Chinese agribusiness giant COFCO International announced plans to double its grain purchases in Black Sea-producing regions as part of an initiative to increase its reach in grains and soyabeans procurement, the Financial Times (FT) reported on 26 March.

COFCO chairman Jingtao Chi said in Lausanne, Switzerland, that the company planned to double the volume of grain it sourced from Ukraine and Russia this year compared to last year, as part of the company’s aims to serve markets beyond China.

Additionally, this move would help COFCO reach its goal of sourcing more than 60M tonnes of grains and oilseeds annually by 2022, from its current 40M tonnes, the FT wrote.

“Our new ports in the Black Sea region primarily serve exports to western Europe,” said Chi.

COFCO – the China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation – is the overseas agriculture business platform for COFCO Corporation, China’s largest food and agriculture company. It sources, stores, handles, processes, trades and transports grains, oilseeds, cotton and coffee around the world.

FT wrote that COFCO’s early interest in becoming an international trader to rival the ABCD traders – ADM, Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus – were initially greeted with skepticism as it struggled to integrate its 2017 acquisitions of Dutch grain trader Nidera and the agricultural unit of the Noble Group.

However, the Chinese agribusiness was progressing in building operations outside of China, with just 20-30% of the 106M tonnes of grains and oilseeds it moved last year going to buyers in China, the FT said.