Why are Food Prices Soaring as U.S. Experiences Worst Drought Ever!
By Hwaa Irfan
‘The head of Glencore’s food trading business has said the worst drought to hit the US since the 1930s will be “good for Glencore” because it will lead to opportunities to exploit soaring prices.
Chris Mahoney, the trader’s director of agricultural products, who owns about £500m of Glencore shares, said the devastating US drought had created an opportunity for the company to make much more money.’
Glencore is one of the world’s largest commodities brokerage corporations that avoids taxation. Glencore is owned by Marc Rich. He’s American, the company is Swiss, and it’s listed on the London Stock Exchange.
Pardoned by former President Bill Clinton (2001), Belgian-born Rich was wanted for racketeering, evading millions of dollars in taxes (U.S$48mn) and trading with the enemy: the Ayatollahs’ Iran. It is worth noting that Rich’s lawyer from 1985 – 2000 was Scooter Libby – Vice-President Dick Cheney’s former Chief of Staff!
Using strong relationships with business and political leaders in countries with large commodity reserves, Rich developed Glencore International from a small, secretive trading firm into one of the biggest buyers, sellers and producers of commodities in the last three decades. In January 2010, Nathaniel Philip Rothschild of the Rothschild’s bought a substantial share of the Glencore mining and oil business.
Glencore Int’l deals in metals, minerals, crude oil, oil products, coal, natural gas, agricultural, automotive, power generation, steel production and food processing industries – meaing food is not about health of the customers, but profits by any means.
Talking to the Guardian, Raj Patel, an expert in the global food trade and former UN employee, said Glencore and other multinational food traders were in a “fine position to make money from a crisis because they’ve pushed for an international economic system that relies on them”.
“They [Glencore] are millionaires making money from other people’s misery caused by the drought,” he said. “It’s the sad fact of how the international food system – that they pushed for and our governments gave to them – works.
“It’s unsurprising that a crisis is a revenue generator.”
Referred to as the “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity” in Rolling Stone Magazine. Glencore is one of the world’s largest grain exporters, with about 9% of the global market according to its IPO prospectus.
Glencore has covered the major avenues of increasing revenue in the global food industry from accessing and exploiting raw materials (wheat, barley and corn), oil/oilseeds (including most edible oils and biodiesel), cotton and sugar, production, processing, transportation, and stores. Glencore states that by 31 December 2011, it had revenues of US$186.15bn. Glencore is the leading exporter of grains to Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States and Australia.
But sometimes, all good things come to an end, we the consumers learn about the high cost of living in excess, and that live is more than about what we can own.
Glencore reports for the first 6 months of 2012, a drop in net profits by 8% due to falling prices of materials. Does pushing the price up make it a more likely buy!
“Glencore-Viterra: Information for Farmers and Growers.” http://www.glencore.com/documents/Glencore-Viterra_information_for_Growers_and_Farmers.pdf
Neate, R. “Glencore food chief says US drought is ‘good for business’. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/aug/21/glencore-us-drought-good-for-business?newsfeed=true
Patel, R. “At Glencore’s pinnacle of capitalism, even hunger is a commodity.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/may/05/glencore-hunge-commodity-food-prices
Werdigier, J. “Glencore to Emerge From Shadows With I.P.O.” http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/05/12/glencore-to-emerge-from-shadows-with-i-p-o/