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Traders going gluten free for profit

There’s so little money in buying and selling wheat, corn and soybeans these days that some traders are turning to obscure markets in desert-grown tomatoes and chickpeas to turn a profit.

Margins for handling the big grain crops have sunk as farmers grew more than the world needs for four years. That’s led firms like Germany’s BayWa AG to seek out niches such as tomatoes and organic grains where returns are higher. Others turned to costlier processed food ingredients or gluten-free products.

“The general trading environment for agricultural commodities is rather difficult,” said Jean-Francois Lambert, the founder and managing partner of consultant Lambert Commodities. “It has been the case for two years and it looks like this year may be as challenging.”

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