Ecom, sugar rival join forces as industry woes deepen

(Reuters) By Chris Prentice – Global agricultural merchant Ecom Agroindustrial Corp and its smaller U.S. rival V&A Commodity Traders Inc have joined forces to create a medium-sized sugar merchant, the latest deal to transform the struggling sweetener market. V&A Trading, owned by Seacor Holdings, said on Wednesday the companies have agreed to merge their sugar operations to form a new company called VA&E Trading UK LLP, with offices in New York, London and Sao Paulo. The company will be up against much bigger rivals, like Alvean, the joint venture between Cargill Inc and Brazil‘s Copersucar, and ED&F Man, in the fiercely competitive 180-million-tonne market. After five years of excess global sugar supplies, profit margins in the sector have shrunk, with raw prices languishing close to or below production costs for many mills. Combining Ecom’s strength in sourcing from cane farmers in top grower Brazil was an “excellent fit” with V&A’s access to end users in Africa and the Americas, Carter King, chief executive officer of V&A and joint boss of the new company, said in an interview. “Together we have this more seamless operation to extend our reach,” he said, noting that the new business will have about 30 employees. King … continue reading

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