SAO PAULO, Jan 15 (Reuters) - French commodities trader Louis Dreyfus Co vaulted ahead to third place in the rankings for Brazil's biggest soy exporters in 2018, locked in a virtual dead heat with China's COFCO, according to annual shipping data. Bunge Ltd continued to top the rankings, while Cargill Inc remained in second place, according to data from shipping company Williams compiled by Reuters. Brazil, the world's largest soybean exporter, shipped a record 84 million tonnes of the oilseeds in 2018 after harvesting its largest crop ever, with most of it going to China. Nearly all local exporters did more business with China, which sought to replace U.S. soy with Brazilian beans, because of its trade dispute with the United States. The final standings confirm that grain handlers, which improved logistics and farmer relationships in Brazil, reaped rewards from the U.S.-Chinese trade war. "The combination of these initiatives enabled us to respond immediately to greater Chinese demand," said Luciano Souza, ADM grains director. A Dreyfus executive said last month that those two factors was their formula for success, helping the company notch 28.6 percent export growth. Increased competition between trading houses is beneficial for soy growers as it brings liquidity to the market, noted Bartolomeu Braz, head of soybean and corn grower group Aprosoja Brasil. Third-ranked Dreyfus exported 10.98 million tonnes of soybeans in 2018, just edging out COFCO, whose shipments totaled 10.96 million tonnes, a 17.8 percent rise from the previous year. The two commodities firms unseated fifth-ranked Japanese general trading firm Marubeni Corp, which ranked third in 2017. Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) ranked sixth, staying ahead of Singapore's Olam International, whose exports rose 225.4 percent increase to 6.65 million tonnes, the data showed. COFCO did not have an immediate comment. Bunge and Cargill declined to comment. Bunge kept its lead after increasing foreign sales of soybeans by 9.2 percent to 17.73 million tonnes, while Cargill raised soybean exports by 1.4 percent in 2018, to 12.15 million tonnes, according to Williams. The market still remains dominated by a handful of multinationals, said producer Elso Pozzobon, who grows soybeans in the town of Sorriso. "If there is competition among them, there will be a benefit passed on to us," Pozzobon said. TRADER 2018 2017 CHANGE BUNGE 17.737.264 16.244.640 +9.19 CARGILL 12.156.755 11.989.733 +1.39 DREYFUS 10.985.868 8.542.959 +28.60 COFCO 10.964.534 9.305.858 +17.82 MARUBENI 9.344.546 9.955.045 -6.13 ADM 8.565.959 7.967.685 +7.51 OLAM 6.649.238 2.043.177 +225.44 Source: Williams (Reporting by José Roberto Gomes Writing by Ana Mano)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.