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Ipswich-based grain trader eyes growth as net worth doubles

PUBLISHED: 16:27 07 August 2018 | UPDATED: 09:32 08 August 2018

Grain being loaded onto a COFCO UK lorry at Ipswich Grain Terminal at the Port of Ipswich Picture: TOM BARKER

Grain being loaded onto a COFCO UK lorry at Ipswich Grain Terminal at the Port of Ipswich Picture: TOM BARKER

Cofco UK

A giant grain trader which has its UK base in Ipswich is set to expand its operations.

COFCO UK's operations at Ipswich Grain Terminal, Port of Ipswich Picture: TOM BARKERCOFCO UK's operations at Ipswich Grain Terminal, Port of Ipswich Picture: TOM BARKER

Grain, seed and fertiliser firm COFCO, based at Ransomes business park, is planning to grow its UK operations through more fixed asset purchases and business acquisition.

COFCO International, which stands for China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation, is China’s largest food processor, manufacturer and trader and is part state-owned.

Last year, after acquiring grain business Nidera, it rebranded it under the global company name. The firm, which also has regional offices at Wrexham and York, operates the Grain Terminal at the Port of Ipswich, which can handle up to 800,000 tonnes of grain annually, and also runs a growing fertiliser operation.

COFCO UK managing director Mark Dordery said over the last 10 years the UK business, which has a turnover of £300m and employs 120 staff, has grown organically as well as through a number of strategic acquisitions, including Yorkshire merchant J Dawson, Eye-based seed business Grainseed and the grain trading division of Liverpool-based Criddle & Co.

COFCO UK's headquarters at Ipswich Picture: TOM BARKERCOFCO UK's headquarters at Ipswich Picture: TOM BARKER

“To support our future growth plans, the net equity of the business has been raised by a further £1.2m and is now approaching the £14m mark,” he said. “This represents a doubling of our net worth over the last decade with the result that COFCO now has one of the strongest balance sheets of any company in the UK merchanting sector.”

The additional equity contribution, which has been provided by COFCO Group, will be used to fund the purchase of fixed assets including further business acquisitions in line with the company’s wider global strategy, he said.

“In 2050 there will be over 9bn people on earth making the question of how we sustainably feed such a growing population particularly urgent. As a company, COFCO is 100% focused on building a world-class global agribusiness committed to providing the food the world needs in a responsible way.”

The UK expansion plans showed its commitment to being a leader in combinable crop supply chains and a reliable partner to UK farmers, and contrasted with considerable consolidation across the sector, he added.

A COFCO UK liveried lorry Picture: TOM BARKERA COFCO UK liveried lorry Picture: TOM BARKER

“We face a challenging environment with industry margins under pressure in the face of high levels of supply. However, I believe COFCO’s strategy will allow it to navigate these sector-wide issues and build a resilient and enduring business, forming strong direct and mutually-beneficial partnerships with producers and consumers alike.

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