Cargill has said that it remains confident in its prospects, despite a 56% drop in full-year profits.

For the 12 months to the end of May, Cargill saw profits slide to US$1.17bn. Fourth-quarter profits plunged by 82% to $404m, marking the firm’s worst quartely profits performance in two decades as volatile commodity markets and a downturn in the North American beef sector hit earnings.

However, Cargill’s full-year net sales increased by 12% on the previous 12 months, to $133.9bn, despite a 2% dip in sales in the final three months of the year.

“Cargill’s earnings performance was not up to our expectations, though with notable exceptions,” said CEO and chairman Greg Page. “Our 26-unit food ingredients group delivered a third consecutive year of record earnings. One-third of our businesses exceeded last year’s results, and nine achieved record profits.”

The firm said that it cut expenses during the year by $400m, at the same time as investing a record $4bn in acquisitions, notably animal nutrition firm Provimi, as well as joint ventures and new facilities.

“We are confident about Cargill’s ability to grow profitably,” said Page.

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