"These trading giants have remained shadowy in European perception, despite their colossal footprint. Cargill, the largest privately owned corporation in the world in most years, was said in testimony to the US senate in 1999 to control 45% of global grain trade, including 42% of US corn exports, a third of all soya bean exports and about 20% of wheat exports. It is also the world's largest crusher of oilseeds such as soya and rapeseed. Since it is a private company and not obliged to publish detailed accounts, more recent and accurate share figures are hard to come by. It declines to comment on its market shares, but it has, if anything, consolidated its position since then, although its areas of concentration shift. Its revenues in 2007 were $88bn. Most of us eat its products in some form every day, yet many of us have never heard of it. Nor had I before I started writing about the politics of food, but since then it has been hard not to stumble across its operations in every country whenever I visit a food factory, industrial farm or fast food or supermarket supplier."
From Eat Your Heart Out: Why the Food Business Is Bad for the Planet and Your Health, by Felicity Lawrence, to be published by Penguin on June 26. (Thanks Rania)