Soren Schrode Bunge CEO
Soren W. Schroder, chief executive officer of the White Plains, New York, U.S.-based company, Bunge Ltd.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK, U.S. — Interest in global trade and uncertainty swirling around the tariff situation were on the minds of analysts at the recent Sanford C. Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference held May 31 in New York.

During the question-and-answer portion of his presentation on behalf of Bunge Ltd., Soren W. Schroder, chief executive officer of the White Plains, New York, U.S.-based company, acknowledged participants “could spend the rest of the night” talking about those two issues.

“Well, I start by saying that I really hope that we end up with no major disruption in trade,” Schroder said. “It’s not good. I mean, every time we’ve had it in the past, it’s been a sad outcome, whether it’s for farmers or consumers. So I don’t think any of it is good. I hope calm thinking will prevail.”

In the event that a major tariff is imposed, industry should be prepared for a shift in demand. Using U.S. soybeans as an example, Schroder said a major tariff on that commodity would likely shift demand to South America, which in turn could lead to a major disruption in pricing of South American beans.

“Reality is that it will be difficult to imagine China, for example, supplying itself exclusively from South America,” Schroder said. “There’s not enough to go around probably. … There will be interesting price implications from something like that. The ripple effects throughout the system would be interesting. You would have a very large surplus of soybeans in the U.S. for our crushing plants in Europe, that would mean that we would redirect U.S. soybeans over there.”

So, while tariffs may open opportunities, in general it would not be a good thing, for farmers or for consumers, Schroder said. Regardless, he said he feels like Bunge is well positioned to compete.

“Whatever ends up happening, we have the footprint that allows us to navigate it well,” he said.