The US-based international agribusiness and food group Bunge Ltd has announced that it is to acquire an integrated soybean crushing and refining plant in the coastal city of Nanjing in the Jiangsu Province of China, from Dalian Huanong Group Ltd.

The Nanjing plant will be Bunge's second in China. The company said the new facility would provide a direct link with customers in the growing soybean meal and oil sectors in both Jiangsu and Anhui provinces, as well as other Yangtze River regions. The deal is expected to be completed during the first half of 2006.

"Purchasing the Nanjing plant is an ideal second step for Bunge in China," said Bunge's regional general manager - Asia, Christopher White. "It is an efficient facility that is well-located in a valuable and expanding market. We foresee good synergies with Bunge's existing joint venture in Rizhao, and expect to be able to service a broader and deeper customer base in the Chinese animal feed and meat production industries. We look forward to developing our business in Jiangsu, Anhui and the Yangtze River region and continuing the good cooperation we have established with the Port of Nanjing and Nanjing Municipality."

The plant, built in 2004, has a daily crushing capacity of 2,000 metric tons and can refine up to 300 metric tons per day. According to USDA data, China's soybean meal consumption has risen at a compound annual rate of more than 13% since 1999, driven by the rapid development of the country's meat and feed industries.

The deal further enhances Bunge's global spread. The company, which is based in White Plains, New York, already has operations in some 32 countries and is the world's leading oilseed processor and seller of bottled vegetable oils to consumers.