Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cargill Expects US Grain Volatility to Persist

Cargill, the US agribusiness conglomerate, said yesterday that it expected US grain prices to remain volatile for the coming year, prompting more food companies to expand their hedging activities to protect themselves from price rises.

“The volatility’s certainly going to continue,” David McLennan, chief financial officer, told FT.

“Just look at recent months. We had record prices in June, a sell-off in July and a rally in August.”

McLennan said he expected Cargill’s financial division to become increasingly important.

“We’re working more frequently with customers and partners to explain how hedging works,” he said.

“If you look at how we’ve changed over the past eight years, we’ve transformed from a transporter of commodities into a company rich in intellectual capital that we can use to help the marketplace understand and manage risk.”

Fearful that rising prices were prompting US consumers to cut back on meat purchases, Cargill also noted that last month it launched a line of value-priced beef, with traditional names for the cuts of meat swapped for more appealing-sounding options.

Skirt steak, for example, was renamed Marbello steak, while ball tip was rebranded Cabrosa steak.

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