US food giant Cargill today (18 August) insisted it had seen the second-best year in its history despite seeing a slump in fourth-quarter earnings.

The group’s net income tumbled by 69% to US$1.05bn during the three months to the end of May, driving down annual profits by 16% to $3.33bn. Annual sales fell 3% to $116.6bn.

Chairman and CEO Greg Page said the last 12 months had been “a tale of two halves”.

He said: “Cargill posted record results through November. In the second half, earnings slowed considerably as the world economy contracted for the first time in six decades.”

However, he added: “In the end, the net effect was the second-best year in our company’s history.”

Cargill said earnings from food ingredients and applications, as well as agriculture services, rose during the fourth quarter thanks to cost cuts and moves to develop more “value-adding” products. The divisions, however, posted lower profits for the full year.