Agriculture Giant Cargill Reports Biggest Profit In 156-Year History

Agriculture company Cargill has reported the most profitable fiscal year in its history.

The largest private U.S. company, which was founded 156 years ago and today dominates markets for crops such as corn, reported net income of nearly $5 billion U.S. for its 2021 fiscal year that ended on May 31.

The results highlight the current boom in agriculture as prices for crops such as wheat, corn and soybeans hit record levels as demand spikes around the world.

Cargill, which is a privately held company, broke with its tradition of transparency in 2020 and stopped releasing its results publicly. However, the company has now resumed making its results public, as well as sharing them with its bankers and bondholders.

Cargill has profited from surging consumption of meat, corn and soybeans, particularly from China. The strong demand has sent agricultural markets skyrocketing this year, boosting profits for commodity producers and traders.

Cargill said it had net income of $4.93 billion U.S. in its 2021 fiscal year, up 64% from $3 billion U.S. in fiscal 2020 and well above a previous record of $3.95 billion U.S. set in 2008 at the height of China’s commodity super cycle.

During the last fiscal year, Cargill reported sales of $134.4 billion U.S., up from $114.6 billion U.S. a year earlier. The company enjoyed a sales-to-profit margin of 3.7%, which is large for a commodity trader.

In recent years, Cargill has sold underperforming businesses and bet heavily on global demand for proteins such as beef, chicken and fish.

Cargill has 155,000 employees across 70 countries and is owned by the heirs of William Wallace Cargill, who founded the company in the American Midwest. On top of the family owners, senior management and employees control a small stake in the private company.