ADM-controlled Toepfer reports a good year, reveals growing power of Eastern Europe's grain production

 

HAMBURG, Germany, August 4, 2003 -- CropChoice news -- Reuters, 08/01/03: German-based global grain trading house Toepfer International, controlled by U.S. agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland ADM.N , said on Friday its December 2001/November 2002 financial year saw "very positive business development."

The company sold 41.1 million tonnes of grains, oilseeds, oils and feeds of all types, up 3.8 percent on the year.

But the weaker exchange rate of the dollar against the euro and lower prices meant turnover fell 2.9 percent on the year to 5.8 billion euros.

The company traditionally does not release profit figures. But it said "a considerably higher dividend was distributed to shareholders."

"Business development in the first months of the new financial year was less satisfactory," it said. "Traded volumes were two percent lower than in the same period a year ago."

Toepfer said it was not possible to make a forecast about new year performance until the global harvest position was clearer.

"The expansion of our operations especially in the countries of the Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Poland should open up new opportunities both in imports and local business in these regions," it said.

It said grain volumes sold in Europe and Asia in 2001/02 were significantly higher than the previous year but were down on the year in South America. The reason was unattractive South American conditions.

Toepfer said the year was marked by the massive expansion of grain exports by east European countries benefiting from bumper harvests and improved transport infrastructure.

Toepfer has contributed to this by investment in regional silo and grain handling equipment, it said.

Chinese demand

The company again expanded its global oilseeds trade, especially soybeans.

Increased Chinese demand was a major factor supporting expansion.

Toepfer said it expects China's soybean imports to rise to 17 million tonnes in 2002/03, up four million tonnes in the last two years.

The important European Union feed ingredient market showed little change in 2001/02.

"Growth is not seen as probable in this market in the coming years," Toepfer said. "This is mainly due to the continuing high use of grains to feed farm animals."

"Around 120 million tonnes of grain is now used annually in this sector," Toepfer said. "This gives grain a share of more than 50 percent of total EU compound feed production in comparison to only 40 percent before the start of agricultural market reform in 1995/96."

The company has increased its feed grain activities to reflect this trend, it said.