Category Archives: News

California Rice Grower Signs Deal to Sell Rice to China

After trying for 15 years to break into the Chinese rice market, a 100-year old family business based in Sacramento has cut a deal to sell its rice in China. In July, Sun Valley Rice became the first US company to sell its rice in China.


“China has been tough to get into because for many years it was illegal to sell our rice there,” said Betsy Ward, president of USA Rice, a national trade association.


Until a 2018 agreement was forged between the US and China, it was illegal for the US to sell rice to China. When that law was lifted over 25 US companies were approved to sell their rice to China. Sun Valley became the first to make a deal.


“We would travel regularly to China to research [the market], attend trade shows and meet the industry players,” said Ken LaGrande, who founded Sun Valley Rice with his father Michael in 2000. “It was a commitment we made as a family to persist. So when the opportunity opened up, we were ready.”


The LeGrande Family has been producing rice in the Sacramento Valley since the 1920s LaGrande’s great-grandfather saw that the area’s climate, water supply, and soil was correctly proportioned to perfectly grow rice. Over the years the family incorporated other parts of rice production into their business, including drying and milling. This business became the LaGrande Family Foods Group. Now the Group is composed of many different operations, including farming, sprouting rice and milling sake.

Rice fields north of the City of Sacramento. Photo Courtesy of Mark Miller.


Almost 20 years ago, in 2000, LaGrand and his father Michael saw an increased market demand for high quality, specialized rice. That is when Sun Valley Rice was born.


“Sun Valley Rice now is a fully integrated arm of the family business, ‘from farm to fork’ if you will,” said LaGrande. “We source rice from 200 farms, or about 10% of the rice crop gown in California. And we handle drying, milling, packaging and marketing of the rice.”


It is likely other rice growers will also land deals to sell their rice in China.


“We have the first sale. But we really hope there will be strong continuing demand for American rice in China, and that allows, in turn, more opportunity for farmers back in California,” LeGrande said.

Ericsson’s First Smart Factory is Coming to Somewhere in the USA


Although its exact location has not yet been announced, Ericsson confirmed that it is going to build its first smart factory in the USA soon. The factory will be fully automated and will build advanced antenna system radios as well as 5G radios. The products are both essential components for the insertion of 5G networks into North America.


The new factory is an additional component of the company’s global supply chain. Already working closely with its customers in Europe, Asia and America, Ericsson is continuing to insure they meet their customers’ needs.


Vice President and Head of Networks for Ericsson, Fredrik Jejdling, said;


“We continue to focus on working closely with our customers and supporting them in the buildout of 5G globally and in North America. In addition, we are digitalizing our entire global production landscape, including establishing this factory in the US. With 5G connectivity we’re accelerating Industry 4.0, enabling automated factories for the future.”


The company says that they want to open the new factory by the beginning of 2020. Their vision is that the new smart factory will be powered by Ericsson 5G solutions which are built specifically for industry. The operation will help to promote sustainability, including the goal of receiving LEED Gold Certification.


In the early stages the new factory will employ about 100 human workers working in tandem with the automation. The company already has a new R&D facility and software development center in Austin, Texas, which is already near the Austin ASIC Design Center. The Center opened at the end of 2017 and builds core microelectronics for 5G radio base stations.

Trump Meeting with British Business Leaders in London

Marillyn Hewson, President/CEO of Lockheed Martin. Photo courtesy of NASA


President Donald Trump is meeting with 10 English business leaders for breakfast this week to discuss issues relevant but not exclusive to, defense, banking and pharmaceuticals. Among the key execs invited are Sir Roger Carr, chairman of BAE Systems; John Pettigrew, CEO of National Grid; and Emma Walmsley of GSK and Barclay’s Jes Staley.


The working breakfast will last about one hour and will take place at St. James’s Palace in Central London. British Prime Minister Theresa May is co-hosting the event with Trump.


The focus of the meeting will be the crucial nature of cooperation and collaboration between English and American companies. In attendance will also be important members of the US business community, including head of Lockheed Martin, Marillyn Hewson; Estée Lauder UK and Ireland chief executive, Philippe Warnery. Fidelity Investments CEO, Abigail Johnson, is also on the list of invitees.

Wine Consumption Growing Around the World

Image by Sharad Jadvani from Pixabay

According to the most recent Vinexpo/IWSR wine and spirits report, the world is expected to consume US $207 billion by the year 2022, drinking approximately 2.7 billion 9-liter cases. That represents growth in the industry of 2.15% between the years 2017 and 2022.
Due to the recent practice to “drink less but better,” value has out-paced volume in growth all over the world. This is especially true in North, South and Central America as well as in the Asia-Pacific region.


The United States is still the world’s most valuable market for wine with a value of US$34.8 billion in 2017. After the US France is rated the second most lucrative market worth about US$16 billion. China comes in at a close third with US$ 16.5 billion in sales.


Vinepress forecasts the China will overtake France as the second largest consumer of wine by the year 2020, with a value of over US$19 billion.


The top five markets for volume of sales did not seem to change in the last year with
• USA sold 318 million cases
• Italy sold 266 million
• France sold 250 million
• Germany 224 million
• China 156 million

Three Relatively Unknown Companies Entering US Market

Two Canadian companies and one from Israel are on the verge of entering the large and lucrative US market, hoping to cash in.


Pembina

Pembina Pipeline is a NYSE listed company (PBA), is an energy infrastructure company relatively unknown to most US investors. The coming months will change their profile in the US, as they are aiming to make a positive final investment decision to purchase Jordan Cove liquid natural gas (LNG) export facility along the coast of Oregon, for $10 billion.
Pembina received conditional approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) if it adheres to strict rules about reducing its environmental impact.


Canada Goose
Canada Goose manufactures high-end winter clothing, and is already a popular brand in the US, but its direct retail presence in the lower 50 is minuscule. With only 4 stores in the US (and only 11 worldwide) the company is poised to make an impact on the US retail market.
The company is planning on opening its 5th store in the US at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, the location picked because it is a key tourist destination. The store will even feature a “cold room” where customers can try the coats on in the environment they were meant to be worn in.


UroGen Pharma
Israeli-based UroGen Pharma (NASDAQ-URGN) plummeted 34% over the past 12 months, and 10% since the beginning of 2019, but investors should think of the price decline as a bargain and opportunity, and not necessarily a warning.
The company develops drugs to treat rare cancers of the urinary tract. UGN-101 is the company’s leading candidate for approval in the US, as it has built a good reputation leading up to approval by US regulators later in 2019.
Analysts say the drug should reach peak yearly sales of over $500 million. This might not seem like much compared to top selling pharmaceuticals that can make as much as $1 billion, but the company today is valued at only $800 million. Bottom line, most investors are in the dark about UroGen Pharma, but we expect that to change before 2019 ends.