CHICAGO — Hurricane Ida may already have come and gone, but the storm’s impact continues to be felt at agribusiness giants ADM and Bunge Ltd. Executives at both companies provided brief updates on operations in the affected areas as part of presentations at the Barclays Global Consumer Staples Conference held Sept. 8-9.
Gregory A. Heckman, chief executive officer of Bunge, said the St. Louis-based company did not suffer any major structural damage at its sites in the region and teams have been working hard to get things cleaned up and make minor repairs to get any affected locations back in shape.
“The big challenge is we are, as everyone, without electricity,” he said. “It originally looked like that might be four or five weeks. And now it looks like that may just be a week or two before we’re back up. So we continue to get good news each day, and lots of folks working hard to get the power restored down there.”
Once power is restored, Bunge will need to test operations and make sure everything is able to come back online safely, Mr. Heckman said. Once online, Bunge will be able to get its river logistics back on track and the company should recover pretty quickly and get flows back to normalization, he said.
Mr. Heckman said the market did show some initial concern not knowing how long some of the key grain handlers would be down.
“There was some business shifted to the Texas Gulf and some business shifted to the Pacific Northwest, and we saw a little bit of buying out of South America, I think, as folks adjusted their pipelines,” he said. “But we weren’t in the busiest time of year here in North America. So folks were able to make some adjustments.
“And then the real thing to watch here long term, of course, will be the trade-off between what capacity was unused in the Gulf versus the programs that were on the books. But whatever the case, I feel really confident in the Bunge team to be able to take advantage of whatever dislocations and take advantage of our global network to serve our customers. So we think it will be a neutral to net positive for us.”
At ADM, there were “various levels of damage” sustained at its facilities due to Hurricane Ida, said Vikram Luthar, head of investor relations and chief financial officer of nutrition.
“Fortunately, our facilities had minimal damage, and we expect our facilities to be back within weeks, not months,” Mr. Luthar said. “So there are clearly some puts and takes from that perspective. We anticipate as a consequence of that volumes to be down, right, in Q4 export volumes because it’s going to take us a while to get back into full capacity. On the other hand, we clearly see, because of that tight export capacity, margins should be strong. So we expect that to be somewhat of a trade-off. On the other hand, as well, on the basis side, we’ve seen basis collapse because that big demand opportunity has also tailed off as a consequence of Ida. So that’s another potential opportunity for our processing business. So there are some puts and takes here, and we’ll have to assess as the facilities come online, what the net impact is going to be.”