This company is one of the nation’s four largest beef producers that collectively control more than 70 percent of the U.S. beef market.
As such a powerful force in the global agro-economy, Cargill has been the subject of much criticism in the past. From their ties to deforestation in their palm oil business to the abject devastation wrought on the Gran Chaco region of South America for livestock feed production, Cargill has been the target of many environmental campaigns.
According to a press release in Reuters, Cargill Inc announced it will exit the business of feeding cattle to direct capital toward other investments, the latest transformation for the global commodity trader.
Back in July of 2016, Cargill sold its feed yards in Bovina and Dalhart, Texas,
and now they have made another move to untangle themselves from the livestock business by selling the two remaining cattle feedlots in Kansas and Colorado. Effectively, Cargill is done with raising livestock for slaughter – although reports indicate that they will continue to purchase livestock from the two companies that have taken over these feedlots, for processing.
While this move is significant in itself, what is possibly even more shocking
is where Cargill plans to redirect their investment: plant-based protein. In a statement, spokesman Mike Martin explained that Cargill wants to expand its North America-based protein business by exploring plant-based protein, fish, and insects, along with other opportunities linked to livestock and poultry.
John Keating, president of Cargill’s Wichita, Kan.-based protein business operations and supply chain, echoed this sentiment in an interview with the Star Tribune: “Selling our two remaining feed yards aligns with our protein growth focus by allowing us to redeploy working capital away from cattle feeding operations to other investments.”
When it comes to expanding their focus on protein and growing into new sectors, choosing to invest in plant-based protein is plainly a smart business move on Cargill’s part.
Increasingly, consumers are demanding more clean, plant-based sources of protein – especially considering rising knowledge and concern over animal welfare and environmental impact of meat consumption. Not to mention, from a personal health standpoint, concerns over high levels of antibiotics and hormones in animal products, in addition to reports linking meat consumption to cancer, people are starting to view meat as a less than ideal protein source.
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