U.S.-based agricultural export company Cargill has run out of soybeans at a key crushing plant in Argentina, prompting it to suspend operations at the site for two months, local industry sources said Friday.
Sixty employees were notified of the closure, the sources said, although final approval for the temporary closure has yet to be ordered from company headquarters in Minneapolis. The company had no immediate comment.
Argentina has had less soy to crush in recent years while its top commodities client China invests more in its own plants used to turn beans into soymeal livestock feed and soyoil, used for cooking and in the manufacture of biofuels.
The trend poses a threat to Argentina’s domestic crushing industries. But local plants have decreased their idle capacity to 25 per cent this year from 34 per cent in 2013, according to the CIARA-CEC export industry chamber, which says idle capacity in the South American country ideally should not exceed 15 per cent.
Argentina’s soyoil sales to China amounted to 31,300 tonnes in the first quarter of this year versus 47,198 tonnes in the same 2012 period. Sale of raw Argentine beans to China increase by 66 per cent in the same time frame.
— Reporting for Reuters by Hugh Bronstein in Buenos Aires.