China - English

Trade Talks: Spotlight on Juice

January 25, 2024

As one of the world’s largest merchants and processors of citrus juices, LDC has been active in the juice business, from grove to glass, for over 30 years.

We spoke to Alice, our juice trader in China, about her daily work life, the importance of customer care, and how LDC creates sustainable value from every drop of juice we produce.

Trade-Talks-Juice

Q
To start off with, can you tell us what led you to become a juice trader?

A

It’s hard for me to think of a more significant professional space than agribusiness – it’s literally the basis of how the world is fed and clothed. And as a trader, you’re at the very heart of it all – in the middle of a global supply chain, connecting supply and demand, to nourish millions of people globally, each year. I find that fascinating!


Q
So how does that work, in practical terms?

A

Fundamentally, I help our customers find the most suitable citrus and apple juice products for them, while helping the supply side find the right clients, such as beverage and food companies. I’m based in Shanghai, responsible for our business in North and Southeast Asia.


Q
Can you describe a typical working day?

A

Every day is different, and that’s one of the things I love about this job!

I liaise with different teams around the world, across the supply chain – such as operations, quality, execution, logistics, legal and finance – to ensure each deal is aligned with the client’s specific needs.

Since my colleagues work in different time zones, mornings generally start with a good number of emails to catch up with. Once done, I usually contact my clients to discuss market updates and address their inquiries.

Afternoons are generally dedicated to managing issues and attending meetings, before connecting with my origination colleagues in Brazil to discuss ongoing and plan forthcoming operations.

People sometimes assume that all we do is buy and sell behind a computer screen, but a huge part of our job is about interactions: building relationships with clients, exchanging information with colleagues and monitoring the market. So smooth, efficient communication is key to stay ahead of the curve, as we need to address continual market fluctuations in the decisions we make.


Q
Do you remember your first deal?

A

Of course – I don’t think anyone forgets that!

I was still a junior trader and had been asked to negotiate an orange not-from-concentrate (NFC) juice contract with a Chinese client. This was a new client for LDC, so it was hugely important for me to strike a deal and build a working relationship with them.

At first, the client wanted to sign a one-year contract, which was quite challenging since prices were evolving very quickly at the time, and the client wanted to wait until things calmed down. I took a chance and suggested a shorter delivery period, after which we could reassess how to move forward. And it worked!

At the time, this was a huge success for me, being my first deal on my own. And it really was the right approach, as I’m still working with this client today!

I’m definitely less anxious since that first, nerve-racking transaction! You gain confidence with experience and business understanding. I’m much more confident now to build a relationship with new clients, and over time, it sometimes feels like I’m talking with old friends!


Q
In terms of interactions with clients, what do you focus on most?

A

In broad terms, you make customer priorities your priorities: customer centricity is fundamental to the way we operate at LDC.

As an example, one of the leading beverage companies here in China was keen to enter the NFC market. They made careful evaluations and raised special requirements to suppliers, and although it was difficult to meet all their conditions, our teams worked together to match them. They have now become one of the biggest NFC juice brands in China, working with us as their strategic partner. By focusing on their needs and going the extra mile, LDC gained an important client for our business.


Q
What influences your trading decisions?

A

Many factors: long and short positions, LDC’s strategy, competitor behaviors, and a deep understanding of the market. And increasingly, a greater focus on sustainable supply chain requirements, both internally and from the market – and I’m happy to see this evolution across the industry!


Q
Why do you feel sustainability requirements are growing from customers and consumers? And how is LDC addressing these?

A

More and more people are paying closer attention to the origin and safety of their food – here in China and globally. From zero additives to clean labels, there is growing demand for products made with as few modifications as possible.

Also, as new technologies emerge, there is a growing emphasis on traceability and certification across the production chain – from fruit grower to juice retailer.

It’s positive progress, and at LDC we are continually evolving to keep pace with accelerating demand for sustainable practices.

Firstly, we minimize waste by ensuring that every part of the fruit is used in our production process. Juice is extracted, oils are recovered, and all remaining pulp is transformed into pellets, as an animal feed ingredient.

We have also built sustainable solutions into our operations across the juice value chain, including investments in an increasingly eco-efficient fleet to transport our juices from Brazil to Europe.

Certification is also central to our juice sustainability efforts, in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance, the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform, Fairtrade and other entities. Frozen concentrate orange juice and NFC juices certified by the Rainforest Alliance are two of the latest additions to our product portfolio, alongside standard orange, lemon and lime juices.

All these efforts give our clients, and their end-customers, confidence that the LDC juice products they buy have been produced responsibly.


Q
Thanks for sharing, Alice – and to conclude, what advice or insight would you share with someone interested in becoming a trader?

A

For me, you need three things: a passion for trading, a thirst for knowledge, and resilience to accept when you fail.

Passion is a precondition to success, because it generates motivation, concentration, diligence and drive – all of which you need in this work.

Continual learning is also key, because identifying a good deal requires learning and relearning in a constantly changing landscape (both up- and downstream, from origination to clients and their products).

Finally, you might not always make the right decisions in a fast-changing market – it’s possible to get it wrong. When you fail, it’s important to accept it, dust yourself off and learn lessons to ensure you’re even better prepared for the next deal.

To all aspiring traders out there, go for it! It’s inspiring and rewarding to be a part of something bigger!

TAGS:

Contact Us

Contact us