Cargill mulls investment in poultry sector

Posted on October 23, 2015

INTERNATIONAL agriculture producer and trader Cargill, Inc. is looking at further expanding its business in the Philippines, particularly in the poultry industry.

Expansion in the poultry industry is seen to complement Cargill’s animal nutrition business. -- BW File Photo
In a media briefing on Thursday, Cargill Chairman for Asia Pacific Alan Willits said the company is studying a possible investment in the poultry industry.

“We’re thinking of what we can do to accelerate our activities here. We have growth in our animal nutrition business. We’re looking in getting into new things like poultry in the Philippines, we think that’s an interesting area. That would be an area we are hoping to make an investment in, in the near future, certainly within the year. Tens and tens of millions (of dollars), for now. It’s currently under study,” Mr. Willits said.

However, he declined to disclose other details.

Expansion in the poultry industry is seen to complement Cargill’s animal nutrition business. Cargill presently operates animal feed mills in Pangasinan, Bulacan, and Misamis Oriental.

The company’s Philippine branch started as an exporter for coconut products for its vegetable oil business in the United States.

Cargill also has a copra crushing plant in General Santos City for processing crude coconut oil.

Citing the Philippines as a bright spot amidst global economic volatility, Cargill senior officials said an improvement in infrastructure and a balanced regulatory framework will buoy the Philippines’ international trade prospects.

“It’s about creating the infrastructure. We see countries with great potential, but have inability to move it from areas of production to areas of demand,” Mr. Willits said.

He mentioned Africa as a region with great agricultural capability, but does not have the necessary infrastructure to take advantage of its homegrown resources.

“It’s also about regulatory harmonization. If a Filipino farmer grows food here, and they meet the Filipino standard, then that standard would be accepted in Indonesia or Thailand,” Bruce Blakeman, vice president of corporate affairs for Cargill Asia-Pacific, said.

Only 16% of the world’s food supply crosses international borders, with the rest dedicated to domestic consumption, according to a study by Cargill.

Meanwhile, Cargill said it had contributed $500,000 for a two-year coconut tree replanting program benefitting 2,000 coconut smallholder farmers in the Visayas region, which was devastated by typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in November 2013.

“We’ve been able to replant thousands of hectares of fast-growing coconut trees,” said Mr. Willits.

Coconut crops were most affected by the super typhoon, with $396 million in losses according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in April 2014. The same report said that 1 million coconut farmers were affected with an estimated 33 million destroyed coconut trees. -- Nicolo Paolo A. Pascual