Global Grain blog


Interview with Martijn Sinke, General Manager Northern Europe, Agri-Commodities, Bureau Veritas 

Published July 2018


Martijn Sinke, Bureau Veritas



What do you see as the two most important issues globally currently and why? How will these impact the market? 


Geopolitics and changing trading patterns 

Food safety, quality and sustainability.


What impact will current market conditions have on market fundamentals for the next marketing year and production in your region? What are the implications for grain and oilseed pricing? 


If USA beans will remain to be captive to an import tax by China we will see that for next marketing year more beans from USA will continue to find its way to EU and other regions. This could mean continued high production of SBM by local crushing plants in the ARA Range fuelled by US beans. 


What do you think has been the biggest change in the grain and oilseed industry over the last 24-36 months? 


US-China Trade relation and impact on global oilseeds market 


Do you think the role of the grain or oilseed trader has changed in the last 5 years? If so in what way? 


Yes. More demanding customers (sustainability, quality), more transparency and all within a faster & digital environment. 


What values do you think shape the global grain and oilseed industry and why? 


Cooperation & respect. People know each other personally and business relations tend to be long term. 





What affect is/will weather have on grain prices? 


Huge. I think we all see climate change does result in more extreme weather and different weather patterns. This impacts volumes and quality resulting in changes to supply/demand balances around the world. This automatically results in changing grain prices. In our region we are currently experiencing dry conditions (EU, UKR & Russia) which will affect yields (volume & timing) and pricing for winter wheat. 

What has been strongest influence on global weather patterns and how have these affected plantings and growth? 


Climate change affected planting and growth all over the world and in different ways. It does result in a greater need for accurate forecasting, monitoring of current and previous crops to optimise yields – accurate risk management technology. 





What can we expect from the Black Sea region going forward and how will it affect the global grain industry? 


As I’m positioned in Rotterdam and also overlooking France and Germany we do notice that Black Sea volumes are increasing for exports grains to MENA-countries and this is likely to continue to develop.
However it will not only impact the export position of countries within northern Europe it also impacts the import position. We already see a lot of corn coming out of these regions towards Rotterdam and German ports and this will only increase. 

Should the trade / geopolitical situation between China & USA continue, Black Sea exports could see a boost; corn, wheat & SB sales to China & even EU could open up for the main Russian, Ukrainian and Kazak exporters. Russia has emerged as the largest wheat exporter and we could see this trend continue subject to favourable weather conditions.


What impact do you think the geopolitics of twitter / Trump-China relations have had on the Brazilian and Argentina soybean market? 


Significant. The new tax introduced by China on Soybeans from the USA changes the global trading patterns of soybeans which automatically has a huge impact on Brazilian and Argentian soybean markets. We believe the impact has benefited Brazilian trade flows but also helped US volumes increase in other Middle East markets. 


What do you think will be the next hotspot region and why? 


Perhaps already but I do believe the BlackSea area will remain to be a hotspot for the near future. Several macro trends, combined with enhanced quality and volumes mean that the role of the blacksea region for grains & oilseeds gains importance for all other supply/demand regions.


Where do you see the South-East Asian market going in the next 12-18 months? 


We see continued movement of Black Sea wheat into the region and competition for Brazilian and US trade flows. 





What are the major issues affecting pricing of grain freight? 


Oil prices, changing routes (as a result of changing trading patterns), weather, availability. Further political risk are factors affecting the cost of the delivered product. Insurance and risk management is becoming more difficult to manage and service providers have to adapt to market conditions to provide solutions to manage the risks. 



Technology & Innovation 


What impact do you think technology is having on the industry? 


Technology will have a huge impact on the industry. It will impact the way parties within the supply chain interact with each other, blockchain could change the way the trade is settled, new technologies like drone technology or satellite imaging will lead to efficiencies and greater transparency within supply chains, among others on (expected) quality and volumes. Data security and privacy will become a key topic, as well as related legislation like the GDPR in EU. It’s for this reason that I’ll present Bureau Veritas’ view and strategy at Global Grain Geneva.



About you 


How did you get in to the industry? 


After working for the energy industry for over 10 years in which I was active in the origination and trading of alternative fuels (i.e. biomass products like wood pellets and agri-residues) I wanted to involve myself in a more commoditized market. As agri-residues were used for biomass purposes I was already connected to this industry so the step towards agri-commodities industry was relatively small. 


If you weren’t in the grain and oilseed/agriculture industry, what industry would you have gone in to? 


In the end it would be a port-related industry. I like the vibrant and international working culture within the ports and it’s a place where many industries come together and need to work together. 


If you could take three things to a desert island that are not practical (i.e. a boat, rope or a knife); what would they be? 


My trumpet, a surfboard and a nice bottle of wine.




You can hear more from Martijn at Global Grain Geneva, taking place on 13 - 15 November 2018. 






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