Wednesday, October 28, 2020

"Agriculture Giants Are Finally Making Money From Trading Again"

 From Bloomberg, October 27:

The world’s largest agricultural commodity firms are finally making money from trading again.

After years of lackluster returns as bumper crops curbed the volatility traders need to thrive, the stars seem to have aligned for the likes of Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. and Bunge Ltd. China is loading up on American corn and soybeans, profits from oilseeds processing have rebounded, and a drought in Brazil is boosting prices. Even the beleaguered biofuels market is improving.

“There’s really strong demand and a fight for execution, so it’s a better operating environment because of the improved demand outlook,” Paul Maass, chief executive officer of U.S. grain handler Scoular Co., said in an interview. “I think the whole market feels that.”

That’s a stark turnaround for an industry that was stuck with thin margins as farmers increased storage capacity and gained access to more information, relying less on grain handlers at a time when seed development meant big yields year after year. Facing smaller commodity profits, traders diversified into everything from beef to pet food, fish feed and veggie burgers.

Soybean futures have jumped to a four-year high in Chicago and wheat last week touched the highest in almost six years. Corn has rebounded 36% since sinking in April to the lowest level in a decade...