A rise in sugar output in Brazil helped Glencore keep its
agricultural production growing despite poor weather in many of the countries
in which it farms, and difficult biodiesel markets.
The Swiss-based commodities giant said that production from
its farming operations fell by 18.5% to 674,000 tonnes last year.
While the group failed to detail output, its farms are in the
former Soviet Union and South America, regions where drought sapped crop output
In biodiesel, Glencore's output fell by 6.2% to 534,000
The group, which in 2011 mothballed its Schwarzheide plant
in Germany, warned last year of a "negative biodiesel production margin environment
However, Glencore's oilseed crushing operations raised
volumes by 38% to 2.78m tones, boosted by the acquisition of three plants, in
the Czech Republic, Poland and Ukraine, besides the completion of a Hungarian
A further plant, in Timbues, Argentina, began crushing in
And in sugar, the volume of cane crushed at its Rio Vermelho
operations in Brazil soared 39% to 1.26m tonnes, spurred by expansion which "continues
to progress on schedule".
Glencore, when buying in late 2010 for some $80m a 76% stake
in Rio Vermelho, of which it now owns 100%, said that it planned to double the
site's crushing capacity, then 1.1m tonnes.
Rio Vermelho is also being upgraded to supply energy to the
grid through burning off bagasse, the remnants of sugar production, with the
first phase of the so-called cogeneration activity to open in the second half
of this year.
Last year offered an improvement to Brazilian cane processors
in terms of volumes, with rains and new plantings boosting the harvest, but
mills suffered lower prices for what sugar was produced, with futures falling 19%
to 22 cents a pound on a year-average basis, according to Glencore.
Bunge, the US-based agricultural trading giant, last week
unveiled a 4.2% rise to 8.59m tonnes at its Brazilian sugar and bioenergy
division, but a 20% drop in revenues, to $4.66bn, and a 57% plunge to $64m in
Meanwhile, Singapore-based Olam International, under
pressure over its debts, revealed it had ditched plans to buy sugar operations in Brazil, and raised questions over a sugar refinery scheme in Nigeria too,
potentially saving nearly Sing$500m in investment spending.
Glencore's overall agricultural production rose by 13.2% to 7.43m
tonnes, with the group reporting rising output in coal and oil too.
However, volumes declined in some key base metals, such as copper
and zinc volumes falling, besides, among precious metals, in gold.
Glencore shares closed down 0.5% at 384.5p.