Participating on the call this morning are Alberto Weisser, Bunge's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; and Drew Burke, Bunge's Chief Financial Officer.
I'll now turn the call over to Alberto.
Good morning, everyone. Before Drew offers details about Bunge's performance in the second quarter and our outlook for the rest of the year, I would like to start by discussing conditions in the agribusiness market. Weather is always an important variable in the agribusiness and food industries, but this year it's particularly significant. Global stocks of corn and soybeans are already tight, and severe drought in the U.S. has lowered expectations for replenished supply this fall and driven commodity futures prices to record levels. As the world adjusts to these developments, we are likely to see a tampering of near-term demand among commercial customers, the emergence nontraditional trade flows, both within regions and globally, as well as a massive planting by farmers in the Southern Hemisphere. Large crops next spring from farmers in South America will help provide relief to a stressed market.We expect Bunge will have a strong second half of the year, not only because we are confident in our business and our approach, our global presence in agribusiness, our investment in sugar and our downstream and fertilizer businesses, but also because we are confident that the role we play as a company is both meaningful and valued. In times of tight commodity stocks and price volatility, farmers depend on a trusted outlet for their crops. Commercial customers rely on a responsive supplier, and the world requires flexible trade that can move products smoothly and safely from where they are to where they need to be. Bunge's strong balance sheet, efficient operations, diverse product portfolio and global asset network enable us to provide these services in the most challenging of times. Of course, record commodity prices spark concern for the food security of vulnerable communities. However, while corn and soybean stocks are low, global stocks of other key staples, including wheat and rice, are at more comfortable levels. The availability of these crops, combined with rational approaches by governments to domestic food, agriculture and trade policies, fast response from aid agencies and cooperation from industry, should help the world respond quickly and effectively to potential issues.
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