Five Bulk Material Headlines You May Have Missed in April

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Here are five important bulk material handling headlines you may have missed in April.

Grain Stocks Look to Lose Value in 2023

The International Grains Council (IGC) has recently forecasted lower ending stocks for grains such as wheat, corn, and soybeans. This has significant implications for the agricultural industry and the global economy as a whole.

According to the IGC, the lower ending stocks are primarily due to the increased demand for grains, particularly in China. As the country continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, its demand for feed grains has increased, leading to a surge in grain prices. In addition, adverse weather conditions in major grain-producing regions such as the United States and Brazil have also contributed to the lower ending stocks.

The IGC's forecast has implications for engineers involved in the agricultural industry, as it highlights the need for innovative and sustainable solutions to increase crop yields and improve efficiency. With lower ending stocks, it becomes even more important to maximize the use of available resources and minimize waste.

The IGC's forecast of lower ending stocks for grains highlights the need for innovative and sustainable solutions in the agricultural industry. 

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EPA Proposes Possible Ban on Methylene Chloride

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a wide ban on the use of methylene chloride in paint strippers. This proposal follows a growing number of deaths linked to the chemical, which has been used in paint strippers for decades.

Methylene chloride is a toxic chemical that can cause serious health problems, including cancer, liver and lung damage, and even death. The EPA's proposed ban would prohibit the manufacture, processing, and distribution of methylene chloride in paint strippers for consumer use.

The proposed ban would apply to all paint strippers that contain more than 0.1% methylene chloride, including those sold online and in stores. The EPA has also proposed a requirement for manufacturers, processors, and distributors to notify retailers and others in the supply chain of the ban.

The EPA's proposal is based on a thorough review of the health risks associated with methylene chloride. The agency found that exposure to the chemical can cause harm to workers and consumers, including those who use paint strippers in their homes or in small businesses.

The proposed ban is part of a larger effort by the EPA to protect public health and the environment from harmful chemicals. The agency has been working to identify and regulate chemicals that pose a risk to human health and the environment, and to encourage the development of safer alternatives.

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Baked Foods Jump Nearly 1% in March

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for baked foods and cereals has increased by 0.9% in the month of May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This marks the largest monthly increase in the CPI for baked goods and cereals since January 2015. The increase in prices is due to a combination of factors, including higher commodity prices, increased transportation costs, and supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bakers should be aware of these price increases, as they may need to adjust their pricing strategies to maintain profitability. One option may be to pass on the increased costs to consumers by raising prices. However, bakers should be cautious about doing so, as consumers may be hesitant to pay more for baked goods in a challenging economic environment.

Overall, the recent increase in the CPI for baked goods and cereals highlights the ongoing challenges facing the food industry in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Supply Chain Issues Still Plague Chemical Manufacturers

Supply chain disruptions have continued to impact chemical manufacturers, despite the easing of the COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions. The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on supply chains around the world, and the chemical industry was no exception. The industry faced several challenges, including reduced production capacity, transportation disruptions, and raw material shortages.

According to a recent survey by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), a trade association representing the chemical industry, 93% of companies say supply chain and freight transportation disruptions are impacting their chemical manufacturing business.

In fact, among respondents, about 36% of companies experienced customers cancelling orders because they were concerned their order would not arrive or would not arrive on time. 

Jeff Sloan, Senior Director of Transportation and Infrastructure Issues for the ACC said “hoping things will improve on their own is not a strategy.” He goes on to say that “there are several policy reforms that are ready to go that could address these major transportation problems no and in the future.”

While the ACC is calling on the Surface Transportation Board to help increase competition in the rail industry to relieve shipping costs, they are also urging Congress to take immediate action by passing an act to increase gross vehicle weight (GVW) to help improve truck capacity.

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Department of Agriculture Raises Sugar Production Outlook

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has raised its sugar supply forecast for the United States. The forecast for 2022-23 US sugar supply is at 14.6 million tons, up 129 thousand tons from 2021-22. The increase in supply easily offsets a small drop in domestic beet sugar production.

According to the USDA, beet sugar production is expected to reach 5.1 million STRV, down 10,285 tons from the previous forecast. On the other hand, cane sugar production is up 5,430 tons, at 4.1 million tons.

The USDA also raised its estimate for sugar imports to 3.5 million STRV, up from the previous estimate of 3.4 million STRV. This increase is due to higher imports of specialty sugars, such as organic and fair trade sugars from Mexico.

The increase in sugar supply is good news for food manufacturers, as it means a more stable supply and potentially lower prices. However, it may also lead to increased competition among sugar producers. Overall, the USDA's increase in sugar supply forecast is a positive development for the food industry. 

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