Cargill Inc. announced late on Friday that it plans a reduction in its workforce of 2,000 people, approximately 1.5% of its total worldwide workforce of 138,000 employees.
The majority of the reduction will occur over the next six months, and affected employees will be provided outplacement and severance support, according to the announcement.
The action responds to continued weakness in the global economy and a need "to reduce expenses and simplify work processes," the announcement said. "As economic conditions change, so must we," said Cargill corporate vice president Mike Fernandez.
The company explained that the reduction is based on recommendations from the managers of the company's 70 businesses around the world, who had been told to scrutinize costs and resource allocations, including layoffs, to ensure that the company is focused on the activities and resources that will best serve customers.
The reduction is not the consequence of "a company-wide mandated percentage or uniform across-the-board cut," the company emphasized, and layoffs will not be concentrated in any business, city, county or region.
Founded as a grain trader in 1865, Cargill has businesses in agricultural, food, industrial and financial products and services in 63 countries, and it reported fiscal 2011 net earnings of $2.68 billion on revenues that totaled $119.5 billion.
However, the company has reported two consecutive declines in earnings in its fiscal 2011 fourth quarter and fiscal 2012 first quarter, with profits in the first quarter shrinking 66%.
In its first-quarter report, Cargill said the decrease was due to "a persistently high degree of uncertainty" in the global economy, which is injecting the commodity markets with "turbulence" and limiting "prudent trading opportunities."