Sustainable Future of Food
The food industry has weathered some significant challenges recently. However, company earnings call analysis reveals that there is light at the end of the tunnel as recovery signs begin to emerge. Input price volatility is easing, with companies like Lamb Weston and Novozymes mitigating costs through pricing strategies and expecting future gross margin expansion. Costa Group reports a welcome decrease in shipping costs, signalling potential cost relief ahead. Supply chain disruptions are also abating. John Deere’s investment in AI and robotics indicates a positive outlook, despite past labour and supply challenges. Similarly, International Flavors & Fragrances and O-I Glass note volume rebounds as supply chain conditions improve. Consumer behaviour has evolved due to economic strains, affecting plant-based and animal-derived product sectors alike. However, the normalisation of consumer spending and focus on health suggests a stable outlook for plant-based foods. Credit and financing landscapes are tough, with companies like McCormick and Balchem feeling the pressure of rising interest expenses. Yet, they are proactively managing debt, reflecting their resilience. Most companies in the Sustainable Future of Food theme are profitable and we believe the food industry is poised for a rebound.7
USA Environmental Impact
References to the Inflation Reduction Act [“IRA”] continue their ubiquity in earnings calls for American companies that are supported by the $369 billion spending package.
Here are some highlights from October earnings calls:
“Additionally, the IRA, tax credits, and other local incentives aimed at promoting energy-efficient upgrades will encourage consumers to replace versus repair, as well as the boost the sales of higher-efficiency products.” – Heating, ventilation and air conditioning manufacturer Lennox International, Q3 2023 Earnings Call (26 October).
“The infrastructure spending and fixed asset investment related to the IRA programs along with the reshoring of manufacturing, should provide momentum for additional construction spending through 2024, effectively extending the construction cycle.” – Steel products producer Steel Dynamics, Q3 2023 Earnings Call (19 October).
“The $250 billion IRA is expected to support these projects and additional energy transition and manufacturing projects in the future, which presents a significant opportunity for CMC.” – Steel and metal manufacturer Commercial Metals Co, Q4 2023 Earnings Call (October 2023).8