Global agribusiness giant Bunge has reported net income of US$551M in the final quarter of 2020 – compared with a loss in the same period of 2019 – driven by strong vegetable oil demand and higher oilseed crush margins, the company announced on 10 February.

“Our performance in 2020 was exceptional, reflecting the earnings strength of our platform,” Bunge CEO Greg Heckman said.

“Looking ahead, we expect the favourable market environment to continue into 2021, reflecting strong and growing demand, as well as tight supplies.”

Total annual volume turnover in agribusiness reached 142.9M tonnes, including 35.7M tonnes in the final quarter.

Adjusted operating profit in its oilseeds segment for the quarter had increased from US$170M in the same period in 2019 to US$275M, Bunge said, due to higher results in oilseeds processing.

In the company’s edible oil sector, operating profit for the final quarter jumped from US$75M in 2019 to US$113M, driven by higher margins in Brazil as a result of tight supply and strong demand.

“Higher results in North America were largely due to increased demand from the renewable diesel sector,” Bunge said.

Results were also higher in Asia, driven by lower costs, while earnings in Europe declined mainly due to lower margins.

Bunge’s grain segment reported an adjusted operating profit of US$234M, up from US$159M during the final quarter of 2019, driven by strong export demand and benefits from operations in North America.

However, South American earnings decreased due to farmers making the bulk of sales earlier in the year.

Bunge forecast a full-year 2021 adjusted earnings per share of at least US$6/share, with lower earnings in its agribusiness sector, “driven by lower contributions from oilseed processing and origination, particularly in Brazil.”

“While we are not forecasting the same unique environment or magnitude of opportunities that we captured during 2020, we do see some a potential upside to our outlook resulting from strong demand and tight commodity supplies,” Bunge said.

“In edible oils, full-year results are expected to be comparable to last year. Higher results expected in our North American business, driven by a recovery in food service and increased renewable diesel demand, will be offset by expected lower results in our consumer business in Brazil.”