Thursday, December 04, 2008

An profile of Cargill from the "Our Hungry Planet" series

The Minneapolis St. Paul Star Tribune is doing a series this week called "Our Hungry Planet". The week long series looks at the supply and price of food. Today they profiled a big corporation that has a lot invested in food, Cargill.

Chris Serres a writer for the Star Tribune shows how the company is effected by food prices.

The giant food and agricultural company, along with others in the industry, became a corporate punching bag for human rights groups, academics and world leaders looking to assess blame for the worst food crisis since World War II.

The president of the United Nations General Assembly went so far as to accuse the industry of subordinating the "essential purpose of food, which is to nourish people."

In every crisis, there are winners, and if profiting from instability in the world food markets was a crime, the list of culprits would be long.

Commodities traders, speculative hedge funds and farmers from the Midwest were among the many reaping money from this year's dramatic run up in world food prices.What sets Cargill apart is not its profits -- which as far as large corporations go, are relatively modest as a percentage of its sales -- but the company's enormous size and role in global food markets, say agricultural experts. With $120 billion in annual revenues, Cargill is bigger than the economies of more than two-thirds of the world's countries, including Kuwait, Peru and Vietnam. Its sales exceed those of Disney, Kraft Foods and PepsiCo -- combined -- and it is nearly twice as large as its next closest competitor, Archer Daniels Midland.

With a leading position in nearly every phase of the food distribution system, Cargill can influence agricultural markets around the world and affect prices consumers pay for everything from hamburgers to bread, according to some agricultural economists.

1 comment:

Sam said...

I just came across your blog, and thought you might be interested in an alternative holiday giving site called “Give Something Big” ( It’s run by a Canadian international social justice organization called Inter Pares (, where I work – we partner with organizations around the world who are promoting positive social transformation in their societies. (You can see as an example our latest newsletter, on food politics: “Give Something Big" encourages donations in exchange for holiday cards. (The name plays on the idea of “giving” the concepts which are our main goals – peace, social justice, and equality – and that they are too big to be wrapped.) Visitors making a gift can receive up to ten printed or electronic cards; they can add their photo to their e-cards, or even create their own through mixing and matching the different gifts and characters. (Apologies if I’m posting this where I shouldn’t be.)