Agricultural commodities trader Bunge to sell California rice mill to Farmers’ Rice Cooperative

US – Chesterfield-based agricultural commodities trader Bunge Ltd has announced plans to sell its rice mill located in Woodland, California, to the Farmers’ Rice Cooperative.

Also based in California, Farmers’ Rice Cooperative is grower-owned marketing cooperative that sells a range of rice products in the U.S. and internationally.

The rice mill acquisition is part of a broader deal that will see Farmers’ Rice Cooperative (FRC) buy the assets of Bunge’s Pacific International Rice Mill, also known as PIRMI.

PIRMI is a leading producer of medium-grain rice for domestic and international foodservice distributors, grocers and wholesale suppliers.

PIRMI’s primary assets are the rice milling, drying and storage facilities in Woodland and its market-leading product brands.

Following the acquisition, the rice mill’s more than 60 management and operations employees are also expected to join FRC.

Commenting on the sale Greg Hackman, Bunge’s CEO said: “As part of our portfolio review, we determined that this mill has limited connections to Bunge’s broader value chains. We will work closely with the new owners to make the transition as smooth as possible for employees and customers.”

The sale is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close by the end of 2020, officials said. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Bunge Ltd. sources, processes and supplies oilseed and grain products and ingredients, and has nearly 25,000 employees worldwide.

According to Bunge’s annual report, the  milling products segment, which includes wheat, corn and rice milling businesses, reported net sales of nearly US$1.74 billion in 2019, up 3% from the prior year.

The uptick in 2019 was driven primarily by higher sale prices for wheat products in Brazil, the acquisition of two corn mills in the U.S. in 2018, and higher sale prices in its U.S. rice milling business.

In its recently released results, Bunge recorded a net income of US$262 million, a positive improvement compared with a loss of over $1.49 billion in last year’s quarter, when the company took about $1.7 billion in charges.

For the recent quarter, Bunge reported net sales of $10.16 billion, down from $10.32 billion in the third quarter of 2019.

Bunge last week said its Bunge Loders Croklaan JV has agreed to sell a refinery in the Netherlands for 258 million euros, or about $300 million, in cash to Neste Corp.

Bunge Loders Croklaan is Bunge’s business-to-business edible oils company, producing and supplying plant-based specialty oils and fats for the food manufacturing industry.

The company said it will lease back the facility from Neste through 2024 in what it termed a “phased transition” so it can continue to supply its customers with its products.

That deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021, subject to regulatory approvals.

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