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Renewed beef demand drives improved earnings for Cargill

Cargill has reported an increase in net earnings driven largely by consumer demand for beef.

Cargill reported $852 million in net earnings for the financial year ending August 31, a 66 percent increase over the $512 million in the first fiscal quarter last year.

Beef demand helped make Cargill’s animal and nutritional protein business the biggest contributor to adjusted operating earnings during the first fiscal quarter of 2016.

The company reported reduced sale volumes for aqua feeds that it attributed to weather-related events in key markets, but added those lowered volumes were partially offset by strong sales in functional feeds by the company’s new aqua nutrition unit.

Cargill said earnings from its origination and processing unit rose moderately compared with the same period last year due to stronger soybean processing margins and the reversal of mark-to-market losses from the previous quarter. For its Food Ingredients and Applications segment, the first fiscal quarter of 2016 saw improved earnings in starches, sweeteners and edible oils, with contributions from cocoa and chocolate products despite a recent shortage in mid-crop cocoa beans in Ghana.

During the quarter, Cargill bought cooked protein provider Five Star Custom Foods and sold two Texas cattle yards to Friona Industries. It also introduced a partnership with Heifer International to improve agricultural practices and food security in south-western China.

Reporting by Chris Janiec.