The 12 largest agricultural companies by revenue in the world have a large impact on global food production and have dominant positions in all industries that are involved in the food production process, from planting seeds distribution, to using fertilizers and pesticides. Because these companies have a lot of resources, manpower and billions of dollars in investor capital, they squeeze out smaller farmers in their race for profits and can sometimes pursue unsustainable practices in the face of fierce competition.
The global population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, which suggests that food production will have to be increased by at least 50%. In turn, this could result in the need for more land, which could lead to further deforestation and the depletion of other resources like water and soil.
At the same time, the largest agricultural companies are among the few that can face these challenges and adapt to the changes in the agricultural sector. As people become more concentrated around urban areas, this creates a lack of human capital to be employed in farming and other agricultural activities. Big agricultural companies can develop technologies that would allow farms to continue their operations with less human involvement through automation. Many agricultural equipment companies like Deere & Company (NYSE:DE) and CNH Industrial NV (NYSE:CNHI) have been investing heavily in such technology in the last couple of years, developing tractors, combines, and harvesters that can operate on a semi-autonomous basis, with the goal to develop equipment that would be capable of performing all tasks on its own.
At the same time, the need for more food could lead to more land being used for production, which could in turn cause deforestation. Deforestation can have devastating effects on the ecosystem, causing soil erosion, increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases, leading to the extinction of many species of plants and animals, etc. Some of the largest agricultural companies by revenue in the world that are engaged in production of seeds and crop protection, such as Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON), should focus on technologies that will allow higher crop yields on the same amount of land, through the use of better seed cultures and better chemicals and pesticides.
Given the major challenges in global food production, more and more governments are imposing regulations in order to tackle them. Middle-income countries, faced with populations that are becoming more wealthy, are investing heavily in food production, while the investments from more developed countries are slowing down. A big part of the investment in food production represents investment in research and development. According to Nature.com, in 2011, 5% of global investment in R&D was directed towards agriculture and food production, which represented roughly $69 billion, with 55% of that figure being spent in high-income countries and 43% in middle-income countries. At the same time, in high-income countries, over 52% of the research on crop breeding, fertilizers, and food technology was done by the private sector, mainly by the largest agricultural companies.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the 12 largest agricultural companies by revenue in the world. To compile this list, we selected some of the largest companies from various industries within the agricultural sector, including farming, processing, agricultural equipment, chemicals, and seeds. We compared the revenue that these companies, some of which are also among the 11 biggest agricultural companies in the world, generated in their latest fiscal years (for companies that are engaged in other segments aside from agriculture, only the numbers for their agricultural segments were used) and sorted them accordingly.
12. Adecoagro SA (NYSE:AGRO)
Revenue: $995 million
Adecoagro SA (NYSE:AGRO) is a large agroindustrial company which owns farmland and manufacturing facilities in South America. The company’s products include rice, sugar, milk, sunflower, corn, wheat, soybean, ethanol, and bioelectricity.
11. Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc (NYSE:FDP)
Revenue: $4.01 billion
Next on our list of largest agricultural companies by revenue in the world is Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc (NYSE:FDP), which is engaged in the production, marketing and distribution of fresh and freshly-cut fruit and vegetables, as well as prepared fruit, vegetables, juices, snacks, and desserts. Fresh Del Monte Produce was once affiliated with food processing company Del Monte Foods and still continues to market pineapples, bananas, and other products under the Del Monte label under a licensing agreement with Del Monte Foods. The Del Monte Gold pineapple is one of Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc (NYSE:FDP)’s most popular products.
Revenue: $6.55 billion
BASF is a German chemical company that supplies many industries. One of the largest chemical companies in the world, BASF has a big agricultural division that provides fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, boscalid, and fipronil, as well as seed treatment products. BASF’s agricultural business also includes researching nutrigenomics, a branch of science that studies the effect of food and nutrients on genes, which is considered to be a very promising technology that would allow obesity to be combated and even aid oncology in cancer treatment.
9. CNH Industrial NV (NYSE:CNHI)
Revenue: $10.12 billion
CNH Industrial NV (NYSE:CNHI) makes a variety of equipment, including tractors and other agricultural equipment, construction equipment, as well as commercial vehicles, trucks, buses and specialty vehicles (under the Iveco name). Its agricultural equipment is sold under the Case and New Holland brands.
