Companies in this industry distribute grains, such as corn, wheat, 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).
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.
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, field beans (pinto, navy, kidney), and grains such as oats and barley. Half of all field corn is used for livestock feed. Field corn is also used in industrial applications like biodegradable plastic; processed foods like breakfast cereal, salad dressing, margarine, soft drinks, and syrup; and ethanol fuel production.