UPDATE 1-Bunge posts quarterly loss on some soy crushing contracts

(Adds details on earnings, CEO quote, background)

Aug 1 (Reuters) - Global grains merchant Bunge Ltd reported a loss on Wednesday, as its agribusiness unit took a $125 million hit on soy crushing contracts.

Bunge and rival grain merchants such as Archer Daniels Midland Co and Cargill Inc have struggled in recent years as a global oversupply of food commodities has made it tough to turn a profit on their core business: buying, processing, and selling corn, soy and wheat.

The companies have been diversifying into higher-margin sectors, such as food ingredients and aquaculture feed, to compensate for the poor returns.

The loss was partially offset as Bunge's agribusiness segment sold 3.4 percent more grains and other commodities, in the second quarter ended June 30, and gross profit from the unit more than doubled to $354 million.

"While total company performance in the second quarter came in below our estimates, we expect a strong second half driven by another step up in performance in soy crushing," Soren Schroder, chief executive officer of Bunge, said.

Bunge, which was subject of a failed takeover approach by rival ADM, said net loss available to shareholders was $21 million, or 15 cents per share, in the second quarter ended June 30, compared with a profit $72 million, or 51 cents per share, a year earlier.

The White Plains, New York-based company said net sales rose to $12.15 billion from $11.65 billion. (Reporting by Anirban Paul in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Shounak Dasgupta)