A US food giant in Brazil faces scrutiny

Briefly: Cargill, the world’s largest grain trader and the biggest privately-held US company, is facing a legal complaint in the US for failing to remove deforestation from its supply chain in Brazil.

Brazil is a key link in the global food supply chain: it ranks first for exports of sugar, poultry, beef, and soybeans (used to feed livestock everywhere). So basically, if you’ve ever eaten anything, chances are you have Brazil to thank for it.

But it may come at a cost: during Bolsonaro’s presidency in Brazil, the Amazon lost an area larger than Denmark (mostly for crops, cattle and logging).

Intrigue’s take:A few interesting angles here. First, Cargill is massive, so the decisions taken in its Minnesota boardroom have global impacts. Eg:

  • It employs over 155,000 folks in 70 countries
  • It’s the largest poultry producer in Thailand, and
  • It handles pretty much all the eggs used in US McDonald’s restaurants

Second, despite doing $165B in annual revenue, Cargill is actually family-owned. So it’s often avoided the blowtorch of public scrutiny that listed firms can face.

And third, it’s not facing a court case, but a process of the Paris-based OECD (a rich nation club). So US officials are the decision-makers, with power to mediate.

So all in all, you can see why big-wigs everywhere will be watching with interest.

Also worth noting:

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