Six Bulk Material Headlines You May Have Missed in May

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From regulatory updates to industry trends, May presented a range of topics impacting the bulk materials sector. In this month’s edition, we delve into the collaborative efforts of regulatory agencies to modernize biotechnology oversight, explore barriers to pharmaceutical innovation, discuss the shift towards sustainability in the bakery industry, examine the International Grains Council's latest production forecast, and analyze the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's recent updates to the Hazard Communication Standard. Here are the May headlines in the bulk ingredient handling industry that you may have missed.

ICCO figures show cocoa supply chain deficits amid high volatility in global prices

The International Cocoa Association (ICCO), has released its latest quarterly bulletin, revealing that crop deficits are ‘expected to be higher’ than previously anticipated due to a shortage of cocoa supplied from key West African producing nations of Ghana and Ivory Coast.

Significantly, the move comes as the global market has been impacted by renewed volatility in prices – which had rocketed to nominal value highs on the New York and London Futures markets. At the time, prices soared to a record of $12,000 per tonne in April, before slumping by over 30% to just over $7000 the following month, confounding market observers.

Read the full article here.

EPA, FDA, & USDA Issue Biotechnology Regulatory Plan

In response to President Biden’s Executive Order 14081, the EPA, FDA, and USDA have issued a joint regulatory plan to modernize and enhance the regulatory framework for biotechnology. This plan aims to increase public confidence and improve the transparency, predictability, and coordination of biotechnology product oversight. It focuses on five key areas: modified plants, animals, microorganisms, human drugs and medical devices, and cross-cutting issues. The agencies will streamline regulations, enhance communication through a memorandum of understanding, and pilot a web-based tool to help developers identify regulatory responsibilities​​.

The plan builds on the existing Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology, first established in 1986 and last updated in 2017. It incorporates feedback from stakeholders gathered through a Request for Information, which included 88 distinct public comments. This initiative underscores a whole-of-government approach to fostering a sustainable, safe, and secure bioeconomy, aligning with the executive order's directives​​.

Read the full article here.

Survey Finds Key Barriers to Pharmaceutical Innovation

The International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering recently surveyed nearly 400 pharmaceutical professionals to uncover and address the barriers to pharmaceutical innovation.

The pharmaceutical industry faces multiple barriers to innovation, primarily involving regulatory, financial, and operational challenges. Stringent regulations and lengthy approval processes can slow down the development of new drugs and increase costs. Financial hurdles are significant, especially for start-ups, as they struggle to secure funding from investors wary of the high risks and uncertainties in drug development. Operational challenges arise from integrating new technologies like AI and novel therapeutic methods into existing frameworks, which require substantial changes in infrastructure and expertise​ (ZS Consulting)​​ (PharmaVoice)​​ (Technology Networks)​.

ISPE is planning to present proposals to multiple regulatory agencies intended to promote practical incentives for the industry and regulatory authorities to address specific challenges to innovation and continual improvement initiatives.

Read the full article here.

Bakeries turn to sustainability to energize the industry

Bakeries are increasingly prioritizing sustainability to enhance efficiency, reduce environmental impact, and foster stronger connections both internally and externally. Key areas of focus include improving worker safety, maintaining food quality, reducing energy and water consumption, and minimizing waste. Advanced technologies like sensor systems and the Internet of Things (IoT) are being employed to monitor and optimize resource use in real-time, helping bakeries to manage their operations more sustainably​.

Prominent companies in the industry, such as Grupo Bimbo and Hostess Brands, are setting ambitious sustainability goals, including achieving net zero carbon emissions, relying on 100% renewable energy, and ensuring all packaging supports a circular economy. These initiatives are part of a broader trend where bakeries aim to become more efficient and environmentally responsible, ultimately benefiting both the planet and their bottom lines​.

Read the full article here.

IGC cuts grains production forecast

The International Grains Council (IGC) has lowered its global grains production forecast for the 2024-25 marketing year by 10 million tonnes to 2.312 billion tonnes. This downward adjustment is due to expected decreases in corn production in Argentina and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as smaller wheat crops in Russia, Ukraine, and the U.S. Despite this reduction, the forecast remains 1% higher than the current year's projected total. On a positive note, global soybean production is anticipated to rise by 6% to a record of 414 million tonnes, while rice production is also expected to hit a record high​.

Read the full article here.

OSHA Updates Hazard Communication Standard

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently updated its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to align with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), which is an internationally recognized system for classifying and communicating chemical hazards. The updated standard includes revised criteria for classifying chemicals, revised labeling requirements, and a new specified format for safety data sheets (SDS). These changes aim to enhance worker protection by providing clearer and more consistent information about chemical hazards, thereby improving workplace safety and reducing the risk of chemical-related injuries and illnesses. Employers are required to train their employees on the updated standard by a specified deadline to ensure compliance with the new regulations and promote a safer work environment.

Read the full article here.

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