Grain & Field Bean Wholesalers
Companies in this industry distribute grains, such as corn, wheat, barley, and oats, and unpolished rice; dry beans; and soybeans and other inedible beans. Major companies include Archer-Daniels-Midland, Bunge, Cargill, and farmer-owned cooperative CHS (all headquartered in the US), along with Louis Dreyfus (the Netherlands).
Global revenue from corn, wheat, soybean, and rice production is about $800 billion annually, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. China is the largest cultivator of corn, the world's most-produced crop, as well as rice and wheat, followed by India and the US. The US is the largest cultivator of soybeans, followed by Brazil. Demand for grain crops is expected to grow in developing countries, where populations, wealth, and meat consumption are increasing rapidly.
Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM), Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus (collectively known as the ABCD companies) are dominant traders of grain globally. However, traders such as Olam and Wilmar International (both based in Singapore) are quickly establishing a global presence.
The US grain and field bean merchant wholesalers industry includes about 4,800 establishments (single-location companies or units of multi-location companies) that generate annual revenue of about $220 billion.
Demand is driven by food and fuel consumption. Increasing consumption of meat products has fueled significant growth in demand for animal feed, which is made from crops such as soy and corn. Also, growth of the biofuels industry has increased demand for corn for ethanol and soy for biodiesel. Large vertically-integrated distributors benefit from economies of scale in purchasing and transportation. Smaller companies may compete by specializing in a certain product or geographical area. The US industry is concentrated: the 50 largest companies account for about 70% of industry revenue.
Competition is principally based on price, quality, product and service offerings, and geographic location. The collective capacity of the ABCD companies -- Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM), Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus -- to procure, process, transport, and distribute agricultural commodities gives them a competitive advantage and outsized influence over global food systems, according to Oxfam.
While the major companies have long dominated the world trade in grains and other agricultural commodities, they are facing increasing competition from several new trading companies, particularly in Asia. Factors that could diminish their dominance include China's growing concern about the extent of its reliance on imports by the ABCD companies; plans by South Korea and Abu Dhabi to establish alternative trading platforms to ensure their own food security; rapid growth of meat consumption in Brazil, Russia, India, and China; and the growing availability of low-cost information and data collection, which is eroding the major traders' "information oligopoly," according to Oxfam.
Products, Operations & Technology
Major products distributed by the industry in the US are field corn (about 35% of revenue), soybeans (30%), and wheat (15%). Other products include rice,
Sales & Marketing
Finance & Regulation
Regional & International Issues
Also includes the following chapters:
Quarterly Industry Update
Trends and Opportunities
Call Preparation Questions
Glossary of Acronyms