Thursday, August 18, 2011

Big Deals Come in Many Sizes

by Scott Hall
KAXE has been covering the local food scene here in northern Minnesota for almost four and a half years now.  On Wednesday mornings, Maggie Montgomery talks to local farmers about their products, innovations and marketing.  Something big is growing here. Originally we thought the series would last about six months, but we met so many amazing people with a passion for farming and increasing our ability to bring fresh and locally produced foods to our tables that the series goes on. 

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported this week that the Minnesota-based, multi-national food company, Cargill, just paid 2.17 billion dollars for Provini, another international food business in the Netherlands.  Provini produces feed products for livestock producers in 26 countries. Cargill wants a bigger share of the animal feed business because the demand for meat is growing in Eastern Europe and Asia. Cargill employs over 140,000 people, about ten thousand in their animal feed businesses alone. A few of Cargill's "smaller" holdings include investments in the Brazilian tomato industry, Australian grain trading, and Indonesian food products.

The local food movement here and elsewhere is tiny compared to these deals. Feeding seven billion people every day is a huge challenge and big business. Population growth and environmental factors add to the challenge.  Businesses like Cargill may be able to adapt to changing conditions.  We are not immune to these worldwide influences, but if some day our health and economy depend in part on a vibrant local food industry, you can hear the people making it happen right now on Wednesday mornings.


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