The company reported net earnings of $571m in Q1, down 41% from the same period last year. However, it pointed out that Q1 2013 was a record quarter, with earnings hitting $975m. First-quarter revenues for fiscal 2014 were equal year-on-year at $33.8bn.
Cargill’s protein segment was the only business unit to record an increase in earnings for the first quarter, with its beef segment boasting an improved performance as the result of “increased slaughter plant efficiencies”. The company’s animal nutrition results also improved year-on-year as the result of “margin improvements”.
Although Cargill’s origin and processing segment, which buys and sells grains and other crops globally, was the biggest contributor to profits in Q1 2014, its results were down year-on-year. Cargill said that strong performance by its South American supply chains were offset by losses in North America, which was still suffering the “impact of last year’s severe drought in the US”.
Its food ingredients and applications segment saw a small decrease in earnings, while its industrial and financial services experienced the biggest losses as a result of “mild weather, soft demand and low market volatility”, said Cargill.
Commenting on the results, Cargill’s chairman and chief executive officer Greg Page said: “Cargill did an excellent job managing the remaining effects of last year’s severe drought and smaller crops.
“Our agricultural supply chain and food ingredients businesses were focused on helping customers and the company to successfully manage their raw material purchases and inventories during the market uncertainty that precedes the transition to new crops in the northern hemisphere.”