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Posco to build joint venture with US grain company

Sept. 26, 2023 - 11:22 By Song Jung-hyun
Posco International Vice Chairman and CEO Jeong Tak (left) poses for a photo with Kirk Aubry, CEO and president of Savage Companies, the parent of Bartlett and Co., during the signing ceremony for their joint venture framework agreement, in Kansas City, Missouri, on Monday. (Posco International)

Posco International said Tuesday that it inked a preliminary joint venture agreement with US grain company Bartlett and Co., in a move to enhance its global food supply network.

The agreement was signed in Kansas City, US, on Monday with top executives including Posco International Vice Chairman and CEO Jeong Tak, and Bob Knief, CEO of Bartlett and Co., in attendance.

The US company owns some 15 grain terminals through which it supplies major grains including corn, wheat and soybeans to the domestic market and Mexico. It trades approximately 10 million metric tons annually while operating one of the leading milling facilities in the US.

Under the agreement, the two companies plan to establish a joint venture for grain supply and soybean processing and find new export markets among others.

Posco will also invest in Bartlett's soybean processing unit under construction in the US.

The US is one of the top global grain producers with an annual output of 550 million tons, exporting 140 million tons of it worldwide.

By setting up a food value chain in the US, Posco seeks to build a supply system that can trade 5 million tons of grain a year by 2030 and export US grain.

Posco International currently supplies an annual volume of 8 million tons of grain, about 10 times the volume it had traded in 2015 when the company made a foray into the food business.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's data, Korea's grain self-sufficiency rate logged 19.3 percent in 2020, placing it at the bottom of the 38 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“Currently, South Korea is heavily dependent on imports for major grains excluding rice," an official from Posco International stated.

"By expanding overseas investment and securing our global grain supply chain, we seek to contribute to the national food security and leap forward as a global top 10 food company.”