Criticism is mounting against one of the world’s most well-recognized commodities trading companies after Glencore declared the global drought and food crisis is a “good” business opportunity.
On a recent conference call the company’s Director of Agricultural Products said: “In terms of the outlook for the balance of the year, the environment is a good one. High prices, lots of volatility, a lot of dislocation, tightness, a lot of arbitrage opportunities.” Chris Mahoney added: “We will be able to provide the world with solutions… and that should also be good for Glencore.” The United Nations responded quickly: The senior economist of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, Concepcion Calpe, told media: “Private companies like Glencore are playing a game that will make them enormous profits.” Oxfam chimed in too, attacking “Glencore’s exploitation of volatile world food prices,” as the Independent writes. Jodie Thorpe, from the aid agency’s Grow Campaign, said: “Glencore’s comment that ‘high prices and lots of volatility and dislocation’ was ‘good’ gives us a rare glimpse into the little-known world of companies that dominate the global food system.” Forbes, though, supports Glencore’s statement. Food needs to be transported to areas affected by droughts, and “to do this we would need an organisation or two who knows how to identify where that surplus and moveable food is. Then know how to purchase it, transport it to port, hire a ship or two to carry it, unload it, then get it to those places where there isn’t any food. This is known generally as feeding people: you know, the cure for people having no food is to get food to them?” The answer is commodity traders, Forbes writes. “These are exactly the people who know how to find, transport, then distribute (and importantly finance all of them) food around the world. In fact, these are the very people who do do that, year in and year out. They’re the very people who make the entire international food network operate, alleviating famine in areas of food shortage by shipping food surpluses from other areas to them.” Forbes concludes, “People who ship food around the world are the solution to localised food shortages, not the cause of them.”