There are too many crops on earth -- and it's killing one of the world's biggest commodity traders

A massive global oversupply of crops and a stable environment caused havoc for one of the world’s biggest agricultural trading houses in 2015, as low prices crushed profits and decreased sales.

Louis Dreyfus Company reported its annual results on Monday, and things do not look good for the company going forward.

The trader announced that its net income fell by 67% last year, dropping to $211 million, while the amount brought in in sales also declined substantially. Sales fell from $64.7 billion to $55.7 billion, despite volumes actually increasing by 1%.

Here are some of the key figures from the results:

  • Income before tax down from $837 million in 2014, to $416 million in 2015.
  • Capital expenditure fell from $592 million in 2014 to $420 million in 2015.
  • Total assets fell by $0.8 billion to $18.6 billion.
  • Volumes of commodities shipped up by 1% to 81 million tons.
  • Segment operating results slipped to $1.36 billion, down from $1.78 billion last year.

Agricultural commodities like soy beans, rice, oats, and orange juice have been hit hard — much like hard commodities — by huge gluts in recent years. Those gluts, along with a “low volatility environment” have helped keep prices low, and hit the profitability of Dreyfus, and competitors like Cargill and Bunge.

Speaking about the results, Dreyfus’ CEO Gonzalo Ramírez Martiarena said: “2015 was a difficult year for the entire industry, marked by geopolitical issues that contributed to an environment of reduced commercial opportunities. However, our results have shown our resilience under the circumstances.”

Martiarena, who took over as CEO in October went on to say: “The world in which we operate is continuously evolving – consumers are becoming more demanding and our competitive landscape is changing.” That changing landscape is something that Dreyfus is looking to address through joint ventures in many of its businesses.

While Martiarena is the chief executive, Dreyfus is controlled by billionaire chairperson Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, who took control of the company after the death of her husband Robert Louis-Dreyfus. Dreyfus died of cancer in 2009.

Alongside the results, the company also confirmed that it is changing its name from Louis Dreyfus Commodities, to Louis Dreyfus Company.

On the same day as the company announced its results, Louis Dreyfus Company also said that Margarita Louis-Dreyfus has given birth to twin girls. She will take a brief leave of absence as a result. “Mother and babies are doing well,” the company said, according to Reuters.

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