8. Bayer AG
Revenue: $11.66 billion
Bayer is a German multinational company that is engaged in a number of businesses, such as pharmaceutical, life sciences, and chemical. It produces consumer healthcare products and pharmaceuticals (one of its best known products is aspirin), veterinary drugs, polymers, and has a large division involved in the production of agricultural chemicals. Bayer AG is currently in the process of acquiring Monsanto to merge it with its CropScience division.
7. Syngenta AG (ADR) (NYSE:SYT)
Revenue: $12.79 billion
Swiss-based Syngenta AG (ADR) (NYSE:SYT) is another large agribusiness that produces chemicals and seeds and ranks as one of largest agricultural companies by revenue in the world. Its chemical division produces herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and seed treatments. Syngenta AG (ADR) (NYSE:SYT)’s seed business produces and sells seeds that are developed using genetics and technology and cover commercial seed crops like corn, oilseeds, cereals, sugar beet, and vegetables. Syngenta AG (ADR) (NYSE:SYT) also has a lawn and garden division, although it generates much smaller sales compared to its other two segments.
6. Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON)
Revenue: $13.50 billion
Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON) provides a variety of agricultural products for farmers such as seeds, biotechnology trait products, and herbicides. It has two segments: seeds and genomics, and agricultural productivity, of which the former amasses the largest share of the company’s total sales ($9.99 billion).
5. Agrium Inc. (USA) (NYSE:AGU)
Revenue: $13.67 billion
Agrium Inc. (USA) (NYSE:AGU) is a supplier of agricultural products and services in North America, South America, and Australia, and one of the largest agricultural companies by revenue in the world. The Canada-based company is also a wholesale producer of agricultural nutrients and fertilizers, such as nitrogen, phosphate, potash, and sulphur-based fertilizers. The company also operates agricultural centers in the U.S, Canada, South America and Australia, where it provides seed and crop protection products and nutrients.
4. DowDuPont Inc (NYSE:DWDP)
Revenue: $15.69 billion
DowDuPont Inc (NYSE:DWDP)’s revenue was compiled by summing up the 2016 revenue of Dow Chemical Company’s and E I Du Pont De Nemours’ agricultural segments, since both companies have recently merged and are about to split into three public companies, one of which will solely be involved in agricultural products like crop protection and seed/plant biotechnology products.
3. Deere & Company (NYSE:DE)
Revenue: $18.49 billion
Deere & Company (NYSE:DE) is a Fortune 500 company that manufactures a wide range of agricultural equipment, including tractors, harvesters, combines, cotton pickers, and sugarcane harvesters. It also makes construction and forestry equipment, as well as diesel engines and lawn mowers. Agriculture and turf is Deere & Company (NYSE:DE)’s highest-revenue segment, accounting for 70% of total sales.
2. Archer Daniels Midland Company (NYSE:ADM)
Revenue: $62.35 billion
Archer Daniels Midland Company (NYSE:ADM) is one of the world’s largest processors of oilseeds, corn, wheat and other agricultural products. In addition, the company is engaged in the production of protein meal, vegetable oil, corn sweetners, biodiesel, flour, and ethanol. It also owns grain elevators and a transportation network that is uses to store and transport raw materials and processed products.
Revenue: $107.20 billion
Cargill is the largest private company in the U.S in terms of revenue and tops the list of the 12 largest agricultural companies by revenue in the world. It specializes in trading, purchasing and distributing grain and other agricultural products. The company, which is based in Minnetonka, Minnesota has a variety of operations, including trading in energy, steel and transport. Cargill’s agricultural business involves the raising of livestock, producing feed, and food ingredients. It also has a large financial services firm that hedges its risks in the commodities markets. Cargill is a family-owned company and is responsible for 22% of the U.S domestic meat market and 25% of U.S grain exports.
These are the 12 largest agricultural companies by revenue in the world. Most of the companies on this list are engaged in either the chemical or equipment industries, while companies that are involved in producing agricultural products have lower revenue, which can be explained by lower crop prices.