addition to its fast-cooking variety, while the smaller Lundberg Family Farms in California has seen sales of its heirloom rice varieties jump. Global basmati rice producer Amira Nature Foods plans to expand its U.S. presence. The Dubai-based company recently hired Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide to redesign its packaging to lure American shoppers. Changing demographics are contributing to the shift. An increase in diversity among American shoppers is helping to grow sales, as many consumers come from ethnic communities for which rice is a primary food, reports The Wall Street Journal