This research report provides an analysis of the role and impacts of the world‟s largest commodity traders on the modern food system.
This report is composed of two parts. The first introduces the four big commodity traders – Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Bunge, Cargill, and Louis Dreyfus – which are the focus of this study. Collectively, these trading companies are often referred to as „the ABCD companies‟ because of the coincidence of their initials. Part 2 then looks at these traders in relation to a number of the global issues pressing on agriculture: the „financialization‟ of both commodity trade and agricultural production; the emergence of global competitors to the ABCDs, in particular from Asia; and some of the implications of large-scale industrial biofuels, a sector in which the ABCDs are closely involved. It includes a discussion of how smallholders in developing countries are affected by some of these changes, and highlights some development policy implications, given the importance of the ABCDs in shaping the world of food and agriculture.