Glencore's agricultural products division, in which the group is seeking to sell a minority stake, reported a 39% drop in profits for 2015, Agrimoney reported on 1 March.

The Anglo-Swiss commodity trading and mining giant said it expected to finalise the sale of the minority stake in its April-June quarter, as part of a programme to reduce US$30bn of debt (see OFI News, November/December 2015).

The division reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITA) of US$734M for 2015, a 39% drop year-on-year, on revenues of US$23.15bn, down 10.4%.

A "challenging" environment was reported, attributed to "lower prices, lack of volatility and limited arbitrage opportunities".

A weaker grains harvest undermined results in Canada, a particularly important market for Glencore, which bought grain handler Viterra four years ago.

"Furthermore, 2015 was adversely impacted by the immediate imposition of a punitive wheat export tax in Russia," Glencore said.

In processing, volumes were boosted by the purchases of oilseed crushing plants in Canada and Germany, and 50% of a Brazilian grain handling and port facility.

Glencore said processing profits were hurt by the dent to the biodiesel market from "regulatory changes and lower competing diesel prices", leading to biofuel output dropping by 27% to 556,000 tonnes.

Margins on what was produced were also squeezed by the support to rapeseed prices from a weaker EU harvest last year and "lack of farmer selling".