BITE-SIZE MILLING & GRAINS NEWS

Ardent Mills delay, Bunge and EFKO deals and global cereal recovers

By Maggie Hennessy

- Last updated on GMT

This year's big joint venture Ardent Mills will be delayed until early 2014, but other purchases have happened this year
This year's big joint venture Ardent Mills will be delayed until early 2014, but other purchases have happened this year

Related tags: Ardent mills, Maize, Wheat, Conagra mills

The Ardent Mills deal has been delayed, Bunge and EFKO Group have been on a spending spree and global cereal stocks are looking healthier.

Ardent Mills deal delayed until early ‘14

The agreement to create Ardent Mills, a flour milling joint venture involving Cargill, CHS Inc. and ConAgra Mills that was expected to close late in 2013, is now expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2014. The firms cited various reasons for revising the timeline, including the ongoing regulatory review process and discussions with the US Department of Justice.

Announced in March 2013, Ardent Mills would merge the flour milling operations of ConAgra Mills and Horizon Milling, a Cargill-CHS joint venture formed in 2002, and operate as an independent joint venture. The company will be headquartered in Denver.

Bunge buys Grupo Altex wheat milling business

Bunge North America, the North American operating arm of Bunge Ltd., has agreed to buy the wheat milling business of Grupo Altex S.A. de C.V.  Financial terms were not disclosed.  The purchase is expected to close by the end of the year subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions. In addition to the mills, Bunge is acquiring Grupo Altex's product brands and its innovation center.

A leading Mexican wheat miller, Grupo Altex operates six mills with an annual processing capacity of approximately 800 thousand metric tons.  It produces a broad portfolio of products wheat varieties including bread flour, prepared flours for baked goods, tortillas and pizza and semolina for pasta.  These mills are well placed to serve Mexico's key population centers and will complement Bunge's existing wheat milling business, Harinera La Espiga, to provide nationwide coverage to key flour customers.

EFKO Group purchases Belgorod elevator

EFKO Group, the largest vertically integrated holding company in the Russian fats and oils market, has expanded its own facilities of oilseed storage by purchasing the Prokhorovsky elevator assets in the Belgorod region, known for sunflower production. The total capacity of the new elevator is 75 tons of grain, including silo and floor storage.

With this latest purchase, EFKO’s total grain storage capacity is now 629 million tons of grain, or 320.5 thousand tons of sunflower.

It will be the second storage of the company in the region—the OJSC elevator in Alekseyevka was already in use. EFKO has six additional private elevators located in the Voronezh, Rostov, Saratov and Krasnodar regions, and uses about 70 third-party elevators.

The EFKO Group was second overall in Russia for 2012-2013 sunflower processing.

Global cereal inventory recovers: FAO

Food commodity markets are becoming more balanced and less price volatile than in recent years thanks to improved supplies and a recovery in global inventories of cereals, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Food Outlook report.
The sharp increase in 2013 cereal production mostly stems from a recovery of maize crops in the US and record wheat harvests in CIS countries. World rice production in 2013 is expected to grow only modestly.

Global stocks, ending in 2014, are also anticipated to increase by 13% to 564 million tons, with coarse grains alone up by 30%, mostly in the US. Wheat and rice stocks are also projected to rise by 7% and 3% respectively. 

The expansion in world cereal stocks would result in the global cereal stocks-to-use ratio reaching 23%, well above the historical low of 18.4% in 2007-08.

In 2013, the world food import bill is set to decline by 3% to $1.15 trillion, with import costs of cereals, sugar, vegetable oils and tropical beverages falling, but dairy, meat and fish remaining firm, according to FAO's latest Food Outlook. 

Related topics: Milling & Grains

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