Cargill may be private, but it's highly visible. The agribusiness giant, the largest private corporation in the US, has operations in 67 countries. It has four business units -- Agriculture Nutrition & Protein (customized farm services and products); Food Ingredients and Applications (food and beverage ingredients, and meat and poultry products); Industrial; Origination and Processing (commodity origination, processing, marketing and distribution); and Industrial & Financial Services (physical products and risk management). Cargill's customers include food, beverage, industrial, pharmaceutical, and personal care product makers, as well as farmers and food service providers.
Cargill comprises more than 50 businesses units across its four business segments. The company offers a plethora of diversified operations and products, including grain, cotton, sugar, petroleum, and financial trading; food processing; futures brokering; health and pharmaceutical products; animal feed and crop protection; and industrial products such as biofuels, oils and lubricants, starches, salt, and fertilizer for crop and livestock farmers. Indeed, Cargill is one of the leading grain producers in the US, and its Excel unit (part of Cargill Meat Solutions) is a top US meatpacker. Cargill is also a major US supplier to McDonald's, providing the burger behemoth with eggs, oils, sauces, and beef products.
Minnesota-based Cargill has operations in 67 countries across six continents. North America is the company's largest market, accounting for 37% of sales and other revenues. The Asia-Pacific Region accounts for nearly a quarter of sales, and Europe nearly a fifth. Latin America accounts for 13% of sales, while Africa and the Middle East make up the remainder.
The agribusiness giant rang up about $135 billion in sales and other revenues in fiscal 2014 (ended May), a 1% decline from the prior year. Earnings from continuing operations dropped 19% to $1.87 billion in 2014 from 2013. The animal nutrition business posted higher results, with the impact of recent acquisitions and a strong blend of products and services. The company's other three business segments reported lower revenues due to weaker economic conditions in some regions, trade issues, and poor performance in energy.
Cargill is diversifying its products portfolio and reaching new geographic markets through a combination of acquisitions and joint ventures. The company has invested more than $3 billion to build major food and agricultural facilities in 13 countries to improve distribution. Projects include a poultry complex in China's Anhai province; another poultry plant in Russia; and additional capacity in Thailand. China was the site of several investments in liquid sweeteners and specialty fats. In Indonesia the company opened a cocoa processing facility. Cargill also began construction of a feed mill in South Korea. Back in the US, Cargill is closing beef-processing plants as the domestic supply of cattle shrinks. In June 2014, Cargill Beef announced plans to shutter a beef-processing plant in Wisconsin, after idling a plant in Plainview, Texas in 2013. The company has six remaining beef-processing plants in the US.
Cargill formed a joint flour-milling venture with ConAgra and farmer-owned cooperative CHS. The three partners combined their flour-milling operations to form Ardent Mills, the largest flour miller in North America, with annual sales of more than $4 billion. Cargill owns 44% of the venture. The Justice Department has told Cargill and ConAgra that they must sell four flour mills to resolve anticompetition concerns that their joint venture will lead to higher flour prices.
Typically, acquisitions make up about a third of Cargill's growth, but ultralow interest rates and lofty valuations suppressed the company's appetite for acquisitions in fiscal 2013.
Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestments
In 2014 the company acquired a salt production business the Mosaic Company. It expanded its edible oil portfolio with the acquisition of Leonardo Olive Oil from Dalmias. It also added Pet Carousel, a California dog treat producer, to its product merry-go-round.
In July 2013 Cargill acquired Siamakme Aquatic Feeds Co., Ltd., a shrimp feed manufacturer in Thailand, to expand its aquaculture business. The purchase added to Cargill's existing shrimp feed production capabilities Latin America, India, and Asia.
In July 2012, Cargill sold its global juice cold blends and compounds business to WILD Flavors GmbH. In December it sold its cultures and businesses to Royal DSM.
Cargill is 88% owned by the Cargill family, the descendants of founder W.W. Cargill who started the business in 1865 as a small grain storage company.