Our company began in 1851 when Léopold Louis-Dreyfus, the 16-year-old son of a farmer from Sierentz in Alsace, made his first sale of grain. He purchased wheat from local farmers in Alsace and transported it to Basel in Switzerland, 8 miles away. Seven years later he left Basel for Berne and extended the scope of his activities, buying grain products in Hungary and Romania.
In the early 1860s transatlantic cable enabled faster, more effective communication between suppliers and customers, and wheat markets became better connected through improved transportation systems. Our company established a network of offices in Germany and France.
The Louis Dreyfus headquarters transferred to Zurich and the business quickly became an international trading operation. We bought grain in the Danube basin and in Russia to meet increasing demand from industrialized cities in Western Europe.
After the Franco-Prussian War, the Treaty of Frankfurt ceded French Alsace to Germany. Léopold Louis-Dreyfus chose French nationality and established his official residence in Marseille. In 1875 he moved the company’s international headquarters to Paris.
With authorization in place from the Liverpool Corn Trade Association, our Group began trading futures.
By the turn of the century, the company had offices throughout Europe, North and South America, South Africa, India, Indo-China, China, Australia and Russia.
We established Banque Louis-Dreyfus in 1905 to facilitate our company’s financial operations in grain markets.
We opened an office in Duluth, Minnesota, US and durum wheat exports began.
Our first office in Australia opened in Melbourne.
We moved our head office to New York and became a member of the New York Produce Exchange. This enabled involvement in grain export and import transactions.
The two sons of Léopold Louis-Dreyfus, Louis (1867-1940) and Charles (1870-1929), succeeded their father and expanded the business further into North America, South America and Russia.
Louis Dreyfus participated in a number of programs initiated by the US Food Administration and shipped large quantities of grain under the Belgium Relief Program, an effort directed by Herbert Hoover.
We began trading with and shipping grain in South Africa.
By now the company was well established in Argentina with agents buying corn, wheat, barley and oats for export.
We began buying and exporting Canadian grains and oilseeds to worldwide customers.
With the death of Léopold’s son, Louis, the founder’s three grandsons, Jean (1908-2001), François (1909-1958) and Pierre (1908-2011) assumed control of the company.
This year marked almost four decades of activity in Brazil. The Louis Dreyfus Group consolidated its presence with the acquisition of Comércio e Industrias Brasileiras Coinbra SA.
By the end of World War II, the main trading offices of the Louis Dreyfus Group were in New York City, Chicago, Winnipeg, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Saigon, Johannesburg, Shanghai, Bombay and Melbourne.
GENERAL LAGOS, ONE OF THE WORLD'S MOST ADVANCED OILSEED CRUSHING PLANTS
Gérard Louis-Dreyfus became Chairman of the company. He took trading activities in a different direction to capitalize on arbitrage opportunities in a variety of commodity markets. This included government bonds, rice, cotton and natural gas.
During 1970s and 1980s we extended our direct involvement in agricultural activities to cotton, sugar, citrus and coffee.
Throughout the 1990s we expanded our origination and marketing activities. Citrus and oilseeds processing became part of our business.
The General Lagos soybean crushing plant and port facility opened in Argentina. It quickly became one of the largest and most efficient plants in the world.
We began construction of a network of 10 grain elevators across the Canadian prairies.
Between 2000 and 2005 the Group purchased sugar production operations in Brazil.
A new vision for the company was set out by Robert Louis-Dreyfus, great grandson of our founder. Louis Dreyfus Commodities was created and structured as a matrix of Regions and Platforms (business lines). We embarked on our asset-based strategy.
Timbues, our soybean processing plant and port facility, opened in Argentina. Construction began on Claypool, a soybean processing plant, in Indiana, US.
Louis Dreyfus Commodities began trading non-ferrous metals and raw materials.
We expanded our product lines to include Fertilizers and Dairy. Vietnam, Colombia and Ethiopia became new markets for the business. We also increased our assets with the purchase of 4 sugar mills in Brazil and Bazhou, an oilseed crushing plant in China.
Our net sales doubled compared to 2006, reaching over US$35 billion. We set up operations in Dubai dedicated to serving the Middle East and Africa. Our activities in Asia expanded with the acquisitions of an edible-oil refinery in India and a stake in an Indonesian palm oil plantation company. Investment was made in Brazilian sugarcane processing facilities and plantations.
RAPESEED CRUSHING PLANT, WITTENBERG
Net sales reached US$34 billion and fixed assets were US$5.5 billion. The number of employees we had at peak season reached approximately 34,000 and we had offices in more than 55 countries. A rapeseed crushing plant was acquired in Wittenberg, Germany, and Biosev was created through the merger of our sugarcane operations with those of Santelisa Vale in Brazil.
Excellent financial performance was achieved once more, confirming the benefits of our diversification and asset-based strategy. The strategy was furthered by entry into the apple juice concentrate market in China, and the acquisition of cotton assets and investment in logistics in Indonesia and Argentina. In addition, during this year we became a signatory to the UN Global Compact.
In addition to achieving record net sales approaching US$60 billion, we set the path for our business in the future with an ambitious US$7 billion investment plan. Our Fertilizers Platform expanded massively with the acquisitions of Macrofertil and SCPA Sivex International. We also made major investments around crucial logistic bottlenecks, giving us access to ports in several key geographies and the ability to operate independently of choking points.
IMPERIAL SUGAR COMPANY
We pursued an ambitious capital expenditure and improvement strategy, with multiple investments throughout the year.
We acquired Imperial Sugar, a US-listed company, which further expanded our industrial base, added a new consumer product to our sugar offering and reinforced our presence in North America.
We expanded our Dairy portfolio with the acquisition of Ecoval, a leading international dairy trading company. Our activities now include a full range of milk-related products.
The Group established new joint ventures in cotton (Australia), rice (South Africa) and grains (Ukraine).
2013 saw the issuance of a €400m and a €500m Eurobond, each listed on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange.
We unveiled a state of the art grain and oilseed export elevator at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge, Louisiana, US following construction, expansion and upgrades to the facility.
We acquired Kowalski Alimentos S.A., one of Brazil’s largest corn milling operators, and integrated it into the Group.
We purchased the shares of Ilomar Holdings N.V. Group, a leading commodities supply chain company based in Belgium.
We continued the development of the North American grains and oilseeds origination network with a number of investments in interior logistics along the Mississippi River.
The Group is now twice as large as it was in 2009 (by net sales).
Louis Dreyfus Company is a leading merchant and processor of agricultural goods, leveraging its global reach and extensive asset network to deliver for its customers around the world - safely, responsibly and reliably. Today we help to feed and clothe some 500 million people, originating, processing and transporting approximately 81 million tons of commodities annually.