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China's biggest food company looks to partnering rivals instead of fighting them

Beijing

CHINA'S largest food company is open to partnering with its competitors as it seeks to meet its biggest challenge: feeding the world's most populous country.

"We will make sure we have a strong global supply chain to serve our goal in the China market and food security in China," Cofco Corp president Patrick Yu said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

"Our strength is in China. We have to keep strongly in mind that we're a Chinese company, we know China's markets," he said.

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The comments emphasise how Cofco has shifted away from seeking to create a global giant to compete with companies including Archer-Daniels-Midland Co, Bunge Ltd, Cargill Inc and Louis Dreyfus Co, known collectively as the "ABCDs".

Its ambitions have been scaled back after the departure of Matt Jansen as head of its international trading arm last year and as surprise trading losses were found on the books of Nidera BV, which Cofco acquired full control of last year.

"Going global is never easy and we have learned a lot over the past three years. I think Cofco is now becoming much stronger and much more realistic, with the right approach," Mr Yu said. "We would rather be partners with them instead of a competitor," he said, referring to the ABCDs.

While Cofco's current focus is on Chinese food security and seeking out partnerships, there's still room for the company to invest in origination and independent supply chains in both Brazil and Argentina, according to Mr Yu, who is also a delegate of the National People's Congress. He did not rule out revisiting global ambitions in the longer term. BLOOMBERG