US agribusiness Bartlett and South Korean food commodity trading company POSCO International are considering entering a joint venture in soyabean processing and exports, the companies announced on 26 September.

Bartlett, which is part of global supply chain infrastructure and solutions provider Savage, said a joint venture between the two companies would combine its North American agriculture supply chain and operational capabilities with POSCO’s global agri network and market experience to drive growth and new business opportunities.

A joint venture would also reflect the companies’ shared approach to sustainability and supporting growing international markets for grain and renewable transportation fuels, according to Bartlett.

“With 116 years of experience sourcing, transporting and processing grain for customers across North America, and our soyabean crushing facility in Southeast Kansas coming online in 2024, we’re excited to explore this opportunity with POSCO to expand our business into global markets,” Bartlett president Bob Knief said on 26 September.

Partnering with Bartlett would strengthen POSCO’s North American supply chain connections and market position, according to POSCO vice chairman and CEO Jeong Tak.

As part of the agreement, POSCO said it planned to invest in a soyabean processing business currently under construction in Bartlett within the year, while jointly establishing and operating a joint venture with Bartlett to supply a source of raw grain.

Bartlett, which joined the Savage group of companies in 2018, is focused on the acquisition, storage, transportation, processing and merchandising of grain. A leading US exporter of grain to Mexico, Bartlett supplies all classes of wheat, food-grade corn and soyabeans to millers and processors.

The company is currently building a soyabean crushing plant near Cherryvale, Kansas which, once operational, will handle up to 45M bushels/year of soyabeans to crush into soyabean meal and refined soyabean oil.

Since entering the grain trading market in 2015, POSCO has become one of South Korea’s leading food commodity trading companies, handling 8M tonnes/year of foodstuffs.

In addition to its involvement with Bartlett in the USA, POSCO said it was also looking to develop overseas food businesses to expand.

In Ukraine, a value chain based on grain terminals would be specified in line with post-war reconstruction, and a triangular food belt connecting the Black Sea, North America and Oceania would be completed by securing large-scale grain cultivation areas in Australia, the company said.

“Korea’s grain self-sufficiency rate last year was only 19%, and we are dependent on imports for most of the major grains except rice,” a POSCO official said. “We are working to secure an overseas grain supply chain by increasing grain procurement capacity and investing in overseas assets.”

POSCO is also involved in the energy and steel industries and is expanding into the bio-chemistry and bio-medicine sectors.