(Adds background on Bunge and ADM sugar operations)
CHICAGO, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Bunge Ltd. said on Wednesday it is exiting the global sugar trading business to concentrate on core grains and agriculture operations, after reporting a fourth-quarter loss.
Bunge has been seeking to get out of the sugar business for over four years, as a supply glut has pushed prices lower and made it tough for sugar industry participants to turn a profit.
Competitor and suitor Archer Daniels Midland Co, wound down its sugar trading activity and sold a Brazilian mill a few years ago.
Chief Executive Soren Schroder said on a conference call Bunge had struggled over the last year to generate enough gross margin to cover costs in sugar.
"We simply decided that it was time to really focus on what's core to us, which is agribusiness, foods, grains and oilseeds and get on with it in a good way," he said.
Schroder said the sugar trading operations were independent from production.
"In other words, what we intend to do with the milling business does not depend on having a global sugar trading set up. We can handle the risk and the merchandising from within the sugar milling business," he said.
Last year was another tough year for sugar traders and producers, with raw sugar prices tumbling more than 20 percent.
In addition to its eight sugarcane mills in top sugar producer Brazil, Bunge is a major player in the global sugar trade, with a strong destination book.
Its Brazilian mills can produce both sugar and ethanol and have a capacity of more than 20 million tones, according to Bunge's website.
Bunge is the target of a takeover offer by larger rival Archer Daniels Midland Co, which wound down its global sugar trading in 2015. (Reporting by P.J. Huffstutter and Chris Prentice in New York; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Alistair Bell)