Farm heavyweights reveal expansion plan

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian

Agribusiness giants Bunge and Louis Dreyfus have revealed details of their expansion and operational plans for WA amid unprecedented interest in the local grains industry.

Bunge announced yesterday it was offering contracts for growers to store grain from this harvest on-farm and deliver direct to its Bunbury port facilities.

And LD said the purchase of the Ravensdown fertiliser business in WA represented a huge growth opportunity and gave a strong indication it planned to create an integrated supply chain.

The developments came after the CBH board agreed last week to offer growers a loyalty rebate using income from the marketing and trading division's strong performance in 2012-13.

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The Bunge move confirms it is on target to start bulk exports from Bunbury mid-next year based on an on-farm storage and road freight system which operates independently of CBH.

Bunge Australia general manager Chris Aucote said the company hoped to export 200,000-300,000 tonnes next year after finishing work at Bunbury Port as part of an investment of up to $40 million in the WA industry.

It is offering contracts for wheat and barley stored on-farm and delivered direct to Bunbury.

Mr Aucote did not reveal details of the pricing structure but said it was a "very competitive" alternative for growers. It also created an opportunity to back-freight products such as fertiliser and lime.

Most of the grain is expected to come from farms in districts around Wagin, with most trucks using Coalfields Road to access Bunbury.

Bunge has also secured shipping slots at the CBH grain terminals in Kwinana and Geraldton for this harvest.

LD Commodities Australia chief executive Robert Green flagged expanding the Ravens- down fertiliser business to include other farm inputs, such as chemicals and seed supplies.

"Dreyfus are certainty active in the grain market in Australia and I think if we could go to Australian farmers with other things to offer, in addition to buying grain or offering a competitive price for grain, there are some advantages in that," Mr Green said.

He said it was too soon to speculate about the potential to export grain from the berth and infrastructure leased by Ravens- down at Kwinana.

CBH said it would offer a rebate of $1 a tonne for every tonne sold to it in the year to yesterday.

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