New titans on the block: ABCDs lose top Brazil grains spot to Asian rivals
By Gustavo Bonato
SAO PAULO, March 23 (Reuters) - The world's top grain trading houses Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge Ltd Cargill and Louis Dreyfus, have lost their century-old dominance of Brazil's grains export market to their Asian rivals, data shows.
An analysis of shipping data by Reuters found that Asian trading houses, including China's state-owned COFCO, bought 45 percent of the country's soybean, corn and soybean meal exports last year. By comparison, the share purchased by the traders known collectively by the acronym "ABCD" was 37 percent.
That marked an abrupt turnaround from 2014 when purchases by the U.S. and European-based ABCD companies accounted for 46 percent of Brazil's grain exports, compared with 36 percent for Asian firms.
With populations growing in China's cities and other parts of the region, Asia has been scooping up more of the world's grains, and established Asia-based merchants like Wilmar International Ltd are growing their global footprint.
The data illustrates how Asian players have tightened their grip on supplies from Brazil, the world's top exporting country, challenging the trading titans who have traditionally acted as middlemen between farmers and consumers.
"The Chinese always wanted to buy directly from our farmers, but they wanted the grains delivered," said André Pessôa, head of the leading local consultant Agroconsult. "Now they finally realized they need to come and get them."
China's footprint is growing, in part, through acquisition. Government-owned COFCO bought 51 percent each of Dutch grains trader Nidera and of Hong Kong-based Noble Group's Noble Agri in 2014. Late last year, COFCO said it would buy the remaining 49 percent of Noble Agri.
Reuters analyzed more than a decade of shipping data from Williams Shipping Agency, a Brazil-based firm that acts as an agent for ships loading or discharging cargoes of anything from wheat to crude oil to passengers. Continuación...