(updated June 2013)
2013 is the year when consolidation of Australia’s food industry has reached a new (and somewhat alarming) high. The ACCC has just approved the $3 billion takeover of Australia’s GrainCorp by US giant ADM. The Nationals have criticised the move. It will mean one foreign company will own seven out of eight port facilities on the east coast. (More at ABC PM and Background Briefing from16th June).
This puts the majority of our grain into the hands of large multinational companies. ABB Grain, AWB and now Graincorp have moved from Australian-owned operations to foreign owned in the last 4 years. See consolidation map below and ABC article (from May).
Here’s a snapshot:
- ABB Grain was Australia’s largest agribusiness when it was bought by Viterra, Canadia’s largest grain handler, in 2009. Viterra was merged with Glencore, the world’s largest diversified commodities trader in January 2013. Glencore has been criticised for tax evasion, fraud, dealing with rouge states, conflict minerals and more (as outlined in the excellent info-animation by Hungry Beast). On 2 May 2013, Glencore completed its long-anticipated merger with mining company Xstrata, creating an entity with 2012 sales of US$209 billion. (Extremely Big).
- The AWB (Australian Wheat Board) was acquired in 2010 by the Canadian firm Agrium, and then onsold in in 2011 to Cargill, the largest privately held US Corporation. In Australia, Cargill supplies oilseed, grain, sugar, livestock feed, pharmaceuticals, and is our second largest beef processor. Cargill has been criticised as a major buyer of cotton in Uzbekistan and for deforesting Amazon rainforest in order to produce soy.
- New owner of Graincorp, ADM (Archer Daniel’s Midland) is one of the world’s largest processors of soybeans, corn, wheat and cocoa. Criticised for 1993 price fixing scandal, pollution and palm oil-related deforestation, and cocoa-related child labour. They own 15% of Wilmar International.
- The CBH Group, the only remaining large Australian owned player, is a grain growers’ cooperative that handles, markets and processes grain from the wheatbelt of Western Australia.
From ABC.net.au, 1.5.13