Sustaining Competitive Advantage: Cargill as a Case Study

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Sustaining Competitive Advantage: Cargill as a Case Study

Introduction

Cargill is an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services, with considerable economic influence around the world. The company was founded in Minnesota, U.S.A. in 1865, and currently employs 160,000 people in 68 countries, Cargill (2009) <http://www.cargill.com/>. Cargill is the United States’ largest privately held (85% of shares held by Cargill and MacMillan families) corporation in terms of revenue, with a range of business activities including processing, purchasing, distributing grains and other agricultural products. Other business venture include manufacturing, selling livestock feeds and ingredients for processed foods and pharmaceuticals, as well as operating a large financial arm that manages financial risks.

In 2009 fiscal year, Cargill’s net earnings were $3.33 billion, down 16 percent from 2008. Revenues also decreased 3 percent to $116.6 billion from $120.4 billion. Cash flow from operations equaled $6.7 billion (See Table 1:1). Among the company’s five business segments, earnings in origination and processing were moderately below 2008 record high. Food ingredients and applications declined moderately too, and agriculture services finished just under 2008 earnings level. Cargill’s operations in China, which started in the 1970s, include Cargill Agricultural Services, Cargill Supply Chain, Cargill Food Ingredients and Systems, Cargill Animal Protein, Cargill Financial Services, Transportation and Industrial Trading.

Cargill’s localisation policies is exemplified in its business operations in China and this five part paper would examine and evaluates the strategy being followed by Cargill and determine its capacity in delivering sustainable competitive advantage. The first section evaluates Cargill’s strategic processes and considered its position within the Chinese food market. The second section explores Cargill’s competitive environment and determined that the organisation’s strategy would achieve competitive advantage over its competitors. The third section looked at Cargill’s main resources and competences that contributed to its corporate strategy, while the fourth section considered the organisations dynamic capabilities that would help it sustain its competitive advantage, and section five concludes the essay.

Table 1:1 Cargill Financial Highlights 2009 – 2005| (in millions)| | | | | | | | |
Dollars in Millions| 2009| 2008| 2007| 2006| 2005|
Sales & other revenues| 116,579| 120,439| 88,266| 75,208| 71,066| Net earnings| 3,334| 3,951| 2,343| 1,537| 2,103|
Net earnings, excluding special items 1| 3,334| 3,951| 2,343| 1,727| 1,525| Current assets| 36,615| 40,645| 29,048| 23,263| 27,848| Net property & other assets| 26,353| 28,360| 26,747| 24,074| 20,275| Total assets| 62,968| 69,005| 55,795| 47,337| 48,123| Current liabilities| 20,808| 27,528| 22,301| 17,718| 21,323| Net worth| 20,561| 19,557| 16,249| 13,870| 12,252|

1 Excludes in fiscal 2006 a noncash charge related to a restructuring charge recorded by The Mosaic Company, in which Cargill is the majority shareholder. Excludes in fiscal 2005 noncash net gain related to the formation of Mosaic in that year.| | |
Source: http://www.cargill.com/financial/financial.htm

1. Evaluation of Cargill’s strategic process and positioning in Chinese Food Market Seymour (1963 p.63) put it that there are “Six criteria provide a basis for determining whether a strategy is right for a company. These are: internal consistency, consistency with the environment, appropriateness in the light of available resources, satisfactory degree of risk, appropriate time...
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