Who owns Cargill

McDonald's, Aldi, Edeka and Co. are supplied by the "worst company in the world"

“The worst company in the world” - this is the damning verdict of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Mighty Earth in its report on the agricultural company Cargill. According to the report, the global US company is jointly responsible for numerous cases of environmental pollution and human rights violations.

"We know this is a bold claim," writes Mighty Earth, referring to the claim that Cargill is the worst company in the world. “But when it comes to the world's biggest problems - environmental degradation, air and water pollution, global warming, the displacement of indigenous peoples, child labor and global poverty - Cargill is not just last among those fighting it , but drives the problems forward to an extent that puts its direct competitors in the shade. "

Cargill is the largest privately held company in the United States and is 90 percent owned by the family of the same name. The company has been active in Germany since 1955. Even if you've never heard of the Cargill name before, you've probably bought products in the supermarket that the company is involved in in some way or other. Because the US group also supplies supermarket chains such as Aldi, Lidl, Edeka and Co., as reported by "Spiegel". Because, especially with regard to food production, there are hardly any areas in which the company is not involved.

Mighty Earth accuses Cargill of ruthlessness when it comes to environmental protection and human rights

According to the report, for example, the company is the largest producer of ground beef and burger patties in the world - one of Cargill's major customers is McDonald’s. The group grows various grains, oilseeds and cotton on a large scale, is one of the leading suppliers of animal feed and feed additives as well as soy, grows cocoa and produces food additives and chemicals as well as ingredients for cosmetics. The list goes on.

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Mighty Earth's allegations primarily concern the circumstances under which Cargill manufactures its products. The ruthlessness with which the group acts is unprecedented. Cargill use fragile or corrupt political systems in West Africa or Indonesia to extract large amounts of palm oil, cocoa and other raw materials, regardless of the conditions under which they were produced.

The group does not seem to shy away from child and forced labor either. According to the report, Cargill is said to have bought cocoa from plantations in the Ivory Coast where children had to work - with poor pay, beatings and little food, up to 14 hours a day. The children were previously abducted from Mali to be used as workers. The company also procured palm oil from Indonesia, which was produced by forced laborers - including many children - who were abused and held captive.

Polluted environment, food and balance sheets

The clearing of forests and the use of pesticides are also among the allegations with which Mighty Earth confronts the US company. Cargill's actions not only endanger the environment. In Colombia, Cargill is said to have illegally appropriated 52,000 hectares of land.

In Brazil, many indigenous people have lost their habitat due to the clearing of the rainforest for soy plantations. Not to mention the health effects - cancers, miscarriages, and disabilities in newborns are just some of the effects of pesticide and herbicide exposure. The rivers are so polluted that the fish are dying and are no longer an important source of food, according to the Mighty Earth report.

But it's not just the conditions in which Cargill products are manufactured that make consumers shudder. In several cases, the company allegedly sold contaminated meat to fast food chains. In 2001 the company had to recall burger patties in which E. coli bacteria were found. The following year, Cargill withdrew 2.8 million pounds of ground beef from the market for samonella infestation.

"Cargill has the power to protect or destroy"

Cargill may have more power to protect the climate, water, food safety, public health and human rights than any other company in history - or to destroy all of that, the report's authors write. Before the report was published, Mighty Earth gave the US company the chance to comment on the allegations and work for an improvement. However, Cargill did not suggest any credible improvement measures.

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The organization hopes that now some of its largest customers, including Aldi, Edeka, Danone, Nestlé and Unilever, can review their relationships with Cargill and possibly put pressure on them. However, that could be difficult. Apart from the fact that some of the companies mentioned are also repeatedly criticized, Cargill is hardly vulnerable due to its size and competing companies such as the Louis Dreyfuß Group are often not a much better choice.

Since the name Cargill - in contrast to names like Nestlé or Unilever - does not appear on the product packaging in the supermarket, consumers can hardly do anything directly against the company.