The North American operating arm of US agribusiness giant Bunge is to buy the rice milling business of Pacific International Rice Mills, a subsidiary of brewing giant Anheuser-Busch.

The purchase by Bunge North America is expected to close by the end of the year, subject to customary closing conditions, the firm said yesterday (13 December). Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"The purchase of PIRMI's business supports Bunge's strategy of expanding into adjacent value chains, and rice milling is a natural extension for us," said Soren Schroder, president and CEO, Bunge North America. "Bunge is a leader in the corn dry milling industry, and success in the rice milling industry relies on many of the same strengths: commodity origination, efficient milling operations, risk management, logistics and a customer-focused approach to business."

Pacific International Rice Mills produces bulk and packaged milled rice for domestic and export markets. The mill is located in Woodland, California, in the Sacramento rice growing region. The plant currently operates with about 65 employees. Subject to its normal hiring procedures, Bunge said it intends to hire PIRMI's employees.

Bunge has been a supplier to Anheuser-Busch for around 30 years, providing corn products for brewing.

In October, Bunge was in talks over a possible stake in SOS Corporacion Alimentaria, the Spanish food group behind Bertolli and Carbonell olive oils.