Soaring food prices push more members of the Cargill family onto the list of the world’s 500 richest people | The super-rich

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A ‘giant jump’ in global food prices sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has helped three members of the super-wealthy Cargill family, which majority owns one of the world’s largest food companies, join the ranks of the 500 richest people in the world.

Siblings James Cargill, Austen Cargill and Marianne Liebmann – all great-grandchildren of William Wallace Cargill, who founded the Cargill company in 1865 – joined the Bloomberg Billionaires list of the 500 richest people alive this week. Each of them has an estimated fortune of $5.4billion (£4.1billion), up a fifth so far this year.

They join Cargill’s other great-grandchildren, Pauline Keinath and Gwendolyn Sontheim Meyer, on the 500 richest list. They each have a fortune of approximately $8.06 billion.

Their fortunes follow that of food giant Cargill, which employs more than 155,000 people in 70 countries and is expected to post record profits this year, topping 2021’s record $5 billion profit.

The UN warned this month that world food prices had hit a record high due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said its food price index rose 12.6% in March from February, “taking a giant leap to a new high. level since its creation in 1990”.

The UN said the war in Ukraine had “spread shocks to markets for basic grains and vegetable oils”. The prices of cereals, vegetable oils and meat have reached unprecedented heights, according to the FAO.

The war disrupted Black Sea exports of crucial commodities from a region that produced more than a quarter of the world’s wheat exports.

The invasion has helped push grain prices up 17% over the past month, with port closures limiting wheat and maize exports from Ukraine. Russian exports have also been hampered by financial and maritime problems.

Global wheat prices climbed 19.7% in March, while maize prices rose 19.1% month-on-month, hitting a record high along with those of barley and sorghum.

Food prices were already rising before Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February, and Cargill chief executive David MacLennan said he expected them to remain high throughout 2022.

Cargill, headquartered in Minnesota, reported a 63% increase in profits last year to nearly $4.93 billion, the biggest in its 157-year history. Revenue rose 17% to $134 billion.

Andrew Speke of the High Pay Center think tank, which campaigns for a fairer society, said the Cargill family’s growing wealth was “a depressing indictment of our current economic model – one that has empowered a tiny minority to get richer and richer despite the longer freeze”. in the standard of living in the modern era and a crisis in the cost of living which threatens to impoverish millions of people”.

He added: “Now more than ever, it is essential that governments take serious action to redistribute wealth from the super-rich to those with low and middle incomes.”

Three other members of the Cargill family – Alexandra Daitch, Sarah MacMillan and Lucy Stitzer – are also billionaires. The extended family controls around 87% of the company and ranks as the 11th richest family in the world, with a collective fortune of around $50 billion.

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Eric Muňoz, Oxfam America’s Senior Policy Advisor for Agriculture, said, “Right now, we are seeing skyrocketing food prices, which are having devastating effects on the most vulnerable communities. Skyrocketing food prices, coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic, are pushing families in countries like Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and South Sudan to breaking point. – Meanwhile, the wealthiest have seen their profits soar.

“We must see urgent action to save lives now and to address the inequalities, the failing food system and the other root causes that are driving this crisis.”

Gemma McGough, a British entrepreneur and founding member of Patriotic Millionaires UK, a group campaigning for the introduction of a wealth tax on the world’s richest people to help close the inequality gap, said the growing wealth of the Cargill family was another example of “the grotesque failure of our global economy”.

She said: “We are in a state of multiple crises, and governments cannot continue to sit idly by as hunger and food poverty rise and the wealth of the privileged few soars.

“It is essential that we rebalance our economies, taxing the wealth of people like me, and investing in systems that can support the millions of families currently unable to feed their children.”

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