Business / Companies

Cofco takes a bite out of nation's food insecurity

By Bloomberg News (China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-03 07:11

Cofco's role

Cofco will be "a powerful global agricultural trader and able to procure directly around the world," Fitch Ratings Ltd said in an April 3 report.

The numbers show why. China has 21 percent of the world's population with just 9 percent of its arable land, and an even smaller percentage of fresh water, according to Jefferies Group LLC. Rising incomes are driving demand for more protein-rich food, while domestic output is close to its limits, Abhijit Attavar, an analyst with Jefferies in Singapore, said in an April 15 report.

In the task of feeding China, Cofco will have plenty of competition.

Archer-Daniels-Midland Co, Bunge Ltd and Cargill of the US, as well as France's Louis Dreyfus Holding BV - known collectively as the A-B-C-Ds - control more than 70 percent of global grain trade, according to Tokyo-based Continental Rice Corp.

Others sensing big opportunities in food include Japan's Mitsui & Co. The trading house has built a farming and trading network almost from scratch since 2007 and can tap assets on five continents.

Japan's trading houses have ventured into assets as diverse as Brazil soybean plantations to Thai shrimp farms and US corn silos. The world's biggest oil trader Vitol Group last year expanded into grains trading by setting up a Singapore desk.

"We're seeing that driven by SOEs, private enterprises and trading companies from other countries are looking to create supply chains that go from Australia into China and, indeed, from the Americas," said Patrick Vizzone, regional head of food and agribusiness at National Australia Bank.

Vizzone, who also sits on the board of Cofco unit China Agri-Industries Holdings Ltd, said he sees the potential for Chinese ventures and acquisitions in the grain, oilseed, mutton and beef industries.

There also may be bigger options.

Cofco takes a bite out of nation's food insecurity

Cofco takes a bite out of nation's food insecurity

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